This Tree LOVES FIRE (Longleaf Pine) – #TeamTrees Behind the Scenes

This Tree LOVES FIRE (Longleaf Pine) – #TeamTrees Behind the Scenes

– Hey, it’s me, Destin. Welcome to the behind-the-scenes video here on the second channel. I want to share with you
one of my favorite walks near where I live. This is a really cool place,
this is a wildlife refuge. These are all bald cypress trees. Now bald cypress trees are interesting because they usually grow with
the root system underwater. You can see the waterline
up there on that cypress, but right now we’re in
the middle of a drought. And there’s a lot of attention these days going to drought-resistant crops, drought resistance, blah
blah blah, but trees, we don’t really think about trees. There’s a really cool
tree here in the South called the longleaf pine,
that used to be everywhere, but now it’s not. It does really interesting
things to survive during a drought, and today
we’re gonna learn about that by going to Auburn University
and the E.O. Wilson Center for Biophilia, which is something
I didn’t even know existed until I drove up on it on the road. It was fantastic, I just
found it out of nowhere. Anyway, today, the whole
point of this video is to tell you about the silvics of trees, which is what I just learned,
but more importantly, to get you excited about
donating at There’s internet content creators from all over the internet,
we’re working together and we’re trying to
plant 20 million trees. And the way we’re doing
that is raising $20 million for the Arbor Day Foundation, who’s agreed to plant one tree for
every $1 that’s raised. That is a tremendous opportunity for us to plant trees together. You can also click the
button down below here, on the YouTube watch page,
there’s a donate button that goes straight to
the Arbor Day Foundation. So please consider doing that, and without further ado, we
will go learn about trees. Okay, to learn more about
why certain species of trees grow in certain areas, we’re
here at Auburn University and we’re gonna go visit
the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. We’re gonna learn exactly why trees grow in certain locations. Dr. Barlow, that’s who we’re here to see. Hello, Dr. Barlow? – Yes.
– Hey, I’m Destin Sandlin. – Hi, Destin.
– How’s it goin’? – Good.
– Doin’ all right? – Yep.
– Good to see you. So you’re a professor of what, here? – [Becky] Forestry. – Forestry?
– Mm-hmm. – [Destin] How long have
you been doing this? – Since 2007, and we
also write publications, for landowners. – [Destin] About trees? – Yeah, about wildlife, trees. – [Destin] You have a cool job. – Yeah, it is, it’s nice. – [Destin] Oh, look at that. Longleaf pine stand dynamics. This is really cool. Nice to meet you.
– Nice to meet you. – [Destin] Dr. Kush,
Forest and Fire Ecology. – [John] Yeah. – [Destin] What a great title,
I guess it is, it’s amazing. Wildland Fire Club. Dr. Barlow.
– Hi. – And Dr. Kush.
– Hello. – [Destin] And you guys
are the tree experts in the Southeast, right? – No.
– No. – No, (laughs) what do you mean, no? (Becky laughs) – No such thing as a tree expert. We have a lot of knowledge,
but I don’t think anybody can really, truly call
themselves an expert. – [Destin] But what do you do here? This is the school of– – Forestry and wildlife sciences. – [Destin] Okay, well, I mean,
if you’re not a tree expert– – All we do is study trees. – Okay.
– We can, for the layperson, we
might be the experts, but I hate to view myself
as an expert of everything, ’cause there’s always something you can be learning every day. – [Destin] Got it, yeah,
you get smarter every day. I see what he did there.
(Becky laughs) – And I didn’t even get paid to say that.
– You didn’t get paid to say that? (laughs)
– That’s good. – [Destin] It’s good, so
I’m noticing right here on your desk, I’m seeing
things like Redstone Arsenal. I’m seeing a lot of files
from different places? – Right. – [Destin] Are you doing tree studies all over the country? – All over the Southeast, more so. – Really.
– Not the country, it’s expensive to travel
countrywide, still. – [Destin] Really, so– – My focus has been longleaf pine, so that has limited me to the Southeast. Keep my love, and fire. – [Destin] What is a longleaf pine? – It’s the state tree of Alabama, you should have learned
that in your education as a child growing up,
I assume, in Alabama. – [Destin] That’s true, that’s true. – Ah.
(Destin and Becky laughing) So it is the tree that built the South and probably built this country. But we give it no credit. – [Destin] What do you mean? – It occupied 90 million acres plus, from Virginia to Texas, it
was really one of the first exports from this country
to go across the seas, and today we just ignore it. – [Destin] Your jam is the longleaf pine. – It is. – That’s your thing.
– That’s my thing. – [Destin] There’s a glimmer
in your eye when you’re– – Oh yeah.
(Destin laughs) That’s what it’s all about in
the Southeast, longleaf pine. – [Destin] Really, okay,
so why is that your thing? – Because it’s just so uniquely adapted to what conditions were in the Southeast, it’s telling you what nature had here. I believe that nature is our best manager, and so we need to have more longleaf pine because it will ultimately provide us with the greatest resources. – I see, so this is about
using the environmental factors that you have at your disposal
in your specific location to have a symbiotic
relationship with trees, so that we, as humans, get
the most out of the trees and they get the most
– Yes. – out of us?
– Exactly. – [Destin] Okay, got it, so longleaf pine. – Longleaf pine.
– What do I need to know? – Burn it. – (laughing) What? – Burn it.
– What do you mean? – Plant it, burn it. – [Destin] What do you mean? – Use prescribed fire, get
your little area cleaned out and get your trees planted,
wait a year, burn it. – [Destin] So you’re talking
about the undergrowth. – The undergrowth. – [Destin] Okay, okay, so
you’re not saying, like, cut the tree down and burn it. – No, don’t cut the tree down. – Okay.
– Please don’t cut the tree, we’re doing too much of that already. – [Destin] Okay, so
fires can be a good thing if they’re done correctly,
is what you’re saying. – Fires are excellent
thing if done correctly, but we have to do it correctly. – [Destin] What do you mean? – We have to prescribe,
get your conditions right, prescribe the fire, get a burn permit from the Forestry Commission, and do what’s right for nature. You’re just mimicking what nature did. If we weren’t here, it would be happening. – [Destin] So this the fire torch? – So this is a drip torch,
so what we do in this is put in a mixture of
gasoline and diesel fuel. The diesel fuel helps to carry the gas, and so you drop it over,
put a little bit of fuel on the ground, light
that fuel on the ground, put our wick on our torch,
in it, it will catch fire, and then as you walk, it’s dropping out little balls of fire that we’ll be putting inside the prescribed
area that we wanna burn. – [Destin] That’s awesome,
and so you have a permit, and you have people monitoring the fire and all that good stuff,
when it’s going on? – We watch intensity and see what happens, we might have to add in
a little bit more fire, or maybe slow up on how much fire we’re putting on the ground,
depending on how it’s burning. So you always need to be aware
of how your fire is burning. – [Destin] So lemme ask what
might be a controversial question, for a man who
has a picture of (laughs). – [John] Fire. – [Destin] Fire, in his office. So at what point have we humans
jacked with the environment so much that longleaf pine is too hard to sustainably grow, at what point do you, I’m gonna say this, and this might hurt, at what point do you give
up on the longleaf pine and say we’re moving on to other species? – I don’t, we can’t give up. – [Destin] Why? – We can’t lose a species. – Okay, obviously.
It’s just unique, yeah. So you can never give up,
you’ve gotta keep trying. – [Destin] But this particular species has traits that we need,
it’s drought-resistant. – Yes, it is. – [Destin] And it’s able
to grow in environments that others aren’t. – And it provides a good
product for landowners. – [Destin] So are you
trying to bridge the gap? Are you getting longleaf
pine to a potential time when droughts might be an issue, or? – It could be, and that’s
what I think, you know, to me, we can never
afford to lose a species, ’cause you don’t know, down the road, where that could come into play. – [Destin] Got it, have
you noticed the area of the longleaf pine, inside
this, have you noticed that it’s retracting
or growing, or moving? – Now, well, most of what’s
happening is we cut the forest, and so people are cutting
it for economic reasons, so now they’re starting to plant it back because they realize what it
once meant to the Southeast, and then also from an economics as well as ecological perspectives, so until people start
planting it outside its range, we won’t know what it’s going to do, yeah.
– What happens, got it. – You get above this line,
there’s a tendency of, historically, more ice
storms, and so what happens with longleaf, because
of their heavy needles and the bigger branches,
ice accumulates on them in an event, and then they break off. And so that would limit its range, whereas loblolly and shortleaf pine that would have been up there, they have much smaller needles,
they’re able to sort of shed the ice a little bit
better than longleaf did, and so speculation is that that line sort of represents the northern
extreme for ice storms. – [Destin] So it’s a
balance between heat, cold, the acidity, or the– – Yeah, the pH or the soil.
– pH of the soil, the aeration of the soil. – [Destin] The what of the soil? – Aeration. – Aeration of the soil?
– Yeah. – [Destin] So each tree
species has its own little thing that it likes. – It’s the silvics of the species, or the ecology of the species, that’s it. – [Destin] Silvics, that’s
the word you taught me. – Silvics, yeah.
– The silvics. So the silvics of a tree species determine exactly why one species of tree likes to live in a certain area, and that’s a function of all these things we’re talking about.
– And whatever else nature throws at it. – [Destin] Really, thank you,
this is helpful. (laughs) I appreciate that. – I work for the Alabama
Cooperative of Extensions, so yes, most of my job
