- Moesswilde, Morten Josef
University of Maine Graduate School
The structure and response to disturbance of the natural, pre-colonial forests of North America have long been of interest. Such understanding is important for managing natural areas, outdoor recreation opportunities, and industrial forests. In the northeastern United States and Canada, forest development has been extensively affected by human activity, making such information on natural forests difficult to obtain.
Early observers of harvesting in northern New England described virgin spruce fir stands in the late nineteenth century which were clearly different from the present forest, in terms if composition, as well as size and age structure (Cary 1984a 1986; Hosmer 1902; Westveld 1931, 1928; Murphy 1917). Cary (1894a) determined an average age of harvested spruce in 1983 to be approximately 200 years, whereas less than 12 percent of Maine's spruce-fir forest ca 1980 was greater than 90 years old (Seymour 1985). These authors and others (Chittenden 1905; Hawley and Hawes 1912; Ring 1902) also noted the rarity of unharvested stands around 1900, and described natural disturbances and their impact on development. Remnant virgin red spruce-balsam fir stands in the eastern United States has been described as uneven or all aged, with maximum ages of spruce well above 200 years (Ooosting and billings 1951; Leak 1975; White et al. 1985; Bushing and Wu 1990; Adams and Stephenson 1989).