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Florida launches Longleaf Pine Ecosystem geodatabase

March 8, 2015 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is launching a statewide Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Geodatabase to help track and conserve this once bountiful resource.

The map shows 2.2 million acres of longleaf pine ecosystems across the state. Half of all known longleaf pine ecosystems in the country are in Florida.

Forest officials will use the data to help pinpoint the ecosystems so they can improve conservation efforts, including soil and water conversation, habitat enhancement and timber product supply.

The original longleaf pine ecosystem once covered more than 90 million acres across the southeastern United States. It was depleted to less than 4 percent of its original area by the mid-1900s.

The longleaf pine ecosystem is home to many rare or protected plants and animals. It also provides resources for many wood-fiber, lumber and other forest products.