is helping landowners decide what trees are best for them to plant.
(window rattling) – [Destin] Just one second.
– Oh no! – They’re washing (laughs).
– Yeah, they’re washing the windows (laughs). Somebody literally is spraying,
how often does that happen? – This is the first time. (Destin laughs) Since this building was built. – [Destin] Somebody’s
spraying your window. – I was told I have within
the top five dirtiest windows in the building, and so somebody’s
trying to get a contract with the university, and so they figured they’ll go to the five dirtiest– – [Destin] They’re, what– – [John] Like give it
their best shot at it. – [Destin] Look at that! Literally… – [John] And you are three floors up, and floors are what, 12 foot? – [Destin] The first time your
window has ever been washed is when I turned this camera on in your–
– You should have come a long time ago. (laughs) – [Destin] Should have come (laughs). – I been wanting my window
cleaned, and here it is. That’s incredible. (Destin laughs) I like it! – [Destin] This is real,
you can’t fake this. – No.
– No. – [Destin] I have never seen
a brush like that in my life. – [Becky] Now you know
how windows are washed. – [Destin] Now I know,
yeah, I should do a whole– – This is the bonus.
– This is– – [John] This guy is
standing, he’s on the ground doing this, he’s not on a ladder. – [Destin] He’s a good, look at that, look how far away he is. – [John] Oh yeah, he’s gotta
be a good, almost 40 feet. – [Destin] That’s amazing. – This is actually something
I got from somebody about 10 minutes ago, as a gift. It is to be used for creating fire lines, as well as chopping
vegetation to knock it down to help spread fire a little bit better. – [Destin] Really. – Lot of times it’s great
for getting rid of water oak and sweetgum, you just wanna
beat those suckers to death. (Destin laughs) – [Destin] So are you an
advocate for cutting down trees? – Oh, hell yes. (Destin laughs) So I guess now’s the
time I should tell you that I’m trying to make a thing about helping people plant more trees. – Well, I’m all for planting trees, but I’m for planting trees, the right tree in the right location. – [Destin] What’s the
best way to plant trees? Let’s say, oh, I don’t know,
you and some of your friends are gonna get together and
try to plant 20 million trees in the world, let’s say
you were gonna do that. – Oof.
– How would you do that? – You have to come up
with the sorts of trees and then find a cool,
wet time of the year, and just start going at it. – Really?
– Yep. – [Destin] Okay, so the
sorts of trees are important. – Yes, and it really depends
on planting the right tree on the right site, which Dr.
Kush has been talking about. You know, that’s the big thing,
and that’s one of the things I try to tell landowners
when I work with them and talk with them, is that
you need to pick the right tree to go on your piece of property. You might love longleaf pine,
Dr. Kush loves longleaf pine, and I do, too, but I tell
people it’s not the right tree for everybody, it’s not the
right tree for every site. If you’re not going to
be able to use fire, then you don’t need to
be planting longleaf. It’s as simple as that. So that’s one of the things
we really talk about, is picking the right tree
for the right location. – [Destin] Okay, so how does
a person find the right tree for the right location,
let’s say someone lives in Ohio, for example, or
they live in, I don’t know, Wyoming, and they need to
figure out the exact tree they need to plant on their property. – So the first thing they
need to do is, like Dr. Kush was saying, you did think about the soils, you need to think about
what soils you have, you need to think about
what you are willing to do from a management standpoint. How active are you willing to be in the management of your property? Some people are just like,
wanna plant it and walk away, and not have to do anything
to it, and that’s okay, too, and there’s certain things you
can do from that standpoint. But most of the time, you’re
gonna have to plant it, then you’re gonna have to monitor it, and you’re gonna have to
maybe do some thinnings in there to make sure that the trees have enough water,
light, nutrients to grow, because they start to get too crowded and then they’re gonna
start to die naturally, and so you wanna thin it
so you don’t have that natural mortality, you can
actually capture that mortality. – [Destin] So there’s science to it. – Yeah, a lot, and you also
need to know about the trees. So you need to think about the
tree that you want to plant, and think about its life history. So where does it normally occur? Where does it naturally occur? How does it grow, how tall does it get, does it need a lot of sunlight,
or can it tolerate shade? You need to think about
all of those things. What other species does
it normally grow with? Is it a bottomland species,
is it an upland species? Does it need water, does
it not need a lot of water? So it’s those things like that,
that you need to understand about the trees that
you’re wanting to plant, and then making sure you,
again, that’s how you match the tree to your site. – [Destin] What makes
planting a tree difficult? – Well, for longleaf,
it’s its root system, ’cause it has this grass
stage where it spends anywhere from two to six or seven years just looking like a tuft of grass before it puts on a woody stem, where it comes out of that grass stage, whereas all your other
trees, when they germinate, they’re immediately
putting up a woody stem. So it has that grass stage
because it was seeing fire so frequently, so it needed
to keep itself protected. – [Destin] Insulated. – Insulated, yep. – [Destin] Like thermally insulated. – (clicks tongue) Yep. – [Destin] Really, okay. – So it has all these
adaptations that’s saying fire was frequent, so
in the case up there, if they planted it
right, if it was planted to an old field, the
competition may have overrun it, or they didn’t use fire and
the competition just did it in. But if you were to prepare
a site up there properly, plant it and burn it, you
would get longleaf pine to survive there. – Really.
– No trouble. – [Destin] So when you say competition, are we talking like privet
hedge, like little bitty– – It could be grasses,
a lot of woody stems, fire’s not there, it’s going
to fill up with vegetation. We can grow a lot of vegetation
in the South very quickly. – [Destin] So you work for extension? – Yes. – And where do you work?
– In Auburn, so– – [Destin] At Auburn, okay. – So extension actually is
across the entire United States, every state pretty much
has an extension arm, and it’s actually one
of the three missions of most of the land-grant universities. So you think about, you have research, you have teaching, and you
have outreach or extension. And so that is cooperative extension. So our job is to help the general public understand about things,
whether it be personal finance, or you think about forestry
and wildlife, or ag. Any of those types of
things have an extension arm associated with it.
– So extension is like the connective
tissue between universities and the public. – We take the science that
comes out of the universities and we extend it in layman’s
terms, more or less, to the general public. – [Destin] So let’s say a person has land, and they go to to the local extension officer, I guess?
– Right, yeah. – [Destin] What do you want
them to know about their land? – So if somebody comes in
and they ask me what to do with their property, they need
to know what their property is capable of, so they
need to do their research on what are the soils, where
are their boundary lines, and then they also need
to have good conversations with their family members, or other people interested
in that property, as far as what their
goals and objectives are. So that then they can
make a really good plan. And that plan can change, it
doesn’t have to be static. But they have a plan so
that they can move forward with planting, or managing for wildlife, or pine straw, or whatever
it is they wanna do. – Okay, something just snapped into focus. So my grandfather, back in the day, I’ve heard of people, and he
did this, he put soil in a bag, and he sent it to Auburn University. – Yes.
– What’s that all about? – So we have a soil lab,
and most of the ag colleges have some sort of soil-testing facility. So yes, you can go out there and, we actually have boxes
now, rather than bags, where you can actually take
the little soil test kit, you go across your property, collect some soil samples,
put it in a bucket, mix it up, put it in a
box, send it in to Auburn, and they’ll test it to see
what would grow best there, and look at the nutrient levels. – [Destin] So I can literally get a box, put dirt in the box, mail it to you guys– – Mail it to us.
– And you’ll give me a list of what trees will grow? – Mail it to the soils lab, yes. – Really.
– Yep. – [Destin] Okay, do most
universities do this? – Yes.
– Okay. – Not all of ’em, but most of them do. – [Destin] Is that a
function of the extension? – Yes, it’s usually the
agricultural side of it, yes. – Okay, I recently bought
a small piece of land that was cut recently, and so
it’s called slash right now? – Right. – [Destin] It’s been just destroyed, it looks awful.
– Right, just a cutover, yep. – [Destin] And I haven’t
done anything with it, and I know that I’m
supposed to do something, but I don’t know what I need to do, so tell me, what do I need to do? – So you need to figure
out what your soils are, you need to get that box and figure out what your soil types are,
or look at a soil survey, and then you need to think
about where it is located in the state, what its
physiographic region is, and then you need to think
about what are your objectives. Are you really–
– I wanna grow trees, that’s my objective. – You wanna grow trees,
do you have a lot of time to deal with those trees? – [Destin] I do not. – Right, so then you need
to think about growing a species that’s gonna not
take a lot of your time and management, you want
something that you can plant in the ground, that’s
well suited to the site, that’s gonna grow really well on its own with you just goin’ out
there and checkin’ on it from time to time. But sometimes you can plant things that make for, they’re more work. – [Destin] So how do I figure this out? So I get soil, I send it
