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St. Simons Land Trust


As a member of the St. Simons Land Trust, you can be sure that your dollars go to work directly in our community to preserve the scenic and natural qualities of the Island.

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Photo by Eliot VanOtteren


The Maritime Forest Restoration research at Cannon's Point Preserve began in December 2015 when live oak seedlings were planted with partners from Purdue University, New Mexico State University and The Nature Conservancy after a southern pine beetle outbreak resulted in logging at the Preserve.

The research has included four different experiemnts in four different phases that have provided significant information about live oak survival.

  • Damage caused by animal browse
  • Natural vegetation competition
  • Shade tolerance
  • Alternatives to fencing


Emily Thyroff
Phase 4

In October of 2018, Emily Thyroff (pictured above) successfully defended her masters’ thesis at Purdue University focusing on the first three phases of the restoration study. The St. Simons Land Trust is extremely proud and grateful for all of Emily’s persistence and dedication to this research project. Below are updates from Emily about Phases 1-4.


At Cannon's Point Preserve there are four phases of maritime forest restoration research. Live oak is a keystone species in maritime forests, so each phase had live oak seedlings planted to start the restoration process.  In total, 1,470 research trees have been planted at different plots at CPP.

Phase 1: Great seedling survival and growth after 3 growing seasons (planted in December 2015). Overall 293 out of 480 individuals survived (61%). Seedlings grew better in fenced plots compared to non-fenced plots. Removing competing vegetation helped increase growth even more for seedlings in the fenced plots.
Phase 2: Again, great seedling survival and growth after 2 growing seasons (planted in February 2017). Overall 604 out of 800 individuals survived (75.5%). Greater survival in clearcut (81.5%) and heavy thin (81%) than no thin (65.5%). Light thin intermediate (73%). Seedlings grew better with more sunlight, therefore seedlings in clearcut plots had greatest growth, followed by heavy thin, light thin, and lastly no thin plots. Vegetation control increased growth in clearcut and heavy thin plots whereas vegetation control did not increase growth in light thin or no thin plots.
Phase 3: Established February 2017, 40 total research saplings planted (2-year-old gallon container), 100% survival. There was substantial growth after 2 growing seasons (planted in February 2017). On average, 22 cm of height growth, 9 mm of diameter growth.
Phase 4: Established November 2018. 150 total research seedlings planted (another 150 seedlings planted at Harris Neck as a replicate) looking at alternatives to fencing. The seedlings either have tube, mesh, or no shelter to protect them from deer browse. Additionally, seedlings either received fertilizer to help with growth or did not. (data collection will be conducted in the fall of 2019).


More data will be collected in the fall of 2019.