A Conservation Success Story - Gulf Coast Ecosystem Partnership

A Conservation Success Story – Gulf Coast Ecosystem Partnership

In Florida’s Western Panhandle, a partnership formed among land managers and landowners surrounding military lands provides one great conservation success story for conserving Longleaf Pine ecosystems.

This area includes the largest remaining stands of natural longleaf pine and some of the last undeveloped coastline on the Gulf Coast. It is also home to Eglin Air Force Base, Pensacola Naval Air Station, and Whiting Field. Conservation organizations and the public have interests in sustainable forestry, outdoor recreation, biodiversity conservation, wildlife management, and the protection of water resources.

The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership (GCPEP) was formed in 1996 to identify common conservation goals and actions on public and private land, and to enhance protection and management on properties that adjoin military lands. Now it has expanded into a multi-party conservation effort with Eglin AFB, Blackwater River State Forest, and the Conecuh National Forest (Alabama) at its core. These three large entities manage over 730,000 acres. Recent divestment sales by International Paper Company, whose ownership is in transition, will add over 22,000 acres to the conservation land base.

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