to Auburn, I get it tested, and then you send me a report back and tells me what I need to do. – Right, and what the soil types are, then you go back to the
silvics of the trees, you look at different tree species, you look at what might
grow well out there, and look at what might be something that’s gonna go to your objectives. So sometimes people
just want to grow trees for a short rotation, for
pulpwood, for 15 years, cut ’em, plant ’em, start over,
that’s what they wanna do. So then loblolly pine
would be a good answer. Or if they wanna plant
something that they’re not gonna have to do a lot of work with, they’re not gonna have to burn it, they’re not gonna wanna
have to do things like that, then longleaf pine would not
be a species for somebody who doesn’t wanna be able
to use, or can’t use, prescribed fire. – So you’ve taught me the worst
thing I can do is nothing. – [Becky] Worst thing you do is nothing. – And I have to do the right thing. And the way I do the right
thing is I research my soil and then I make decisions
about what I wanna do with my land, and then I
figure out the native species based on the silvics– – Of the trees. – [Destin] Of the trees,
and once I get the silvics for my soil, and my climate, and what type of topography I have– – Your objectives for your family. – [Destin] And my
objectives for my family, then I can plant sustainable trees. – Yes, and you will have something
that is very sustainable. And also, you can get
help, you’re not out there on your own with this. And that’s another thing, a lot of times people don’t realize
that they can get help. So you can get help with
Alabama Cooperative Extension or other extension offices. Most states have county extension offices where you can go and
you can talk to people who have expertise in land management. You can also talk to
state forestry commissions or state forestry services. They have professionals that can help you. And then there’s also something called a consulting forester. So these are people
who have been to school to learn how to manage forests, and they are there to
represent you, the landowner. That’s the biggest thing,
is a registered forester, or somebody with the extension, or somebody with the forestry service, they represent you, the landowner. And they’re representing your interests, and there to help you make good decisions. – [Destin] Smart, so I
need to find a forester. – You do. – [Destin] Okay, that’s awesome. Do you see, oftentimes, people
just want to plant trees? Just to do good?
– Yes. – Yeah.
– Yes, for sure. And so that’s what they
just wanna plant trees, and they’re like, “Oh, I wanna
have these trees out here.” And I’ve actually had a
landowner I talked to, they had somebody recommend
to plant longleaf. Because they just wanted
to have trees out there. But unfortunately, the
landowner didn’t understand about the silvics of longleaf,
and so they didn’t understand that they needed to be
burned, they didn’t understand how they needed to be managed, and so then they were kind of surprised by the fact that they needed to burn them, or how they were growing very slowly, because they keep, say, in
that grass stage very long. – [Destin] So it’s not
enough to say this tree does good in this environment,
you have to also understand what upkeep is required for that type of tree.
– Yes, very much so. – [Destin] Or, in the event
that you don’t wannna spend the time to do the upkeep, just get– – Pick one, yes.
– Nail the silvics. – Yes, pick one that’s gonna work for you. – Awesome.
– That’s the key. – [Destin] This is huge. You get me a box? – Mm-hmm.
– I’m gonna get a soil box. – Yes.
– Soil box. I can’t say the word soil. (laughs) Okay, so is this my soil box? – This is your soil box. – [Destin] Okay. – So what you’ll do is you
can just take a shovel, and just go around different
spots on your property, and put ’em in a big bucket,
and dump it in there, mix it up, and then take some of it and put it in this box, and
you’ll send it to Auburn, which you can send it to me, and we’ll turn it in.
– Get it done? That’s awesome, thank you very much. – Yeah. – [Destin] Thank you. – All right, so you’ve
got longleaf pine here that’s in the grass stage. So I planted this four years ago, the idea of trying to bring
longleaf pine back to this site. And so it has this stage
where it doesn’t really put on any woody extension
growth like all trees do. And so it waits for its
chance to take fires for a couple years and then,
out of that central bud, it will one day decide that it’s time to come out of the grass
stage, and off it will go. – [Destin] Really? That is not–
– What that– – [Destin] That is not what I think of when I think of a small tree. – It is not, and see, so any tree, any longleaf pine this
size, can take fire. Any other tree will die. – [Destin] So that’s
why it exists like this. – That’s why it gets like this. It has that grass stage to keep it there, so it can take fire,
every couple of years, and then when it comes
out of that grass stage, it’ll put on four or five
feet of growth in that year, get its quote unquote head above the fire, and it just hangs out for
the next three, 400 years. – [Destin] So this is just
a completely different strategy for survival. – Absolutely, unique in the world. – [Destin] There’s not
another tree that does this? – That has this kind of a stage. There’s something, maybe, in Mexico, something in Australia,
it’s sort of pseudo-like it, but nothing that has this
grass stage where it needs fire in order to keep itself there. – [Destin] So why do you,
forgive this question, please, but why do you like it so much? Like, it’s clearly difficult
to grow, in terms of the economics of growing
sustainable resources and wood, so why should we pay attention to this? – ‘Cause it’s the only
tree that can take fire on a pretty much yearly basis, be there, which then supported
all the wildlife species that we had, and the plant
species, so it becomes one of, it’s the whole big
picture for the ecosystem. This is such a unique species. Whatever the climate does, the key is fire for longleaf pine. – Got it.
– If it doesn’t have fire, doesn’t matter where
it’s at, as an ecosystem, it won’t make it. – [Destin] Got it, so– – Right now is a good example, yep, it hasn’t rained in Auburn for 35 days. You’ve got that seedling that’s alive. That loblolly pine seedling is dead. – [Destin] That one right there? – That is not coming back. – [Destin] Can you go show me why? Oh, this is a loblolly pine. – This is a loblolly pine, so this is– – [Destin] So this is a loblolly pine– – And that’s longleaf. – [Destin] So– – Because this is only two years old, and that’s four years old, so it’s staying in that grass stage because it says, “I’m not ready to come out yet, “things are not in shape.” This tree’s, it germinates and said, “wanna, I’m off to the races, let’s go.” – [Destin] Because we’re
in 35 days of drought, did this die recently? – Yeah, this probably just died within the last three or four days. – Oh, really?
– Yeah. – [Destin] So we’ve got
some real data here. – This is real data. This is actual.
– So loblolly pine died, because of the drought. – [John] Loblolly pine died over there because of the drought,
but the longleaf pine– – [Destin] The longleaf
pine is just kickin’ it. – It’s just kickin’ it, it’s
just hangin’ out, saying, “I’m not quite ready to come
out of the grass stage.” What that trigger’s gonna
be, nobody knows, but… – [Destin] At some point, it’s gonna figure it out.
– At some point. My guess is, based on the size now, it’s gonna come out next year. – Really.
– We were to come back next year at this time,
I’m guessing it’ll be about this tall. – [Destin] How tall? It’ll grow, it’ll just– – [John] It’ll put out four or five feet once it decides to come
out of the grass stage. – [Destin] So the loblolly pine is not drought-resistant. – [John] Nope. – [Destin] The longleaf pine
here chills out like that, that’s four years old,
and then just massively, it’ll sprout up. – Yep. – [Destin] That’s a really
interesting strategy. – It’s so cool. – [Destin] So does it
take a tremendous amount of energy to do that? – That’s why it has an
extensive root system. – [Destin] Oh. – So. – [Destin] At some point, it just captures all those nutrients–
– Whatever it, yeah, what that triggers, nobody knows. You know, trees above ground will put on an annual growth ring, and
so you know how old it is, but longleaf pine, the roots
seem to be growing year-round. It does not put on an
annual ring of growth, so… – [Destin] On the tree, it doesn’t? – Not when it’s in the grass stage. – [Destin] Got it. – So it’s different when that
wood gets above the ground, then it’ll have a growth ring,
where you can then age it, but in the grass stage– – [Destin] That’s awesome. – All bets are off. – [Destin] That’s awesome. So are you studying the longleaf pine for drought resistance? – I don’t think you really need to, I mean, ’cause it’s just
naturally adapted to drought. – [Destin] Is that why
you care about it so much? – No, but I care about it because of the ecosystem perspective. It was the native species
for most of the Southeast, and because of fire. 75% of our threatened endangered species are associated with the
longleaf pine ecosystem. – [Destin] What do you mean? – That’s where you found them, and that’s where they’re suffering, because we’re losing that ecosystem. Much of it’s getting filled
in with other hardwoods, because of the lack of fire. – [Destin] So it’s not
about just saving a tree. – It’s not about saving a tree. – [Destin] It’s about– – All the big picture,
yep, saving the plants and the animals, and the
insects, and the reptiles and amphibians, and… – [Destin] Really. – That’s what nature put there, so I’m a firm believer that nature knows how to manage nature best. – [Destin] So you’re trying
to get out of the way. – Yeah. – Got it.
– Yeah. So these are longleaf pine plugs. So they were grown in a
nursery in little tubes, they grow ’em for usually about a year. They get pulled, and then
when it’s planting season, which usually goes somewhere
from beginning of December until March, done at the
cooler time of the year when the ground moisture
should be a little bit higher, these are what get planted today, for the most part, for longleaf pine. For most other species a lot of times they’re just bare roots,
