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


Prescribed burn completed Spring 2014.

Project Documents

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.

Contact: Leslie Brandt

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 Location and Partners

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.  

Climate Change and the Pioneer Forest

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 are adapted to frequent, low-intensity fires, but could be negatively impacted if fires become too severe. 

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. 

Current Project Status

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.


virgin pine site Virgin shortleaf pine site.












Tree marked for timber stand improvement. 







Updated  September, 2015.