Pine Rockland Forest at Sunset – Picayune Strand Forest
Pine Rockland forest, once one of South Florida’s most widespread ecosystems, now remains only in a few precious preserved pockets.
South Florida’s Pine Rockland Forest is a disappearing habitat. They signal relatively high ground, which doesn’t seasonally flood. For this reason, both by Native Americans and pioneers sought out this habitat to colonize. The pattern continues. Much pine rockland disappears every year as developments sprawl into the unprotected portions of the Everglades. And the damage is two fold: pine rockland habitat that is simply in the vicinity of new developments will eventually morph into hardwood forest, because of fire control. Periodic fires are necessary to maintain pine rockland. The fires help the pine cones germinate, and also kill young hardwoods that grow faster than the slash pines. In my opinion, these pine rockland forests are most beautiful at sunset. The setting sun silhouettes the slash pines, drawing attention to their odd shape. They are often so thin, with the leaves bunched so close to the top, in what I can only assume is a method of surviving the brush fires that sustain their habitat.
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