Longleaf forests once covered 92 million acres from Texas to Maryland to Florida. These grand old-growth pines were the "alpha tree" of the largest forest ecosystem in North America and have come to define the southern forest. But logging, suppression of fire, destruction by landowners, and a complex web of other factors reduced those forests so that longleaf is now found only on 3 million acres. Fortunately, the stately tree is enjoying a resurgence of interest, and longleaf forests are once again spreading across the South. Blending a compelling narrative by writers Bill Finch, Rhett Johnson, and John C. Hall with Beth Maynor Young's breathtaking photography, Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See invites readers to experience the astounding beauty and significance of the majestic longleaf ecosystem.
The authors explore the interactions of longleaf with other species, the development of longleaf forests prior to human contact, and the influence of the longleaf on southern culture, as well as ongoing efforts to restore these forests. Part natural history, part conservation advocacy, and part cultural exploration, Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See highlights the special nature of longleaf forests and proposes ways to conserve and expand them.
Bill Finch is senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation and executive director of the Mobile Botanical Gardens. Beth Maynor Young is a conservation photographer and a conservation realtor. Rhett Johnson is cofounder and president of the Longleaf Alliance, Inc. John C. Hall is curator of the Black Belt Museum at the University of West Alabama. Young and Hall are coauthors of Headwaters: A Journey on Alabama Rivers.
"[Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See] pays tribute to a tree that's been a fixture in the Southern forest for centuries."
– Garden & Gun blog
"I lost several hours paging through the evocative pictures in this book, and the text is equally absorbing."
– The New York Times
"A truly lovely coffee table book, which anyone who loves the great outdoors will appreciate."
– Doc Kirby, WTBF-AM/FM
"The longleaf pine, presiding over the biologically richest region of North America, is well served by this beautifully written book."
– E. O. Wilson, from the Foreword
"A beautiful account of one of the continent's classic ecosystems, this book will play a role in reviving the longleaf pine to at least a semblance of the glory it once commanded!"
– Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"Beth Young and company have done it again! This fascinating and layered story of the magnificent longleaf pine – and its important place in our landscape and culture – is one that all southerners need to know."
– Rick Middleton, executive director of the Southern Environmental Law Center