Monday, June 15, 2015

Native Americans altered forests' makeup for protection and food

Researchers modeling for forest tree species distribution in western New York found that the expected distribution didn't match historical records.  The areas of the most discrepancies were located around historical Native American villages.  Trees around those sites were apparently chosen to provide food and protection for the inhabitants, so trees more susceptible to fire were documented infrequently and nut bearing trees were found in abundance.  It's estimated that as much as 20% of the land in Chautauqua county, New York is still impacted to this day.

American chestnut (Castanea dentata) by USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Archive, USDA Forest Service, SRS,