Some of the most beautiful lowland communities in the Pinelands are the Savannas or Wet Meadows.
They vary greatly in size and species make-up, but are recognized by the lack of trees, and abundance of herbaceous plants, grasses, sedges, and rushes. This is another hotspot for rare plants, some of them of worldwide significance. They include globally rare species such as New Jersey Rush, Bog Asphodel, and several of the Beaked-rushes.
[+ ZOOM] Savanna with pitcher plant and bog asphodel PPA
[+ ZOOM] Touring a savanna along the Batsto PPA
Experts say many of the savannas are shrinking due to natural succession, the process by which open areas gradually become colonized grasses, then shrubs, and finally by forest trees. It is likely that people who were digging out bog iron long ago created at least some of the savannas we see today. The process undoubtedly severely disrupted the land surface, leaving a wide, wet, sandy/mucky surface. No one knows how long it may have taken such areas to become colonized again by plants, but we may be seeing a late stage of the long, complex process of succession in these shrinking sites. In natural cycles, some savannas would be maintained and, occasionally, created by wildfires and storms. Today, humans suppress wildfires in the Pine Barrens to protect property and lives. The effect of wildfire suppression on savannas is one of several ways in which our efforts to prevent uncontrolled fires is shaping the natural landscape of the Pine Barrens.