L-A-D Foundation’s Pioneer Forest: Shortleaf Pine-Oak Woodland


Prescribed burn completed Spring 2014.

Engaged in sustainable forest management practices for more than 60 years, Pioneer Forest continues efforts to enhance the adaptive capacity of its Ozark woodland ecosystems. At 140,000 acres, the L-A-D Foundation’s Pioneer Forest is Missouri’s largest private land ownership. Since the early 1950s, this forest has employed a conservative, uneven-aged management method known as single-tree selection harvesting. Pioneer’s decades-long research of this successful method strongly indicates a truly sustainable forest management practice. Recognizing the importance of fire in managing shortleaf pine, foresters have developed fire prescriptions to reduce woody species encroachment, restore and maintain the targeted ecosystem, and enhance adaptive capacity to better cope with a range of future climates.

Project Area

This project is located within the Current River Hills subsection of the Missouri Ozark Highlands in south central Missouri between Round Spring and Eminence. The rugged terrain of the Current River Hills features extensive forest and woodlands with high ridges dominated by shortleaf pine and oak. The L-A-D Foundation owns and manages Pioneer Forest, and is working closely with partners including the National Park Service and US Forest Service on this project. The US Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry and the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund provided financial support for this project.

Management Goals

Pioneer Forest began its effort in 2007 within a small, pine-dominated portion of the projected area.  They modified their approach for an adjacent old-growth shortleaf pine tract.  The combined area includes approximately 190 acres. The project was recently expanded by 300 acres where non-commercial Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) was was completed in summer 2013 and exotic invasive species, including sericea lespedeza, crown vetch, and spotted knapweed were monitored prior to prescribed burning. An initial prescribed burn on the 300-acre expansion was completed in spring 2014.

The overall goal for the L-A-D foundation is to improve natural community health and resilience while providing timber products. The goal for this stand is to increase the number of large, high-quality logs of shortleaf pine and white oak and to restore shortleaf pine-oak woodland to more natural conditions.

Climate Change Impacts

According to the majority of climate models and a recently completed vulnerability assessment for the Central Hardwoods Region, these climate change impacts are expected in the Missouri Ozarks region by the end of the century:
Mean annual temperature increases from 2 °F to 7 °F.
Increased precipitation in winter and spring and potential declines in summer.
Increased frequency and severity of wildfire.
These climatic changes will impact woodlands on Pioneer Forest. Shortleaf pine and post oak and are projected to benefit from a warmer climate. Other species like black and scarlet oak are projected to be negatively affected by drier summers. Woodlands a

Adaptation Actions

Staff from the LAD Foundation used Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers to identify actions to enhance the adaptive capacity of pine woodland ecosystems. Adaptation tactics identified were closely in line with current management, but added an increased emphasis on restoring fire.

Shortleaf Pine-Oak Woodland
1.5. Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems.
2.1. Maintain or improve the ability of forests to resist pests and pathogens.
3.1. Alter forest structure or composition to reduce risk or severity of wildfire.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
9.5. Disfavor species that are distinctly maladapted.
10.2. Allow for areas of natural regeneration to test for future-adapted species.
Initiate a prescribed burn program: low-intensity burns every two years initially; evaluate over the long term
Remove aging northern red oak and scarlet oak that are not projected to do as well under future climate projections
Favor shortleaf pine and associated species that are projected to do well under multiple forest models (post oak, white oak)
Reduce the duff layer and woody understory to allow natural regeneration of shortleaf pine when canopy opening disturbances (such as windstorms) occur
Timber stand improvement--eliminate hardwood trees from the understory by using a "hack and squirt" (see photo)
Selective thinning and burning to reduce stand density
Maintain a diversity of tree species to avoid the risk of a catastrophic loss

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

Virgin shortleaf pine site.

Project Documents

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Leslie


Insect pests, Diseases, Upland conifers, Upland hardwoods, Fire and fuels

Last Updated

Tuesday, January 23, 2018