Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

November 4, 2012

The rewilding of the Northeast

Filed under: Culture,Wildlife — Razib Khan @ 9:52 pm

Lake Placid, credit: Wikimedia

If you accept the thesis reported by Charles C. Mann the great eastern forest which the American settlers turned into farmland was actually secondary growth. The consequence of the depopulation of vast swaths of North America of its indigenous population due to disease which preceded the expansion of Europeans (recall that until 1800 whites hugged the Atlantic coast, leaving the interior to indigenous people by and large). And yet by 1900 that great forest was gone. Now it’s back again. A piece in The Wall Street Journal highlights how incredibly robust the recovery has been, America Gone Wild:

…Since the 19th century, forests have grown back to cover 60% of the land within this area. In New England, an astonishing 86.7% of the land that was forested in 1630 had been reforested by 2007, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Not since the collapse of Mayan civilization 1,200 years ago has reforestation on this scale happened in the Americas, says David Foster, director of the Harvard Forest, an ecology research unit of Harvard University. In 2007, forests covered 63.2% of Massachusetts and 58% of Connecticut, ...

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