The Forest That Fire Made

An Introduction to the Longleaf Pine Forest

John McGuire, Carol Denhof and Byron Levan

Foreword by Rhett Johnson

Title Details

Pages: 360

Illustrations: 300 color images

Trim size: 8.000in x 8.000in



Pub Date: 04/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6359-2

List Price: $34.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Wormsloe Foundation Nature Books

The Forest That Fire Made

An Introduction to the Longleaf Pine Forest

John McGuire, Carol Denhof and Byron Levan

Foreword by Rhett Johnson

An illustrated guide to longleaf pine forests, their history, and conservation

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Longleaf pine forests are an iconic forest of the southeastern United States. Although these forests were often called “pine barrens” by early explorers and colonists, they were far from barren. Frequent and low-intensity surface fires are fueled by the unique plant diversity of the forest itself and serve as the catalyst that perpetuates the ecosystem on which many rare species depend. With this guide, authors John McGuire, Carol Denhof, and Byron Levan reveal the forest’s unique characteristics by shining a light on its inhabitants, the ecological processes that are necessary for their survival, and how we as humans play a role in shaping this ecosystem.

Covering a wide range of topics, such as the anatomy of the longleaf tree, its history (and revival), and the surrounding fauna and flora, the authors provide the general reader with a thorough understanding of a forest that used to stretch as far as the eye could see. They claim that although the remnants of this once-great longleaf pine forest exist, they are often just a reminder of its former majesty, only recognizable to the informed observer. The Forest That Fire Made is dedicated to introducing the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts to many of the unique animals and plants that their ancestors would have known.

This guide includes three hundred color images of the flora and fauna that make longleaf pine forests their habitat and more than forty detailed drawings that document the most common species of animals, plants, and insects found there. It also describes more than forty longleaf pine forests to visit in nine southern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. In these preserved areas (many of which are publicly accessible), one can still experience the majesty of these once-dominant ecological communities.

I highly commend this book to virtually any audience with a desire to know about one of the nation’s most diverse forests with both unparalleled natural and historical significance.

—Rhett Johnson, cofounder and past president of the Longleaf Alliance and retired director of the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center

The Forest That Fire Made is strikingly original. It has great value as the first dedicated guide to longleaf pine forests. . . . There are many separate guides to plants and animals of the Southeast, but this guide is unique in its detailed coverage of a threatened ecosystem and the rich diversity of plants and animals therein.

—Frederick Rowe Davis, author of Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology

Every fire province has its poster-child tree. The longleaf is special because it was also the fulcrum for promoting fire restoration nationally. This wonderfully illustrated book shows how this was possible and why the longleaf woods deserve their epithet as ‘the forest that fire made.’

—Stephen Pyne, author of Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America

The longleaf pine forest is a paradox. Although it must burn frequently to survive, it harbors hundreds of unique species, including delicate orchids, lumbering tortoises, and one of earth’s rarest woodpeckers. This delightful book expertly explains this apparent contradiction and reveals many other enthralling secrets of the Southeast’s celebrated fire forests.

—R. Scot Duncan, executive director of Alabama Audodon, author of Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity

This beautifully produced book introduces the general reader to one of the biologically richest and most aesthetically pleasing ecosystems in all of North America. The technically accurate yet highly accessible writing provides a thorough review of the ecology of longleaf pine ecosystems, including their absolute dependence on frequent fire. Packed with fascinating information about natural and human history, this contribution from John McGuire, Carol Denhof, and Byron Levan is one of the finest tributes yet to a now-endangered ecosystem that once dominated the southeastern coastal plain.

—Reed F. Noss, author of Forgotten Grasslands of the South and Fire Ecology of Florida and the Southeastern Coastal Plain

About the Author/Editor

Carol Denhof (Author)
CAROL DENHOF is the president of the Longleaf Alliance, where she leads the organization in guiding the restoration, stewardship, and conservation of the longleaf pine ecosystem. Throughout her career, much of her work has been closely linked to longleaf and specifically to the many groundcover plant species that are so important to a healthy longleaf forest. She lives in Saint Simons Island, Georgia.

Byron Levan (Author)
BYRON LEVAN works as an environmental consultant with a special focus in rare flora and associated natural communities of the southeastern United States and beyond. He has worked in several positions involving natural resource education, research, and data collection. A lifelong naturalist, he has spent many years documenting the natural world through photography. He lives in Apex, North Carolina.

John McGuire (Author)
JOHN MCGUIRE is the director of the Private Lands Fire Initiative at Tall Timbers, Inc. Prior to that he served in various capacities with private industry, many of which were responsible for bringing fire back to the South’s landscape. He also served as the outreach coordinator at the Longleaf Alliance. He lives in Auburn, Alabama.