The Ebb and Flow of Eastern American Forests

As today’s WaPo explains, “Between 1630 and the nadir of Eastern forests in the late 1800s, the East lost about 1,000 acres of forest a day.”  Over the course of the 20th Century, the forests came back.  But now they are under threat again from invasive insects, uncontrolled deer populations, and other ecological imbalances.  “Already, scientists say, the Eastern forest is shrinking — between 1997 and 2007, it was reduced by 1.4 million acres, an area larger than Delaware.”

The lesson here is a fairly familiar one.  Just “leaving things alone” is not enough in a world where humans have some profoundly perturbed ecosytems through resource extraction, fragmentation, climate change, predator and fire control, and introduction of invasive species.  We are stuck with the job of actively managing even our “unmanaged” lands.

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