Piney Point Tract Forest
Six forested communities are present within the Piney Point Tract (Figure 1, Table 1). Historically Early to Mid-Successional Loblolly Pine Forest was the most common forest followed by Chesapeake Bay Nonriverine Wet Hardwood Forest. At the current time, Northeastern Coastal Plain Mixed Oak/Heath Forest is the most forest community with the same forest in second. Three forests have declined overall since 1937, while the other three have increased. United States National Vegetation Classification System codes are given with forest names.
|Table 1. Piney Point Tract Forest
|Chesapeake Bay Nonriverine Wet Hardwood Forest||180,170.02||159,075.62||161,396.29||163,098.04|
|Coastal Loblolly Pine Wetland Forest||109,748.10||31,722.43||31,715.54||34,289.21|
|Early to Mid-Successional Loblolly Pine Forest||358,352.03||115,456.38||114,842.78||114,519.81|
|Northeastern Coastal Plain Mixed Oak/Heath Forest||29,667.00||177,671.59||176,058.66||173,475.07|
|Northeastern Modified Successional Forest||0.00||15,086.25||16,889.51||17,608.37|
|Successional Maritime Forest||34,882.30||111,769.40||110,310.53||92,651.61|
Overview of Forest Communities
Chesapeake Bay Nonriverine Wet Hardwood Forest (CEGL004644)
This forest community has decreased in area overall since 1937, but has increased in the recent period (2002-2012). The recent increase is due to a give and take between Coastal Loblolly Pine Wetland Forest.
Coastal Loblolly Pine Wetland Forest (CEGL006137)
This coastal pine forest has decreased overall since 1937, but has seen a recent increase coming from Early to Mid-Successional Loblolly Pine Forest maturing to it. Not seen in the figures, however, are decreases due to sea level rise converting this forest to shrubland or marsh.
Early to Mid-Successional Loblolly Pine Forest (CEGL006011)
This successional pine forest has lost the most area of any of the forest communities since 1937. Most of the forestland in 1937 was recovering from cutting and this forest is one of the first to come in. This community will continue to decrease as it matures to other forests.
Northeastern Coastal Plain Mixed Oak/Heath Forest (CEGL006269)
This forest occupies the highest land in the tract and has overall increased in area since 1937. However, in the recent period it has decreased from 2002 high. Some of this observation has come conversion to marsh.
Northeastern Modified Successional Forest (CEGL006599)
This forest was not present in 1937 and is the result of exotic plant species invasions. During the recent time, area has increased with more invasion.
Successional Maritime Forest (CEGL006145)
Maritime Forest saw an overall increase since 1937 from maturing Early to Mid-Successional Loblolly Pine Forest. But due to its location, it has seen a marked decrease from sea level rise conversion to shrubland and marsh. This trend will is projected to continue in the future.
Factors leading to loss of Forestland
Due to sea level rise, marsh has been encroaching into the forests of Piney Point Tract and in Assawoman Wildlife Area in general. Coastal Loblolly Pine Wetland Forest and Successional Maritime Forest have experienced this more often because of location. Pictured below is marsh encroaching into the loblolly forest.