where they were just growing out in a field, and they cut the roots, and then just pull ’em out,
and so you’ve got roots all over the place, but for longleaf, because it’s been difficult
getting bare-root seedlings to survive with planting,
probably because it has to happen so quickly, they came up
with a way to increase its chances of survival. So how it should work is you step down, it pulls out a plug. – [Destin] And then you put it in. – Put in there, tap it in with your shoe, on to the next tree. – [Destin] But we’re not
gonna do this today, right? – We can’t do this today,
at least right here, because the ground is so
dry, and therefore so hard that our planting tool
will not get into the soil. – [Destin] Got it, so in
general, a lot of people want to plant trees, like
everybody wants to plant trees. But you can do it wrong, right? – Oh, yeah. – Okay, so just going–
– Very much so. – [Destin] And planting a thousand trees, if you screw it up, you’re just gonna waste a thousand trees. – Yes. – So the key is not just to plant trees to make yourself feel
good, the key is to do it in a smart, intelligent, respectful way for the environment, right? – Absolutely. – [Destin] Okay, and what is that way? You’re saying, today you
showed me with the plug, doesn’t make sense today
because of how dry it is, so where do you go find that information, and then how do you make decisions
about how to plant trees? – The biggest thing is keeping
information for yourself, is knowing what the weather has been. So I think the smartest person is you, who are out there figuring
out what your land is and where you wanna do something. – [Destin] Once you know
the silvics of the tree, and you know your local environment, you make the decision about
when to plant the trees. – Yep. – [Destin] Smart, that’s awesome. Thanks for teaching me all
this, I really appreciate it. – Enjoy it. – [Destin] Yeah, thank you so much. You guys are great, and thanks
for holding the microphone. – Of course, anytime.
(Destin laughs) – So I’m driving down this
highway in north Florida, right? It’s totally gonna look like
I planned this, but I did not. I see, on my left, these tall pine trees that are scorched on the bottom. I’m like, “Oh, that’s fire, like they were “telling me at Auburn, it
looks very clean over here.” I look at the other side of the road, the bottom of the forest floor
is just matted and mangled, and then I see a sign that says longleaf. I’m like, “Somebody here
knows about the longleaf pine, “and knows that it’s important to burn,” and so I got out of my truck. Look at this, I could
not have planned this. The E.O Wilson Biophilia Center. These people are all
about the entire ecosystem created when the longleaf pine does what the longleaf pine is supposed to do. This is amazing, they were fantastic. I wanna show you what I learned. Let’s go check this out. – [Ashlyn] Hello. – [Destin] Hey, how’s it goin’? – [Ashlyn] Good. – Okay, so I just walked
into the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, right? – Yes. – This is Ashlyn, I just found this place, and I’m seeing that right
there, which leads me to believe that you guys believe in burning– – Oh, yes.
– To promote longleaf pine health, is that right?
– Yes, yes. Very controlled burning. – [Destin] Controlled
burning, but the whole idea is to get the fuel at the
bottom of the ecosystem to just take out all
the scrub brush, right? – Exactly, yes.
– Cool. And you said there’s
somebody I could talk to? – Yeah, definitely, we’ll find Bob. All right, so this is
our burn master, here. – [Destin] Are you the burn master? – He is, we sometimes
call him Burnin’ Bob. – [Destin] Hey, I’m Destin. – Hi, nice– – [Destin] Nice to meet you. So you know about burning longleaf pines? – Well, we’ve burned a few. (laughs) – [Ashlyn] (laughs)
Planted a few, as well. – [Destin] So you bring kids
in and you educate them on– – All fourth and seventh graders from the local five counties. – Really.
– So yes, for either two or four days we teach ’em all about longleaf, all about
the animals that live here, and why it’s important,
all that good stuff. – [Destin] That’s
awesome, so you teach ’em about the longleaf pine ecosystem. – Yeah.
– Oh, yeah, yeah. We go through it pretty closely. – [Destin] Oh, that’s awesome. – In fact, tomorrow we’re
having a fire presentation. – [Destin] Really. – And we talk to ’em about
how important fire is. – [Destin] Oh, that’s
amazing, that’s awesome. – (laughs) You found the right place. – I did find the right place. That’s cool, this is serendipity, I had no idea you existed,
and now I just drove by. You’re Fire Bob, right? Burnin’ Bob?
– Burnin’ Bob, Turtle Bob, whatever we need him to be for the kids that day.
(Destin laughs) – [Destin] So, Burnin’
Bob, what is the importance of the longleaf pine for
the ecosystem overall? Like why is fire important
to keep it alive, and then what does the longleaf pine do to the ecosystem as a whole? – Fire is important to keep
the longleaf pine ecosystem alive because, to start with, it requires bare, mineral soil to start germinating. And that gets the longleaf pine to get started, and then it slowly grows and puts a heavy-duty
taproot into the ground, and it’s really important
because when we have fire, the other trees will be killed. But the longleaf pine survives. – [Destin] But why is that a good thing? Why is the longleaf pine more
important than other trees? – The longleaf pine’s
the longest-living tree that lives in this area,
they could live up to four to 500 years. Most all the other pine
trees up to a hundred years, and that is about it. – [Destin] Oh, okay,
so if you can establish a longleaf pine, then you’re gonna have an old-growth forest. – Eventually.
– Exactly. – Eventually, yes, yes. And this area, they have adapted to fire. We are in a fire forest,
the longleaf pine ecosystem is also called the fire forest. We have to have that fire,
not just for that little pine to pop up, but also because
it creates fertilizer for the other plants,
but it also opens it up so there’s not a heavy
canopy on the ground. It kills off a lot of
the invasive oak trees, or other plants like Ilex Vomitoria. And then what it does
is it opens it up enough for gopher tortoises to survive. Gopher tortoises have
to have an open habitat. – [Destin] Really, is
that what’s behind you? – We have a couple back there. – [Ashlyn] I can show you
some gopher tortoises. – Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– Okay. Also–
– In fact, you will be goin’ by a tortoise enclosure where we have tortoises in there. We may not see the tortoise,
but you’ll see the burrows. – That’s awesome. So if I understand correctly, again, I just drove up on Bob here, and we don’t even know each other yet, but you’re saying that
because of the longleaf pine, you can have a whole variety
of different animals, so a forest, or planting a
tree, isn’t about the tree, it’s about the entire ecosystem. – It’s about the entire system, yes. The longleaf pine ecosystem
is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the country. It entailed, at one time,
close to 90 million acres. And now it is down to pretty
close to two million acres. – [Destin] So are you trying to rejuvenate the longleaf pine population? – We’re trying to bring it
back, in this area that we have, the Nokuse Plantation
is the name of the land, it’s 55,000 acres. – [Destin] Gotcha. – And it is a restoration
project where we’re trying to bring it back into the
old longleaf pine ecosystem it once was. – [Destin] So if I have an
option on small land plots, or something like that, to plant a tree, you would say I should
plant longleaf pine. – I would say that would
be the most appropriate tree to plant.
(Ashlyn laughs) If you’re in an upland area,
you know, deep, sandy soils. If you’re in a wetland
area, hydro community, then you don’t want longleaf
pines, you want something else. Here’s a couple right here. – Oh, they’re huge.
– Here you go. – [Destin] Those were grown here? – Yes, these are longleaf pine cones from Nokuse Plantation. – [Destin] Wow, how old
would a tree have to be before it could make something like this? – It could be probably 15 years old. – Really.
– They can start being mature at close to 15 years. – [Destin] So I’ve heard
something about, like, there’s some types of pine cones
that are activated by fire. – Yeah, this is not one of ’em. – Oh, okay.
– This one, what it requires is it requires
that fire to go through and create a bare, mineral
soil, and then the seeds drop off onto that bare sand,
and then they will germinate. If there hasn’t been fire,
that groundcover will start growing, and then these seeds
will drop and it won’t grow. – That’s amazing.
– They have to have that bare sand, yes. – [Destin] Huh, so the
underbrush, it kills stuff, or it just doesn’t get it
– It was, like it reduces it,
– to the dirt. – more than anything, yes. – [Destin] Awesome,
thank you very much, Bob. – Well, sure.
– This is great, I know this was spontaneous–
– How many have we planted? One million? – We’ve plant, the last thing I’ve heard, we planted about 8 million
longleaf pines on our– – [Destin] Here? – Nokuse Plantation. – Really.
– On our 55,000. – Nokuse is a Native American
term that means black bear. It’s spelled N-O-K-U-S-E. And the owner, the person
who purchased the land, at one time didn’t know there
were black bears in Florida. And then he became
interested and purchased the 55,000 acres, and named
it after that black bear, because eventually we are
hoping that the black bear will return on the property. – Wow.
– In good numbers, like they were at one time. – [Destin] So the whole
plan, with the trees, is to eventually get to
the natural ecosystem that used to exist here. – Yep.
– Exactly, and it takes a long time,
and Mr. Davis, M.C. Davis, who purchased the land,
decided that it was going to be a close to a 300-year
project, to actually have that restoration be a complete success. – [Destin] Which is why you’re
going with longleaf pine, because it lasts 400 years. – Because this is the
native tree that was here, to start with, that’s why
we want the tree back. It’s still one of the natives. – This is amazing, I had no idea. I just thought, like, oh, longleaf pine, that’s a type of pine tree. – Yeah.
– Yeah, that’s what most people think. – And it is, it is a type of pine tree. – But it’s the–
