Synopses & Reviews
Covering 92 million acres from Virginia to Texas, the longleaf pine ecosystem was, in its prime, one of the most extensive and biologically diverse ecosystems in North America. Today these magnificent forests have declined to a fraction of their original extent, threatening such species as the gopher tortoise, the red-cockaded woodpecker, and the Venus fly-trap. Conservationists have proclaimed longleaf restoration a major goal, but has it come too late?
In Looking for Longleaf, Lawrence S. Earley explores the history of these forests and the astonishing biodiversity of the longleaf ecosystem, drawing on extensive research and telling the story through first-person travel accounts and interviews with foresters, ecologists, biologists, botanists, and landowners. For centuries, these vast grass-covered forests provided pasture for large cattle herds, in addition to serving as the world's greatest source of naval stores. They sustained the exploitative turpentine and lumber industries until nearly all of the virgin longleaf had vanished.
Looking for Longleaf demonstrates how, in the twentieth century, forest managers and ecologists struggled to understand the special demands of longleaf and to halt its overall decline. The compelling story Earley tells here offers hope that with continued human commitment, the longleaf pine might not just survive, but once again thrive.
Longleaf pine once flourished across the South in park-like forests of astonishing beauty and diversity--the most extensive forest ecosystem in North America. Much of the region's history is connected to these trees, which were exploited for agriculture, pasturage, timber, and naval stores. Today longleaf pine forests are recognized as one of the world's most endangered ecosystems. This book blends human and natural history to reveal the compelling story of these magnificent trees and also addresses current conservation and restoration efforts.
"Easy to digest for a non-technical reader. . . . Remarkably complete."
Natural Areas Journal "A welcomed addition on an important topic. . . . Should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of conservation in the South."
Georgia Historical Quarterly "A history of the southeast, an informative natural history, and a paean to a beautiful tree."
Southeastern Naturalist "Lawrence Earley's Looking for Longleaf is such an engaging book that I read it straight through from prologue to epilogue."
Dave Egan, Ecological Restoration "Richly detailed, impeccably researched and at times controversial: this merits a place alongside Bartram in the library devoted to the South."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review "A fine, informative read for anyone interested in acquiring a general understanding of this interesting forest ecosystem."
Choice "The decline of the longleaf pine is a complex story, well and thoroughly told by Earley."
Wilson Quarterly "This is the definitive book on longleaf pine. For people curious about biology and history, it is fascinating."
About the Author
Lawrence S. Earley, former editor of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine, is a writer and photographer living in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Land of the Longleaf Pine
Part I. Ecology
Chapter 1. What Bartram Saw
Chapter 2. Fire in the Cathedral
Chapter 3. A Wondrous Diversity
Chapter 4. Webs of Life
Part II. Exploitation
Chapter 5. Piney Woods People
Chapter 6. Tar Kilns and Tar Heels
Chapter 7. Getting Turpentine
Chapter 8. A Reckless Destruction
Chapter 9. Assault on the Southern Pines
Part III. Forest Management
Chapter 10. Forestry Practice and Malpractice
Chapter 11. Health, Quail, and Fire
Chapter 12. Fools for Longleaf
Part IV. Ecosystem Restoration
Chapter 13. Woodpeckers and Forests
Chapter 14. Restoring an Ecosystem
Epilogue: A Presence on the Land?