THE PHOENIX FOREST by Lorus & Margery Milne


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Like the legendary bird, a forest can be reborn from its own ashes, especially if ""spot burning"" is enforced. Foresters find that controlled fires clear the ground of highly flammable dead wood (equated with the phoenix's pyre-nest), providing more space for seedlings, improving the quality of the soil, and maintaining an ecological status quo for wildlife. The Milnes primarily relate an account of an accidental fire in an unidentified forest: ground kindling accumulates for years, lightning strikes an old oak, the metal from a bander's ring holds heat. That oak and this idea may have their roots in the ""Dead Tree"" chapter of Because of a Tree; the characters on the scene are less obtrusive than those in Gift from the Sky. The Ranger and the president of the lumber company discuss the future of the forest, and if that dialogue has the casualness of a presidential address it does convey some information which is considerably amplified by the authors in the closing chapters. The characters detract from a fragile crisscross of image, incident and theorizing but generally the dramatization is not effusive.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1968
Publisher: Atheneum