The Longleaf Ecology and Forestry Society (LEAFS) is a non-profit tax-exempt organization founded in 1993 to promote the use of longleaf pines in reforestation by small private landowners, chiefly those owning 100 acres or less.
We do this through two demonstration tracts in Alachua County, Florida, designed to show how longleaf pines can be profitably grown and sold as timber while maintaining a viable ecosystem. The tracts show how small landowners can use low impact, low cost, ecologically beneficial methods of timber management. Our name reflects an admiration for the longleaf ecosystem, as well as an appreciation of the financial rewards which can be obtained by growing longleaf as a forestry tree.
The pine flatwoods sites LEAFS maintains were once occupied by virgin longleaf pines, but having been used for a variety of purposes in the past 100 years, they are now much altered. Most of the longleaf pines were cut many years ago. Through the use of prescribed burning, selective harvesting, and replanting with desired species, LEAFS is restoring the tracts to a more natural condition that will show how -- once re-established -- the longleaf pine ecosystem can be maintained and utilized for the sustainable production of forestry products on a commercial basis.
The demonstration tracts are open to the general public for non-consumptive recreational uses and interpretive trails are maintained to show the management practices utilized by LEAFS. Although to the casual visitor parts of the tracts might in many ways resemble a park or nature preserve, the interpretive materials make it clear that a fundamental objective of LEAFS is production of timber, in addition to preservation of a longleaf pine ecosystem. Other objectives, all of which are important to the primary objectives, are restoration and enhancement of native wildlife habitats, protection and conservation of soil and water resources, improvement of the aesthetics of the property, and increased opportunities for passive recreation.
The LEAFS tracts, each of about 90 acres, are located in northeastern Alachua County, Florida, on County Road 1471. The nearest town is Waldo, midway between Starke and Gainesville. The turnoff onto County Road 1471 from U. S. Highway 301 is about 2 1/2 miles southeast of Waldo. You are welcome to visit LEAFS any time.