More Trees Today?
Date: Around 1999
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?
Rather, the forests have been recovering from clearing after the arrival of
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virgin forests had relatively few large trees per acre, and have been
replaced by young forests with more but smaller trees per acre.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.
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Update: June 2012