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Sea Island Flatwoods

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About the Sea Island Flatwoods

The Sea Island Flatwoods is a region located slightly inland from the Atlantic coast in Georgia and northern Florida; it can be seen as a more southerly continuation of the Carolina Flatwoods.

This area is very flat, but there is some subtle topographic variability due to several different layers of terraces which originated as the sea levels rose and fell during the Pleistocene era. These terraces have been very gently dissected. The region is mostly underlain by sand, silt, and clay of marine origin; although this region mostly tends to have acidic, consistently wet soils, there is some difference in soil texture and topographical drainage, and some regions have better-drained soils.

This region was mostly covered in southern mixed forest, with significant areas of forested wetlands. Nowadays much of it has been converted to pine plantations, mostly of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and slash pine (Pinus elliottii). Wetter areas support water oak (Quercus nigra), willow oak (Quercus phellos), American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) and cypress.

Although much of this area is sparsely population, it contains most of the metro area of Jacksonville, FL, as well as some of the more inland suburbs of Savannah, GA. Although there is almost no protected public land on the Georgia side of this region, there is a great deal in Florida's portion, including Four Creeks State Forest, Seton Creek Historic Preserve, the Thomas Creek Wildlife Management Area, Cary State Forest, Branan Field Wildlife and Environmental Area, Jennings State Forest, Raiford Wildlife Management Area, Santa Fe Swamp Conservation Area, Belmore State Forest.

Northeast along the coast, across the Savannah river, in South Carolina and onward, this region is replaced by the Carolina Flatwoods, a continuation of an ecologically-similar region. To the south, this region is similarly replaced by Eastern Florida Flatwoods. Both of these borders are arbitrary, corresponding loosely to changes in forest type associated with the differing climate. Along the floodplains of larger rivers, this region is interrupted multiple times by the Floodplains and Low Terraces. Along most of its length, this region is bordered along the coast by the Sea Islands/Coastal Marsh, although at its southernmost tip (due east of Jacksonville) there is a distinct lack of marshes and barrier islands, and this region directly borders the ocean. In the north, this region is bordered inland, to the northwest, by the Atlantic Southern Loam Plains, a region of slightly higher elevations with better-drained soils and more agriculture. South of that is a border to the west with the Bacon Terraces, followed by alternating borders to the west with the Okefenokee Plains and Okefenokee Swamp. The southernmost end of this region extends farther west and borders the Tallahasee Hills/Valdosta Limesink to the west, and also has a small area where it borders the Central Florida Ridges and Uplands to the south.