Native Americans, Smokey bear and the rise and fall of eastern oak forests

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Abstract

Vegetation change is brought about by natural and anthropogenic processes, as well as an interaction of the two. Natural processes that impact vegetation include climate change, ecological disturbances, insect and disease outbreaks, extreme weather events, geologic phenomenon, and plant succession. The magnitude of anthropogenic disturbances in North American forests changed dramatically following European settlement. These included extensive logging and land clearing, often associated with catastrophic fire, followed by the onset of the fire control era in the early 20th century, and the introduction of exotic insects and diseases. In contrast, fire suppression policy during the Smokey Bear era appears to be leading to the demise of many historically dominant trees in the eastern US. Another important indication of humans' role in the ecology of eastern North America is the long-term persistence of disturbance- dependent vegetation types where natural disturbances are not particularly inherent to the system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-154
Number of pages14
JournalPenn State Environmental Law Review
Volume18
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law

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