Restoring the Longleaf
When the first Europeans arrived in what is today the United States, the longleaf pine filled forests from East Texas to southern Virginia. “Longleaf was the sky, the walls, the ground of existence in the places where it grew,” write the authors of the new book Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See (University of North Carolina Press). But if you know history, you know what happened. Logging and poor land management reduced some ninety million acres of longleaf pine forest to about three million acres, taking with it an ecosystem that supported everything from the fox squirrel to the bobwhite quail.
Today, a coalition of passionate Southerners are working to restore the old king of the Southeastern forest to parts of its former habitat. Among them are conservationists Bill Finch, Beth Maynor Young, Rhett Johnson, and John C. Hall, who came together to compose the book as a guide to the longleaf pine’s history, biology, and the modern-day efforts to bring it back. Through essays and photographs, they illustrate the important role that the tree has played for centuries in the Southern forest and in the lives of those raised among its lanky trunks. “It was so much a part of our lives, so wound up with everything it meant to be Southern, that it was as impossible to discern its influence as it was to imagine a world without it,” they write. “Only when it was reduced, almost entirely, to a sea of stumps could we begin to get our arms around it.”
>Click to see photos from the book
Photos from LONGLEAF, FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE: A NEW VISION OF NORTH AMERICA'S RICHEST FOREST by Bill Finch, Beth Maynor Young, Rhett Johnson, and John C. Hall. Copyright © 2012 by the University of North Carolina Press. Photographs © 2012 by Beth Maynor Young. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu