M.C. Davis's 50,000+-acre preserve in Florida's Panhandle abounds with longleaf pine--critical habitat for many endangered species. Matt Ozug/NPR
Positive news can be scarce in the world of conservation, especially lately in the United States. Sometimes it seems conservation heroes are few and far between.
Then there is M.C. Davis, a businessman and former gambler, who put together Nokuse Plantation, a 50,000+ acre swath of longleaf pine forest in Florida's panhandle.
NPR interviewed Mr. Davis on All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon radio news program. Davis calls himself a “devout conservationist," and having spent 20 years committed to planting forests, we couldn’t agree more.
And he's thinking ahead--way ahead--300 years into the future, longer than the time the U.S.A. has been an independent country. Davis hopes “that we're capable of leaving some huge biological warehouses that — if and when our country fails, and all of them do sooner or later — that hopefully the impacts wouldn't be total. That nature just doesn't have to start from scratch."
Mr. Davis’ Nokuse Plantation is in the heart of the Florida panhandle. It’s an area rich in endemic species and home to longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forest, today one of the rarest ecosystems in the United States. Most longleaf pine forest was cleared away long ago, contributing to the decline of many species, including the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).
And this region is a national priority for protection, as demonstrated by a highly regarded paper by SavingSpecies vice president Clinton Jenkins.
Says Dr. Jenkins, “This is precisely the kind of action I love to see among private property owners. Individuals can make a difference. It isn’t just the responsibility of environmental groups or the government to protect nature. From backyard butterfly gardens to huge restored ecosystems like the Nokuse plantation, people’s personal choices make all the difference.”
You can read (and hear) the full interview by clicking here.
So kudos to Mr. Davis for being a true visionary. And to NPR for reminding us that individuals can make a difference with the right information and the right heart.