Good Forestry in the Granite State:
Recommended Voluntary Forest Management Practices for New Hampshire
Table of Contents >>  7.3 Vernal Pools and the Surrounding Forest << 7.4 Pine Barrens >> 7.5 Old-Growth Forests



Pine barrens are a rare, fire-dependent natural community that support unique flora and fauna.

Pitch pine - scrub oak woodlands, commonly known as pine barrens, are one of New Hampshire’s rarest natural communities. These unique forests make up less than half of one percent of the state’s landcover. Historically pine barrens were more prevalent, with large pine barrens ecosystems found in the Ossipee River watershed and lower Merrimack River Valley. Today, they exist as scattered fragments.

Pine barrens are characterized by:

Barrens require periodic recurring fires for maintenance and regeneration. The plants and animals found in these ecosystems are uniquely adapted to this disturbance. For example, the thick bark of a pitch pine protects the cambium and prevents girdling during a fire. Such adaptations provide a competitive advantage in fire-prone areas. Without periodic burning, species less tolerant of fire can gain a foothold and displace the pine barrens species.

Pine barrens are home to numerous uncommon species, many of which are restricted to pine barrens habitats. They support more than 50 rare plant and animal species, including a number of rare and declining ground- and shrub-nesting birds and numerous uncommon invertebrates. Whip-poor-will, eastern towhee, and the federally protected Karner blue butterfly are just a few of the well-known, yet uncommon species.


Maintain unique pine barrens natural communities for a variety of uncommon wildlife and plant species, and to protect important groundwater resources.




3.1 Timber Harvesting Systems; 7.1 Natural Communities and Protected Plants.


N.H. Natural Heritage Bureau. 2008. Biodiversity Tracking and Conservation System (BIOTICS) database. N.H. Dept. of Resources and Economic Development, Concord, N.H.

N.H. Fish and Game. 2005. New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan. Accessed February 23, 2010.

Sperduto, D.D., and W.F. Nichols. 2004. Natural Communities of New Hampshire. N.H. Natural Heritage Bureau, Dept. of Resources and Economic Development, Concord, N.H. 229 p.

7.3 Vernal Pools and the Surrounding Forest << 7.4 Pine Barrens >> 7.5 Old-Growth Forests

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