– But it’s– – [Destin] It’s the pine tree. (laughs) – It’s the pine tree we want, yes. – Yes.
– Exactly. – [Destin] Awesome, well,
thank you very much. Are these examples of animals
that exist in the ecosystem? – Oh, chief.
– Yes and no. – You could be here for the
next three hours, for that. – [Ashlyn] Every bit, yeah. – [Destin] How about I
just get a little bit of– – [Ashlyn] This is Bob’s
favorite thing in the world. (Ashlyn laughs)
– Yeah? – Okay, so this one he’s gonna talk about is a very important one
that specifically is in this ecosystem, and
is having a hard time, because of the lack of
ecosystem available today. – [Destin] Really. So this is an animal, oh, I
see it, is this a black racer? – This is a reptile that–
– It is not a black racer, but it is close.
– That is native to the Southeast, in the coastal plain longleaf pine ecosystem, and here she is. This is an indigo snake. – [Destin] Indigo snake, she’s beautiful. – They are the longest nonvenomous
snake in North America, attaining a length of
eight and a half feet. – [Destin] Really, and they
exist in this ecosystem. – And they are in this ecosystem because of the gopher tortoise. – [Destin] I don’t understand. – The gopher tortoise is
called a keystone species. When the gopher tortoise
digs a burrow in the ground, they have a lot of space in that burrow. And that burrow is
created for that tortoise to keep away from fire, to
keep away from predators, to hibernate in the wintertime. So a keystone species is an
animal that helps other animals. And when that gopher
tortoise builds that burrow, there’s a lot of animals,
there’s over 360 different types of animals that live in this burrow. And some of them require the burrow. The indigo snake is one
that requires that burrow. And because they’re so big, they are slow to get away from predators, they’re slow to get away from fire, so they need that burrow to get into, to keep away from fire and predators. And hibernate.
– Wow. So the tree makes the tortoise, and the tortoise makes the burrow, and the burrow makes the other species. – Yeah, yeah, you could say
that, that sounds good, yeah. – [Destin] That’s amazing. – And this snake here no
longer lives in this area. It’s been extirpated from this area, and extirpated basically means extinct from this little area, due to the loss of our gopher tortoise burrows. – [Destin] Gotcha. – And so it’s no longer here. They are in other parts of
Florida, they’re in Alabama some, in Georgia, but they need that burrow. It’s very important to ’em. – [Destin] That’s amazing,
thanks for showing me this, Bob. – Sure. – [Destin] The patterns
of the scales are so neat, there’s one–
– They are. – [Destin] One really odd
scale there, that’s neat. Hey, thanks, Bob. – Oh, sure, you’re welcome.
– Thank you very much, man, this is great.
– Thanks, Bob. – [Bob] Yeah, we’ll see
you later, you can– – I figured you were the one to talk to. – [Destin] Is that a bobcat? – [Ashlyn] It is. – [Destin] What are you doin’, bobcat? – Hiding up in the–
– So these are, wow. – [Ashlyn] That’s Zeda,
she’s a southern bobcat. – [Destin] I have never
seen a bobcat this close. (Ashlyn laughs) I can’t believe I found you guys. – I know.
– I’m gonna have to come back and do a proper visit. – Yeah. So this is a gopher tortoise. – [Destin] And these are the turtles, or they’re not turtles, they’re tortoises, that make the burrows, right? – Yes. – [Destin] And they make the burrows as a result of the longleaf pine? – So they do make it in
that nice, open, sandy soil that can be found in the
longleaf pine ecosystem, and they dig those burrows
really far into the ground, and it’s not only important for them, but they are a keystone species
because they’re gonna dig those burrows which can house up to 200, or 350 other species. Especially during those fires, so– – [Destin] She’s wavin’. – Those animals need places
to go, really good place to do that is gonna be a
big hole in the ground. – [Destin] Oh, that’s awesome. Is it cool if I hop on with you? – Yeah, definitely. – All right, so Ashlyn is
gonna show me the different stages of longleaf pine growth. I’ve seen the grass stage. – [Ashlyn] Yes, so that’s our grass stage. – [Destin] They showed me that at Auburn. – So that is our first stage. – [Destin] What’s after that? – Then we have our bottle
brush, kind of looks like it’s made for cleaning a
really big baby bottle. – [Destin] Wow, okay. How old is that? – Probably about five or six, maybe? And then our third stage, our saplings, they’ve started to get their branches, so they’re officially out
of that bottle-brush stage. – [Destin] So how old would these guys be? – These ones are probably a little closer to nine, maybe 10. We’ve got some older
ones up ahead as well, and then a couple of the adult stages. – [Destin] So those are
the older ones right there. – Yeah, we got some older ones up ahead, and then these big trees
are all gonna be our adults. Now we do have every stage on
our land except old growth. Old growth is gonna be after 80 years old, that’s when they officially
reach their old-growth stage. – [Destin] So that’s the goal. – Yes, on all of our 55,000 acres, we don’t have a single old-growth
tree that I’m aware of. They know that it’s old growth ’cause it actually gets
squishy in the middle. It gets what’s known as red heart disease, which doesn’t kill the tree, but it just makes it squishy
enough for a particular kind of woodpecker known as
a red-cockaded woodpecker to actually make its cavity
and live in the tree. – Really.
– Mm-hmm. – [Destin] That’s awesome,
so do you know of any old-growth longleaf pines in existence? – Yes, so about 2% of that
original ecosystem exists, so those would be old growth. We actually have Eglin Air Force Base, that’s right across from
us, across the main highway. They have old-growth trees,
they have red-cockaded woodpeckers and burrowing
owls and gopher tortoises, and they protect all of that, currently. So they actually have their
old-growth trees marked, you can’t go within 20 feet of them. – [Destin] Really, okay, that’s awesome. – Yeah. So that would be a gopher tortoise burrow. – [Destin] Really. – So you can always tell
it’s a gopher tortoise burrow based on the shape, always
gonna be in a perfect half-moon entrance, just
big enough for the tortoise to slide in and out of. So this would be an adult,
you can see it’s pretty big, so that would be our adult burrow. (vehicle rumbling) – Just to be clear, the goal in life is to have a job as cool as Ashlyn. (both laughing) You get to wander around outside all day, you get to educate people about science. – Oh, yes. – You get to do some cool stuff. This right here explains
everything in one shot. So what am I lookin’ at here? – All right, so this side has
been burned most recently. It’s due for a little bit of a burn, but if you look at it,
you can see, overall, that it is gonna be a
little bit more wide open of a space, so it’d be
very easy for a hawk to maybe fly through there. We’ve got a lot of
wiregrass on the ground, which means that it has been
opened up, thanks to that fire. They’ve bloomed after their
nice burn in the winter, and so they have spread their seed and they’re taking over that bottom floor. We do also have a couple
longleafs that you can see have reached their sapling stage, which means they have
been burned properly. They’re growing at a good rate. We will occasionally also
see our nice wildflowers growing in there, that nice, rich soil that we’re looking for. – [Destin] So this is what
the natural forest looks like. – Yes, if we didn’t burn
it, lightning would, and then it would eventually
have this nice open, clear area, lots of room
for the wildlife to live in. Compared to this side.
– But this side (laughs). – Not so much going on here,
we’ve got a lot of trees growing, lots of different kinds of trees, we’ve got some slash pines,
we’ve got some oak trees, yaupon hollies, taking
over, kind of crowding out some of those other pine trees
that would typically be here. Not as much wiregrass,
it hasn’t been burned, so it hasn’t spread, and then
there’s a ton of leaf litter on the ground, so we
actually call that pine straw our fuel load. If lightning were to
strike that right now, it would burn entirely too
hot, entirely too quick, and would definitely turn into a wildfire, which would be very bad. – [Destin] So if you had a fire
in here, what would happen? Like right now, because
it’s open, I mean– – Perfect conditionings,
as long as we had the wind in the proper direction,
not too humid, not too dry, we would cut off these fire lines. You can see these trails, we
would actually dig that up, ’cause sand doesn’t burn,
so we would actually make a nice little perimeter
around our burn plot and then we would actually
do a very low and slow burn against the wind, so that
it would kind of keep it from getting out of control,
and we would just let it kinda do its thing, it
would take a little bit to get its way through, and
then you’d have all of these nice pine trees still there,
a lot of these little oak trees would be gone,
wiregrass would burn up, and you’d see it growing
back the next day. – So if you think about it,
if the forest was natural, and it was a place where
fire happened often because of lightning,
what would a fire today look like here? – Far more controlled,
gonna move nice and slow across the ecosystem,
get rid of some of these little extra bushes, but
all of those pine trees would be staying strong. – [Destin] Opposed to this. – This would probably
ignite and immediately turn into a wildfire, burning
up all of these trees, and probably also damaging some
of those pine trees as well. – [Destin] So this is bad for humans, because our houses would get burned up because of stuff like this. – Exactly. – [Destin] So if we do
small, controlled burns, we can basically control
what the forest looks like and we can control the wildfires. – Exactly. – [Destin] So it’s in moderation. – Yes, which we do small burns, Eglin does giant burns. They burn with helicopters. (laughs) – [Destin] Do they really? – We burn with little torches. (laughs) – [Destin] Wow, so this
scorching that you see is from the fires. – Yes, some of them may
have burned a little hot, so you can see that it did
cause a little bit of damage, but it has not killed the tree,
the tree is still surviving and still growing, so it will
stay charred for a little bit, but there’s actually some
