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1700-1850 Leah Kent. Nipmuc people the Native American Nipmuc people were the original inhabitants of Petersham, Massachusetts numbered about 15,000 people.

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Presentation on theme: "1700-1850 Leah Kent. Nipmuc people the Native American Nipmuc people were the original inhabitants of Petersham, Massachusetts numbered about 15,000 people."— Presentation transcript:

1 Leah Kent

2 Nipmuc people the Native American Nipmuc people were the original inhabitants of Petersham, Massachusetts numbered about 15,000 people before Europeans arrived killed by diseases carried by Europeans and were casualties in war reduced to 3,000 people by the late 17 th century used land more conservatively would have used land more conservatively than Europeans and wasted few resources

3 European Values  Trying to survive and prosper in a new land  Did not have as much environmental knowledge as we do today; were not intentionally damaging ecosystems  Were unable to understand the consequences that their consumption of land were causing  Valued money over land conservation “The soil is rich and fertile, and the lands bear all kinds of grain, but most natural to grass and pasturage, and from the appearance and face of the town, we must judge the inhabitants to be industrious and wealthy, who subsist mainly by the cultivation of the earth.” -taken from a history of Petersham written in 1793

4 manages Who manages the land? In the past, the Nipmuc people were the only inhabitants of Petersham... Land use: consisted of managing the landscape to supply game, boats, housing materials, and small scale farming Then, early colonists arrived... Land use: clearing it for agriculture and harvesting for fuel, tools, and housing Finally, Petersham farmers took control... Land use: capitalized on neighboring markets to generate capital and improve their standard of living

5 In the 1600’s, the Petersham area was comprised of two kinds of mature forests: –A warm, low elevation with oak and hickory trees –A higher, cooler highland with beech, sugar maple, and hemlock making up a hardwood canopy –Both types contained white pine and chestnut trees –Still had strong, diverse ecosystem At this time, the forests were inhabited by the Nipmuc people –Used for Indian corn, squash, beans and tobacco –Forests burned regularly to clear land and improve habitats –Original inhabitants did little to damage the ecosystem, most was left in its original state

6  Natural forest begins to disappear as:  Population increased  Forests were cleared for homesteads, livestock pasture, and row crops  Colonists used horse-drawn wagons or ox-carts as their primary form of transportation  Found that surplus grain = personal wealth  In 1771, an inventory of land use in Petersham reported:  845 acres of livestock pasture  443 acres of crop tillage  958 acres of mowing  256 acres of meadow.  This total of 2,502 cleared acres represented about 12% of the town  By 1830, 77% of the land in Petersham had been cleared

7  Westward expansion helps economy  Residents continued to clear more and more land for farming  Provided food for large cities such as Providence, Boston, and New York  Petersham takes a turn for the worse  Ecosystem weakens; species cannot function properly without a proper amount of land  City dwellers find that food shipped from Chicago is cheaper than Petersham’s  Farmers went broke and abandoned land  By 1870, at least half of the open land was no longer being farmed  Forest succession  Forest succession takes over the land; plants begin to grow again

8 Vegetation follows established patterns of re- growth and change after disturbance by farming, timber harvesting, or fire. This process of predictable change in the plant species is called forest succession.

9 By the late 1800's By the late 1800's The majority of the land had become abandoned The U.S. government created the United States Forest Service. Colleges and universities began opening schools of forestry Harvard Forest Harvard Forest In 1907, two graduates of Harvard offered the University a large tract of land in Petersham for their new School of Forestry silviculture Harvard Forest was used for silviculture (the science, art and practice of caring for forests with respect to human objectives) Harvard has continued to manage the 3000 acres of forest land ever since Today mixed hardwood forests cover nearly 85% of the landscape in Petersham

10 Changes in land use Changes in land use in Massachusetts from

11 Conclusion Learn from our mistakes: –Indians did not overwork the land, but used it to provide for their needs –The Petersham farmers made a mistake by trying to use the land to provide for too many people Preserving forest = preserving ecosystem –With the arrival of the Europeans, the forest was diminished and caused damage to the ecosystem –It is possible to use the land to provide for our needs without also excessively destroying habitats as some Petersham inhabitants did Forest history is important to present conservation efforts. Leah Kent Agro-Ecology J2 March 12, 2006


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