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Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural…

Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England

by Tom Wessels

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223378,035 (4.44)13



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I’m so mad that I won’t get a chance to put the observational exercises and information into practice because I will probably never live in New England again and Wisconsin is quite different (no stone walls for example!). The forest has always been a special place for me and learning how to read the signs of natural changes and human passage makes it even better. I never feel alienated in the woods, but nothing I've read helped me connect the way this book did. It was amazing to find another person who feels so passionate about the woods. If you're a New England naturalist or photographer or someone who just loves the outdoors; go get this book before it goes out of print! ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Jan 13, 2016 |
I loved reading this book! I feel very at home in New England, and this book deepened this sense. I'm an amateur landscape-reader, and found that this book helped me know what's next in building this skill. By becoming more observant, we grow closer to our environment.

Interesting Tidbits

Almost all of the stone walls in New England were build between 1810 and 1840, and were a minimum of four-and-a-half feet tall! The traditional method of fencing used split rails, but deforestation led to a shortage of lumber for such use. This period was known as Sheep Fever, as a severe economic bubble formed around merino wool. New England became home to millions of merino sheep during this brief period.

Riparian areas were home to forests similar to the Redwoods in California: four-hundred-plus-year-old white pines over two-hundred feet tall.

Beavers went extinct for a while in New England due to the fur trade. Along with Native Americans, beavers were the other primary keystone species, transforming landscapes with their lifestyles.

New England was covered by a glacier up until 15,000 years ago. And yet we didn't arrive at today's rough forest composition until 3,000 years ago!

Sugar maples are susceptible to crown die-off due to salt. This is quite unfortunate, as the largest and most-accessible sugar maples tent to be adjacent to roads.

Types of disturbance:
*Beaver activity
*Blowdowns ( )
1 vote willszal | Jan 3, 2016 |
This was required reading for an environmental history class; I can guarantee that you'll never look at the landscape in the same way again! There are so many clues about what has happened to that forest if you only know what you're looking for, and this book will help you with that. ( )
  schatzi | Sep 20, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0881504203, Paperback)

Landscape is much more than scenery to be observed or even terrain to be traveled, as this fascinating and many-layered book vividly shows us. Etched into the land is the history of how we have inhabited it, the storms and fires that have shaped it, and its response to these and other changes.

An intrepid sleuth and articulate tutor, Wessels teaches us to read a landscape the way we might solve a mystery. What exactly is the meaning of all those stone walls in the middle of the forest? Why do beech and birch trees have smooth bark when the bark of all other northern species is rough? How do you tell the age of a beaver pond and determine if beavers still live there? Why are pine trees dominant in one patch of forest and maples in another? What happened to the American chestnut? Turn to this book for the answers, and no walk in the woods will ever be the same. 60 black-and-white etchings and illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:20 -0400)

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