Land & Resources Management

Prescribed burn in the OcalaThe Ocala National Forest is noted for its sand pine scrub ecosystem. The rolling hills contain the largest concentration of sand pine in the world and the largest remaining area of the imperiled Florida scrub habitat.

Growing on deep, prehistoric sand dunes, the scrub is a unique plant community that is home to the threatened Florida scrub-jay, sand skink, Florida bonamia plant and many other rare species.

Within this sea of sand pine and scrub oaks, longleaf pine islands provide a different view with open park-like stands of trees over a diverse grassy groundcover. Wildlife species of interest include the bald eagle, Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, indigo snake, and red-cockaded woodpecker.

The forest’s porous sands and largely undeveloped character provide an important recharge for the Floridan aquifer. Freshwater springs produce several hundred million gallons of water each day. Crystal clear springs, pothole marshes, and sinkhole lakes provide year-round recreation opportunities and unique aquatic habitats.

Management of this public resource is the most important role of the National Forests in Florida. Learn more about our stewardship of the land below.

Timber harvests: why and how
Collection and commercial use of forest products


The Big Scrub

Young sand pine scrub

In 1908, when the Ocala National Forest was established, the Forest was comprised mostly of sand pine scrub. This unique ecosystem, referred to as the Big Scrub, is what is left of a chain of islands before the sea retreated 25 million years ago.

Prescribed burns

Prescribed burn

Why are fires set intentionally in the Ocala National Forest? It's an important part of managing the land for wildlife and wildflowers. Learn more about our prescribed burn program and how it affects you.


Managing Flora

Florida willow (Salix floridana)

As the world's largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest, the Ocala National Forest is home to rare and endangered plant species, including some found nowhere else on earth.

Managing for Wildlife

Florida black bear cubs

The habitats of the Ocala National Forest are actively managed to protect our wildlife population, particularly species such as the Florida black bear and Florida scrub-jay.


Heritage Management

Pittman Visitor Center

The Ocala National Forest is a unique tapestry of interwoven ecosystems upon which human history has unfolded. It's a part of our mission to preserve that past.

Watershed Protection

Lake Charles

National Forests were created for several purposes. One was to help protect watersheds and provide clean water.