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Name:  Calvin
Status:   other
Age:   40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1999  


Question:
I have been told that there are more trees today in the United States of America than there were when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Is this true? If so, why?


Replies:
Rather, the forests have been recovering from clearing after the arrival of Europeans.

Anthony R. Brach, Ph.D.


I don't know how this could be determined, since there is no real way of knowing exactly what forests looked like at any given time that far back in history. Its likely that there are more trees in some places, like on the great plains, where they have been widely planted around towns and home sites; on the other hand much of what was forested land in the eastern U.S. has been converted to agriculture and urban. Certainly there are more trees now than in 1900, at the end of the great timber baron era of deforestation, and especially since the 1930's depression years much marginal farmland has been turned back to forest - but much of that was probably forested originally anyway so its hard to say whether there has been any net gain. And what exactly is meant by "more trees?" If you really mean the total number of individual trees then this is probably a true statement since virgin forests had relatively few large trees per acre, and have been replaced by young forests with more but smaller trees per acre. But if you mean total forested land I think it is a very debatable proposition.

J. Elliott


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