I know I've given a lot of background on this area, but I keep
thinking of things, and can't remember what I've posted and what I
There are 3 different areas (the same basic area with different
boundaries). First you have the ecological, or physical, pine
barrens. That covers all of or portions of 8 of our southern
counties. The Pinelands National Reserve is a smaller area of the
total physical area. The State Pinelands Area, which is basically
the same as the Pinelands NR, but with different boundaries, is a
little smaller still, I believe. This is the area managed by the
Pinelands Commission, from what I understand. The whole thing is
complicated, even to me, someone who has lived here for 24 years. A
figure of 1.1 milllion acres has been tossed around for years, but
I'm not sure if that's the acreage of the entire physical pine
barrens, or of just the National Reserve, or what. I should know
this, I suppose.
Basically we have pure pine forests, oak/pine forests, and pine/oak
forests. We also have Atlantic White Cedar swamps and hardwood
swamps (Swamp Maple and Sour Gum, mostly), dwarf pine/oak forests.
There are also marshes, vernal ponds and other similar things.
As for the forests, nearly 100% of them were cut over for charcoal
and firewood, at least once or twice since the white man came here.
The cedar swamps were all cut over for shipbuilding, cedar roof
shingles, and lumber for home construction.
The bog iron, paper and glass industries all used charcoal as fuel,
and used the cedar trees for their houses. So what we have today is
a second or third growth forest. Also, most of the old bog iron,
paper and glass-making villages have been swallowed up by the
forest, and in these places you can find the non-native trees that
once were planted around houses and public buildings, or you can
find the offspring of those non-native trees.
Not all cedar swamps regenerated as cedar swamps after being cut,
unfortunately. That's why we have more hardwood swamps and fewer
cedar swmaps than we had 100 or 200 years ago.
And as a final note, I find incredible beauty in Pitch Pines and
Shortleaf Pines (which resemble each other when old or mature), and
in cedar swamps. As for big and tall trees, finding big or tall
native trees is kind of difficult. The non-natives, ones that were
planted 200 plus years ago, those can be found more easily
For the purposes of the website, the facts in this post can be added
to some of my previous general knowledge pine barrens posts. I'm not
sure what information I've given or haven't given so far.