creatures in this area that will take that charcoal off the tree and actually use it. So it’s not a bad thing.
– What do they do with charcoal? – There’s a particular kind of ant, known as the harvester
ant, native in this area, much better than fire ants,
and they actually will take it and they put it on their nest,
and they don’t actually know for sure why, they think
the best reasoning is that it actually absorbs
more heat from the sun, and it keeps their nest
warm during the winter. – [Destin] Really, that’s interesting. I can’t tell you how awesome this was, this was great.
– Yeah. (laughs) – Thank you, this is good. Sweet, so my grandfather, I’m from north Alabama, and 60 years ago, my
grandfather tried to grow longleaf pines, and they all died. – Yeah.
– Yeah, and so I’m thinking about redoing
that, because we’re right on the edge of where
longleaf pines will grow. – Yeah, definitely. – But I didn’t know it
was because they’ll live 300 years old. – They live a long time,
and the bright side, especially in this area,
you don’t typically have to worry about
them during hurricanes, because that nice taproot
keeps ’em in the ground. They don’t tip over. – Really. – They’re more likely
to snap from heavy wind. They’ll snap in half, rather than being completely tipped up from the ground. – If they snap in half, do they die? – I think they’ll grow back, actually. – Really.
– Their root system would still be maintained. – So it’s a more sustainable tree. – It is, they’re pretty hardy. – But they’re not grown for
paper and things like that. – They can be used for lumber, and for starter wood. Starter wood a lot of times is longleaf. It actually is a very good lumber, because of how strong the wood is. It grows so slow that
it actually traps sap in the rings of the tree,
and then it never goes away. You can actually find
preserved pieces of longleaf from old houses, from
hundreds of years ago. We actually have a, out
on our property we found a really old grave site,
where the headstones are made from longleaf, and
you can’t read them anymore, but they are still there. You can see that they are headstones. – Headstones made from wood? – Yep. – Really? – That have lasted this long,
because it never goes away. They actually used to have laws that said if you were building a boat,
you had to use longleaf for your mast, ’cause
it was the only thing that was going to survive. It was the only thing that
wasn’t gonna snap and break, or deteriorate from the weather. – No way.
– Yep. – Are those, obviously those
laws aren’t still on the books, because we have steel now. – Yes. – But, oh, that’s interesting. – That’s part of why we
don’t have it around anymore, is everybody knew it was good lumber, so they cut it down, and then realized nobody had time for it to grow back. – So that law actually
led to the decline– – I’m sure it did not help. (Destin laughing) If I had to guess. – So, Ashlyn, what is your
favorite part about your job? – I love seeing kids learn about what’s in their own backyard. They never realize how
cool this ecosystem is. Half the time, they’re afraid of snakes. Turtle Bob changes that,
almost immediately. And seeing them actually
learn and be excited about the area, and want to
actually become naturalists and protect it, get it back.
– That’s awesome. That’s cool. So if I were to decide to plant a tree, what would you tell me,
what do I need to know? – I would say plant a longleaf,
if you live in an area that’ll sustain a longleaf. You’re gonna need to
be upland, not too wet, definitely stick to the native plants, stick with the native things. – So look at the local
environment, and the ecosystem, and identify the silvics
of the trees in your area, and figure out what trees will grow there, and then pick something
like that, you’d say? – Yeah, something that’s,
a lot of different animals are gonna use. – Okay, so think about
the whole ecosystem, don’t just think about the one tree. – Yeah, it doesn’t have to
look pretty, but it has a job. (both laughing) – [Destin] Is that woodpecker
like the goal, to get the– – He is the federally endangered one, he has to have the trees that
are at least 80 years old, when they get soft in the middle. They make their home in
living longleaf pines. And before 80 years old, you
don’t wanna slam your face into a longleaf pine, they’re hard. (Destin laughs) But after that 80 years, when
they get that squishiness to them, they can actually
drill their cavities, and you can see that the
sap will run down the tree, which actually protects them
from things like snakes, that would typically be
found climbing up the trees to eat them. So they are federally
protected, they are federally endangered, and that’s mostly
because they don’t have enough trees, they don’t
have those longleaf pines to make their homes in. But hopefully we’ll get some
of those old growths back, and they’ll come back into the area. – [Destin] That’s awesome. They’re always the
half-moon shape like that. Oh, because a turtle shell’s half-mooned. – Exactly.
(Destin laughs) If it’s round, it’s probably an armadillo, if it’s half-mooned, it’s
gonna be gopher tortoise. – [Destin] It took me a second. (laughs) – (laughs) This is our
cross-section of our longleaf pine. And we actually have a
timeline along with it, so we have our different
years, and you can see that this tree was starting off in 1681. And you can see we have
it all the way up until, marked until ’71, and there’s still a couple years left in there. So you can see those lines
are so tight together because not a lot of growth going on, but you can actually look at ’em sometimes and see burning years versus non-burning years,
they grow a little faster during the burning years. Areas where maybe it
was drier versus wetter, based on those rings as well. – [Destin] Really.
– Yeah. – [Destin] So longleaf pine
wood is much tighter and more dense than normal pine.
– Yes, it’s extremely dense. So you can see that these ones
are really close together, and then you’ll see that
they will start to get a little more wide, so those
are probably gonna represent years where it was burned. – [Destin] So that right there
is definitely a burn year. – [Ashlyn] Yeah, with that wide gap there. – [Destin] And that’s because they grow during seasons of fire. – [Ashlyn] Yes, they
will actually grow better after that fire, more
nutrients for the trees. – [Destin] That’s fascinating. Is this the longleaf pine? – Yes, so that’s gonna
show the original range, and then this is going to
show the current remaining. So this would be our
plantation, we’ve actually added to that, and the whole
point is that eventually, you could see that we actually
touch Eglin Air Force Base, which has that original
longleaf ecosystem on it. So there’s a lot of
animals that live here, that we actually have a
bridge that goes underneath the highway, it’s an ecopassage,
so that these animals can go from this land and
make their way onto ours and start inhabiting it as
the habitat gets to where it needs to be. – [Destin] Oh, that’s
awesome, so how many trees would you say you’ve
planted over the years? – They have planted about
8 million pine trees. – Really.
– On our land. – [Destin] And it was just
clearcut before that, or? – It was a lot of old
farmland, where they had just used the soil to the
point where it wouldn’t grow crops, but it’s perfect soil for longleaf. – [Destin] They dig it. – Yep, totally fine with that. (laughs) – [Destin] That’s awesome, sweet. So this is why you have
the tortoise right here in the beginning of the whole museum here. – [Ashlyn] That’s Shelly
the gopher tortoise. – [Destin] Shelly is here
because of the longleaf pine, that’s called the keystone species. – Yes.
– Okay, and the ultimate goal is to get the bears back. – Yes, bears take up a lot of range, they have a very large home range where they search for food,
so they need a lot of habitat. So we wanna get enough habitat for them to be able to survive. We actually have, now, about 15 bears that we know of for sure on our land, which is a good sign. They’re an umbrella species,
usually if they can survive, there’s a lot of smaller creatures along the way that can
also survive in that area. – [Destin] So you just
taught me some words. So you say you have a keystone species, that is at the bottom of the ecosystem. – So the keystone holds up
all of the other species. – [Destin] And the bear is the umbrella, so if the bear comes back, you know– – So if the bear comes
back, you can get a lot of other species behind it. The keystone species means
that they do something that, because of them, other animals survive. So keystone actually comes
from the term for doorways. When they used to build
doorways out of stones, that top stone would
take all of the pressure, and if you didn’t have that stone, the entire doorway would collapse. So that is what keeps
all of the other animals within the habitat, it
gives them somewhere to go, a burrow to hide in,
especially during fires, and they’re aerating that
soil as they’re digging those burrows as well. – So what Ashlyn and
Turtle Bob taught me today is that if you have a keystone
species like this tortoise, that will support a lot
of the different species in the ecosystem, and the ultimate goal is to hopefully get to the place
where you can have bears that return, in this case
known as an umbrella species? – Umbrella species. – Yeah, and all this is made possible by the open forest floor
caused by the longleaf pine. – Yes.
– Right? – Exactly. – [Destin] You’re smart,
and you’re very helpful. – (laughs) Thank you.
– Thank you so much, Ashlyn. Okay, again, please consider
going to and donating. Our goal is simple, all
of us content creators are coming together to work as one, we’re unified on this one topic. Please donate at, or click that donation button down at the bottom of this video. We’re gonna plant 20 million trees, and we need your help to do it. is like the most
efficient and effective way to plant trees, and I would love for you to go check it out,
because $1 for one tree, that’s like as efficient as it gets. Please consider donating there. I would be over the moon if we
hit 20 million trees by 2020. Anyway, please consider that. You can also click the donation
link down below this video. I’m Destin, you’re
gettin’ smarter every day. Have a good one, bye. (footsteps crunching)

