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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2010

  • Title: A Century of Plantation Forestry in Massachusetts
  • Primary Author: Audrey Barker Plotkin (Harvard Forest)
  • Abstract:

    Plantation forestry was a prominent strategy in the New England landscape of a century ago, in which a deforested land and demand for timber combined with the emergence of forestry as part of the conservation movement. Massachusetts is a good case study of plantation forestry in the region. Because of its large population and industrial activity relative to the more northern New England states, and large acreages of ‘waste’ lands, planting was heavily promoted by the State Forester’s office. Indeed, some of the first publications of the United States Forest Service highlight plantations that were established in the mid-1800s in Massachusetts (Figure 1). While plantations never became as prominent as they later did in other regions of the United States, they stand out in the New England landscape, play some surprising ecological and economic roles today, and illuminate the development of forestry thought and practice in the region. For example, plantations were adopted early in watershed forests, but were later targeted for removal. Plantations now are embroiled in debates over their role in providing wildlife habitat, a function the foresters of decades ago did not anticipate. A combination of ecological and social forces make future plantation establishment in the region unlikely, but emerging (e.g. forest carbon sequestration, biomass) and as-yet-unanticipated trends may well lead to many surprises in the next century of forestry in New England.

  • Research Category: Conservation and Management, Historical and Retrospective Studies

  • Figures:
  • U:Audreypeck1909-wp.jpg