Wednesday, September 9, 2009


People tend to think of the Amazon or Africa when they hear the word 'deforestation', and yet we've got rampant deforestation of our parks and open spaces occurring right here in Fairfield County. This doesn't involve cutting down trees, and most people cannot see it. Take a look at the picture below, taken in Orange, for example:

You might think it's a healthy forest with pretty green ferns. But do you see any shrubs? Any wildflowers? Any tree seedlings? This is NOT what a healthy forest looks like.

What you see is what the deer cannot eat. They don't eat hayscented fern, which is a native species that can become invasive when there are too many deer (because the deer have eaten everything else). Obviously, they also don't eat tree trunks. They do, however, eat tree seedlings, native shrubs, and wildflowers, which is why you don't see any.

This is a young forest and the trees will keep growing for decades. But someday, they will die, from old age, or maybe we'll have another '38 hurricane, which blew down a couple billion trees. And then what? With no tree seedlings, what will become of our forests? Will they turn into grassland? Or just fill up with thickets of unpalatable invasive species like burning bush and Japanese barberry, and maybe some vines like greenbrier and the insidious Mile-A-Minute vine (the new one that can grow up to 6 inches per day). I don't think anyone really knows.

1 comment:

Tom H. said...

You make a good point with the huricane example. Never thought about that aspect before.