100 thoughts on “This Tree LOVES FIRE (Longleaf Pine) – #TeamTrees Behind the Scenes

  • You should check out tree "Ökogramm" (Ecogram I guess, but not sure, how common they are outside the German forest sciences).

    They basically show which trees prefer what conditions in a very neat way.

  • After seeing the cross cut of the long leaf pine I now know my parents have a few old growth pines on their land (as well as a ton of regular long leaf pines) I've seen the sap dripping down like she was talking about too so I'll have to keep an eye out for those woodpeckers. I've always hated the trees because I had to pick up the pine cones growing up but today I've learned to appreciate them. Thanks for the knowledge! (I also live in Alabama about 45mins from Huntsville) Gettin' smarter everyday!

  • this is the type of video I really enjoy. just sit down, listen. and do some casual cubing… got a 16.39 OH ao50 if anybody wonders…. greetings from germany

  • This video is great I love it. I am a firefighter in Australia Queensland. In Australia we have a Banksia tree, most of the species require fire to open up the seed pods to then allow them to germinate.

  • 9:50 It seems that that’s a brush similar to the one in those car wash places where you put the money in and then the water comes out of the nozzle. They also have one of those types of brushes that depending on the setting you will get soap or foam. The one the man is using as a brush on the end of a really long stick and then runs a hose all the way up and connected at the top

  • Logdepole pine tree thrives when there is a fire. They drop cones that are sealed with resin and only drop their seeds after a forest fire. “Serotinous” is a scientific term for a seed that requires an environmental trigger in order to be released. – I just look this stuff up so no I am not a very smart tree man

  • I used to work as a Research Assistant in the Firelab at the Forestry department of University of Toronto writing forest fire spread simulation software. Forest fires are interesting.

  • Thank you so much for posting this video, Destin! I now have to go and look for information about what grows and what I should plant in Central Europe. It makes me wonder if we have any similar academia liaisons and testing centres to help with these decisions. There's this "wonderful" developer planning to build an apartment building next to my house, and to my outrage they got approval to cut down, among others, an 83 year old beautiful horse chestnut tree. So I'm looking for plant something in my own yard that would be sustainable and native. Last year I started planting native plants in my garden instead of foreign ornamental ones, so this is inspiring me to keep going.

  • Interesting fact… Here in Australia those short stumpy long-leafed plants (from your thumbnail) used to be called a "Black Boy Bush", because it looked like a little black boy after a bushfire had come through and burnt it's leaves off.
    Now they're called a "Black Stump", because feelings.

  • Thanks for making this video and showing some love for the long leaf pine ecosystem! It is nice to see other people that are passionate about this amazing ecosystem. While this video is only 57 minutes long, one can literally spend a life time studying, researching, and working in this ecosystem. I am currently torn between pursuing a masters that would some how involve work with the long leaf upland ecosystem or wetland ecosystems. Regardless, the long leaf ecosystem is my absolute favorite ecosystem and is near and dear to my heart (I was surrounded by long leafs growing up). If you wanted to research further on the topic there are various private and government agencies/organizations that base their work on this ecosystem as well. For example, in South Carolina, we have the Bob White Quail Initiative. They focus on restoring quail habitat, which as you probably guessed is closely associated with the long leaf pine ecosystem. Along with them you also have the long leaf alliance based out of Alabama. While awareness of the importance of the long leaf pine ecosystem is nowhere near as high as say that of the marine ecosystems, and efforts for preservation are not talked about everywhere like they are for the marine ecosystems, there are quite a few die hard folks out there working to actively preserve and restore it. I'm not going to bore you any more with my rambling on comment, but i would just like to say well done in creating this video and I hope it opens some eyes and brings awareness to some less thought of ecosystems.

  • Pine soil is acidic, the burning of underbrush adds phosphorus and potassium and other micronutrients that a plant needs to up take. The NPK shot helps put the tree in s growth spurt. There are actually flowers in the Chicagoland area that will not bloom unless there is a fire

  • So I was thinking. There are 15,000,000,000 trees killed annually/41,000,000 daily (Time Magazine)

    If successful, this campaign will produce 20,000,000 trees.

    That’s only enough to displace half a day’s worth of deforestation. The campaign is great, but shouldn’t we focus the funding on much more productive methods of driving the net carbon production lower? (ie. Chemical carbon capture, Nuclear and personal solar power, ocean algae…) Those other options sound “scary” so nobody truly fundraises/advocates for them, but planting trees sounds nice so people donate. And even though the net decrease in carbon emissions is very low per dollar.

