Interview With The 2018 Longleaf Partnership Council Chair
The America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative would like to welcome a new chair for the Longleaf Partnership Council – Andrew Schock of The Conservation Fund! Recently, Mr. Schock was interviewed for his thoughts on a variety of topics regarding longleaf pine. Here is the full interview.
1. How did you come to be involved with the longleaf effort?
While I was an undergrad, I spent time in the Sandhills of North Carolina assisting graduate student, Jay Carter, with his red-cockaded woodpecker studies; that was my first exposure to longleaf. Through my career, I’ve always been involved with land management and land protection and so much of that has involved longleaf pine. So for many years, I have been aware of the decline of the ecosystem. That’s why, when I learned of the Longleaf Partnership Council, I knew I wanted to be a part of the effort to restore the longleaf ecosystem.
2. When you were elected chair of the Longleaf Partnership Council, what did you expect from your new role?
One of the most important aspects of the Longleaf Partnership Council is having so many different groups represented – in particular, the collection of public agencies that are pushing the restoration effort. I expected continued, and hoped for enhanced, collaboration. I’m very excited the Longleaf Partnership Council is being recognized nationally as an example of how public agencies and private organizations can work together on a landscape scale.
3. What do you expect to accomplish?
I hope we step up our game. We are all still committed to the 8 million acre goal by 2025 so we have a lot to do. And here is the plan to make that happen. We are engaging the public agencies like never before. We are asking that they look at what longleaf pine they currently have and where do they have opportunities to add new acres through planting or changing management strategies. We are also increasing our outreach to the large private landowners, those who manage tens and hundreds of thousands of acres, and through that outreach, we are listening better as to what will motivate them to become more engaged with planting longleaf pine and use prescribed burning.
4. How has your work with The Conservation Fund contributed to the advancement of ALRI?
The Conservation Fund is engaged with longleaf restoration at several levels throughout the southeast. Recently, we acquired a large tract along the Altamaha River in Georgia in partnership with the state. During the Fund’s ownership, we entered into a joint management plan; we began planting longleaf pine and reintroduced fire on site. In partnership with the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, we acquired nearly 4,000 acres to become part of the Refuge and converted to longleaf pine as part of the developing fire resilient buffer around the Refuge. We have partnered with Resource Management Services in the Coastal Headwaters Forest project to restore longleaf pine over 170,000 acres through the purchase of conservation easements that require the institutional owner to convert to longleaf pine and reintroduce prescribed burning.
5. Are you working on any new and exciting advancements in longleaf restoration?
Yes! We are partnering with Emory University’s Goizueta Business School on their Impact 360 program. We will have 4-6 MBA students, spending about 40 hours a week for a semester, considering what markets exist for longleaf pine, what markets can be developed, and how they can be developed. If we can increase the market demand, that will be a clear enticement for private timberland owners to plant longleaf pine. This is a very exciting and innovative opportunity.
6. Past the “8 million acres by 2025” goal, what do you see as ALRI’s long term vision?
Clearly the momentum has swung in favor of longleaf pine (we have moved from 3 million acres to 4.7 million acres) so I hope the motion keeps going in that direction - more acres devoted to longleaf and very importantly, the use of prescribed fire continuing.