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New England Forests Through Time

New England Forests Through Time

Insights from the Harvard Forest Dioramas

David R. Foster, John F. O’Keefe

ISBN 9780674003446

Publication date: 08/01/2000

Over the past three hundred years New England's landscape has been transformed. The forests were cleared; the land was farmed intensively through the mid-nineteenth century and then was allowed to reforest naturally as agriculture shifted west. Today, in many ways the region is more natural than at any time since the American Revolution. This fascinating natural history is essential background for anyone interested in New England's ecology, wildlife, or landscape.

In New England Forests through Time these historical and environmental lessons are told through the world-renowned dioramas in Harvard's Fisher Museum. These remarkable models have introduced New England's landscape to countless visitors and have appeared in many ecology, forestry, and natural history texts. This first book based on the dioramas conveys the phenomenal history of the land, the beauty of the models, and new insights into nature.


  • Eighty years ago, before virtual reality, before cinematic fantasies, Richard T. Fisher, then director of the Harvard Forest, and Ernest Stillman, a philanthropist, created a state-of-the-art display to try to explain the changes that occurred in New England over time. This book is both a historical document, giving a sense of how the science of forestry some 75 years ago understood the extent of man's impact on the environment, and a scientific synopsis of our current understanding of the ecological effects of agriculture and urbanization.

    —Chicago Botanic Garden, Current Books


  • David R. Foster is Director of the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, and teaches ecology at Harvard University.
  • John F. O’Keefe is the Coordinator of Harvard University’s Fisher Museum of Forestry.

Book Details

  • 80 pages
  • 10 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Forest

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