This region has been a priority for conservation since the 1980s because it serves as a critical source of water for North Florida communities and supports one of the largest conservation and wildlife corridors east of the Mississippi River.

Proceeds from The Conservation Fund’s first-ever green bonds will enable us to protect thousands of acres within the headwaters of the Suwannee River and Osceola National Forest and to ultimately restore priority lands to longleaf pine. 

 

our role

In August 2020, the Fund acquired nearly 7,000 acres of the Suwannee River Woodlands. Located within one of the last remaining strongholds for longleaf pine in the Southeast, the woodlands will be sustainably managed over the next several years as a working forest, with the goal of adding all or a portion to Osceola National Forest and restoring it to longleaf pine. We are working to protect additional acreage in the region to expand this forest conservation effort.

This project is part of our Working Forest Fund®—an innovative program dedicated to mitigating climate change, strengthening rural economies and protecting natural ecosystems through the permanent conservation of at-risk working forests across America.

To fund this land’s permanent protection, we are seeking support from several public programs including the Land and Water Conservation Fund and potentially other sources, including the USDA Forest Legacy Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Florida Forever—the state’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. We are also working with our partners to raise private support to complete this significant conservation effort.

 

Why It Matters

The Suwannee River Woodlands are located within the headwaters of the Suwannee River—the second largest river in Florida and one of the largest remaining free-flowing rivers in the Southeast. The Fund has worked over the last 20 years to protect the watershed of the Suwannee, from its headwaters to its estuary on the Gulf of Mexico. The protection and restoration of the Suwannee River Woodlands will expand these efforts, helping to filter the waters in which tens of thousands of people fish and recreate, and supporting climate resiliency.

In addition, the Suwannee River Woodlands provides habitat for numerous species, including Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, wood stork and many more. Once restored to longleaf pine—one of the most ecologically diverse ecosystems in the world—other species associated with this ecosystem will begin to return. Longleaf pine ecosystems provide habitat for 29 threatened and endangered species and more than 900 plants found nowhere else in the world. Longleaf pine forests also provide clean air and water and can act as an economic driver for local communities. This project will advance regional efforts to protect and restore 8 million acres of significant longleaf pine ecosystems across the Southeast.

 

we need your help

The Conservation Fund is actively raising funds for a permanent conservation solution for these lands. For more information about how you can support the conservation of Suwannee River Woodlands please contact Callie Hastings Easterly.