The Myth of Nature's Constancy — Preservation, Protection and Ecosystem Management
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Transactions of the 58th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. 17-28.
Two recent essays by noted ecologists Daniel Botkin and Jared Diamond throw light on certain issues in natural resource conservation today. Botkin (1992), in A Natural Myth, relates his experience with the Hutcheson Memorial Forest, an oak forest reserve on the New Jersey Piedmont. The forest had been set aside with private funds in the 1950s to preserve the "state of harmonious balance" that would perpetuate itself for centuries if left undisturbed. Within two decades, however, it became obvious that the oaks were not regenerating and a dense maple understory had developed. So much for harmonious balance. Later studies revealed that fires, probably set by Indians, had occurred at about 10-year intervals prior to, but not after, European settlement in 1701. Fires removed the understudy and favored oaks, creating the tall, open forest which naturalists in the 1950s and 1960s thought to be original and unaffected by human influence.
DeGraaf, Richard M.; Healy, William M. 1993. The Myth of Nature's Constancy — Preservation, Protection and Ecosystem Management. Transactions of the 58th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. 17-28.