  • And, here in Marion County, Florida, we actually opened up a hunting season on black bears because we couldn't realize we were the ones moving into their territory and irresponsibly enticing them with our garbage. 🙁

  • A very interesting and informative video. As to the bald cypress it is very prolific in germinating and needs to germinate on dry ground but will live in water. It is slow growing; about 1 foot in diameter per 100 years and it does not have growth rings. The 'knees' or growth protruding up from the roots only do that where the roots alternate wet/dry cycles. I have noticed cypress knees growth at about 1/16 inch per year. Trees planted in areas like around UT Arlington and stores and malls where they are irrigated with a sprinkler system will develop knees out of the ground. Bald cypress has fern-like leaves instead of needles.

  • If there is a digital stabilization on this video, It's not good. Motion sickness started kicking in while you were walking around. A proper handheld gimbal should help with the video edge twitching or don't use stabilization.

  • Count Dankula already convinced me and gave my 20bux but — This tree — could this be the tree that supported the huge bird population that migrated almost unseemingly long?

  • For the potential trees for your land maybe you could also consider some other trees that require more care but it's the kind of care that can be automated, could be a nice project and the subject of another video.

  • I’ve known this since I was young. There are plenty of trees that require fire to go through the germination process.

    Local to me there’s a species that only lives in like 2 places. The Torrey pine. In the Torrey pines national park and on Santa Rosa island.

  • 10:27 the same way people who believe in maintaining the ecosystems can be for the eradication of species. For example water buffalo, hogs, and Cane toads in Australia.

  • Leave nature alone! don't mess about with nature! problem is – thora, talmud and low educated people! Fck u greedy fuckers! God Bless Goodness!

  • beautiful, overexcited, maybe drugged girl! talking nonsense! LEAVE NATURE ALONE! IF U WANTS TO DO SOMETHING…??.. THEN FIGHT AGAINST TALMUD!

  • I actually recently saw at my local university someone cleaning a window in the same way. I was equally as surprised about how well that works, holding such a long stick.

  • On the topic of sustainable burning – the local moorland near the area where I live is another example of why its important for controlled burning to take place. There is a huge problem at the moment, in my area, where the current political party are very pro-life, which is fair enough however, the moorland is a grouse shoot. What they have done is stopped the grouse from being shot on the moorland which has stopped the maintenance of the land. The maintenance has stopped due to a lack of funds that would normally come from people paying to shoot the grouse. This has caused the Heather (local plant) to become overrun by large shrubs and other tall grasses as the ground is not being burnt to make way for new heather. This means the grouses natural habitat below the Heather has gone which has inturn led to a decline in grouse numbers. It has also led to a decline in many other animals that would have previously thrived. The grouse are unable to land as the grasses are too tall. Why its important to burn the land so the entire ecosystem can survive and to not be narrow minded.

  • tell me dr kush know about what they are doing in fl. also have to see the result of you soil sample. and yes you have to go back out to fl and do a proper video with turtle bob and co.

  • AMAZING video Destin! This one is better than the main channel video in my opinion, what a coincidence that you found that on the way back, such a cool tree. Never thought one species would be so crucial to a whole ecosystem. Good job on the TeamTrees fund too! As of now you're already nearing 1 million trees, it hasn't even been 24hrs yet!

  • I just want to take a moment to note that dominant American military might in the form of Eglin Air Force Base is also, somehow, doing something ecologically *right*. 👏

  • I just want to take a moment to note that dominant American military might in the form of Eglin Air Force Base is also, somehow, doing something ecologically *right*. 👏😊

  • Question: I live in FL and see these everywhere, but it's all mixed in with tons of scrub. So if the longleaf forest is the natural state of things why does all the choking scrub come up?

  • This was incredible. Both places just begging to share and educate. Even the window washer.
    Thanks for posting the whole thing.

  • Can't believe you found the second place by accident, that footage was so awesome. In general, this video is another great example why I love what you're doing, since the direct and open contact with interesting people in their field is something that I will always appreciate.

  • Didn't think I was going to watch the whole video, but then I remembered how great Destin's content is and then it was just over

  • If they plant 100 trees per day, it would take about 547 years to plant 20 million trees.

    If they wanted to get it done in one year, they'd have to plant about 54,795 Trees per day.

  • Hey Destin I was hoping you or someone else smarter than me could explain something about the gopher tortoises. I understand that they need the same conditions (sandy, bare soil) as the longleaf pine but it wasn’t explained why they need the pine itself. What is the relationship between the tortoise and the pine other than needing the same conditions?

  • Hi Destin!

    I studied biology (mostly organismal) at CSU Monterey Bay. I wanted to offer my insight related to keystone species.

    The name comes from the "key stone" in a stone archway. Without this top centermost stone, the archway falls. The example used at my university was the sea otter, our mascot.

    You see, sea otters were hunted for fur in the 1800s. Sea otters eat urchins. The result was a trophic cascade that lead to a boom in urchin populations, and urchins eat giant kelp. The end result is an ecosystem known as an urchin barren, which has a low biodiversity.

    Now that otters have returned, urchin populations have stabilized, and kelp forest has also returned. Kelp forest ecosystems provide more ecological niches to fill than urchin barrens, and have a potential for overall diversity closely second to reefs.

    The point I'm trying to make is that keystone species' most important feature is that they open niches for other species to fill, directly via extensive burrows, or indirectly through predating on a "weedy" species. This makes them high priority for conservation, as saving a keystone species greatly increases the survival chance of several species that benefit from their ecosystem services.

  • Maybe once the roots find a load of Material, thats good at absorbing and keeping water, which the pine can use it starts going.
    Or if theres the right nutritional mixture.
    Or if the root System is big/deep enough.

  • The irony here is that recycling paper comes at the cost of less trees in the world on top of the energy and chemical use. This is why recycling paper actually hurts the environment.

  • Great video – very informative, I loved it – loved the people you met along the way and their enthusiasm for nature and science! Thank you Destin!

  • I was so excited to days ago, I would love to see this goal reach, but now (as of riding) there is only 5M trees donated, and more the 40M views on the videos.
    I only half of the views gave 1$ we would already be there. But for now it does nok look like the youtube audiences is ready to commit to a cause like this yet.
    Still 5M trees is better than nothing, but I feel slightly disappointed, maybe when the first comes around and people get som money… (well if you have to wait for the first in the month to help, you probably should not donate this time around 🙂 )

    Well I still learned something, and that I way I am here.

  • 57:14
    “For you shall go out with joy,

    And be led out with peace;

    The mountains and the hills

    Shall break forth into singing before you,

    And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

  • "Little balls of fire! 🙂

    Didn't think I would watch the whole video but it just flew by! Awesome, I had never even heard of that tree before, probably because I have snow.

    53:15 Smiley 🙂

  • Destin you should consider doing a Sound Traverler episode through the Bald Cypress Wild Life refuge you begin this EP in. I bet that would be amazing as a binaural recording. These types of videos are great!

  • I loved this 57 minute video. I do wonder how well the 20 million trees are being researched following the lines of what is taught here. Anyways, thanks!

  • Planting trees is important. Maybe equally important is the planting of awareness and understanding of ecosystems and economics. Thanks, Destin!

  • hey destin, got an idea, wanted to share.
    about the release dates.
    i think you should wait a bit after the main post on the main channel to post the behind the scenes. even if its just a day.

    i know "this is a separate channel" and all that, i just watched tree stuff, and now i got another hour of tree stuff?
    it might be just me, but i burn out, and im sometimes discouraged to watch the behind the scenes immediately after the main stuff.
    just an fyi.
    awesome stuff as always, keep it up.
    i wouldnt mind seeing more about ballistics, and kinetics though if im honest.

  • I love these longer behind-the-scenes episodes — thank you. I live in Georgia near a wildlife refuge that has a red-cockaded woodpecker population. Fascinating.

  • Very nice video … Love the effort you put into learning and to Share things .. fan of you for past 4 years…. Ashlyn shared good amount of information … Thank you Ashlyn ! And as always Destin!

  • I got so excited when I saw hose bald cypress! 😊 The Peve Minaret Bald Cypress is my favorite tree right now (with the gold rush dawn redwood at a close second). At a nature center close to my house there are some lovely bald cypress with knees sticking up out of the ground. (Thanks for helping grow trees!)

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