New England is a naturally forested landscape and has been for thousands of years. Though much of the forest land converted to agriculture in the nineteenth century has since reverted back, the character and composition of these forests has changed radically. In a presentation at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on October 27, Peter Del Tredici, botanist and senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum, described New England’s emergent forests as fundamentally different from those of its past. He argued that it is impossible to turn back the ecological clock on forests so deeply impacted by decades of disturbance. In studying how forests have adapted to change—natural disasters, shifting land-use patterns, introduced pests and pathogens, invasive species, acid rain, and climate change—Peter advocates for a more pragmatic approach in conserving and stewarding our woodlands in the future.
Read the Harvard Gazette article.