NE forests were old growth not cultured.

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NE forests were old growth not cultured.

Post by Lucas » Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:31 pm

But, Foster said, the data reveal a new story. “Our data show a landscape that was dominated by intact, old-growth forests that were shaped largely by regional climate for thousands of years before European arrival.”

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Re: NE forests were old growth not cultured.

Post by dbhguru » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:04 am


No surprise to me in what David said in the article. Through their decades-long pollen grain research, Harvard Forest has progressively moved away from the belief that Native Americans routinely torched the landscape with reckless abandon for millennia - at least here in the Northeast. The native people certainly had dramatic impacts near their village sites and in fertile river valleys, but the extent to which they impacted the overall landscape through fire in the Northeast was far less than authors like Tom Bonnicksen presented when he portrayed Native influence as ubiquitous. His book America's Ancient Forests: from the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery makes a strong pitch for Native American "management" of the landscape to such an overwhelming degree that it is hard to image anything not human crafted - if you believe Bonnicksen. In my view, Bonnicksen got way out over the tips of his skis, although his book is a good read.

Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Re: NE forests were old growth not cultured.

Post by JHarkness » Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:26 am

This is a topic I have thought much about recently, and I generally don't fall for the idea that all of our New England forests were burned into oak forests; people often assume that all that mattered to the indigenous peoples of North America were abundant game and nut and berry producing plants, therefore that would have been all they managed for, but these are the wild foods that are still viewed as somewhat "normal" by our society, so I think there is a bias against other food species which they relied on; we tend to forget that they also depended on species that wouldn't be benefitted by landscape-scale burning. Maple and wild leek, for instance, were extremely important for many tribes in New England, and neither would be benefitted by significant burning. That said, I do have the impression that a lot of forests were managed, but simply not at the scale that many claim they were - I think more about releasing crop trees through girdling competition than about carelessly burning the whole landscape.


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