Sunday, December 2, 2012

Geography 5 Final

Temperate Deciduous Forest of New England:

The Temperate Deciduous Forest biome drastically varies season to season, but the one consistency is its beauty, no matter where it is. This biome occurs all over the world, specifically it mostly occurs in Western Europe, China, Japan, Australia, Southern Chile and Eastern North America (1). The Temperate Deciduous Forest is extremely famous in New England, which consists of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Map indicating where the Temperate Deciduous Forest occurs.

The Temperate Deciduous Forest has four distinct seasons: summer, fall, winter & spring.  The biome receives between 30-60 inches of precipitation year round (2.) The leaves on all deciduous trees fall off before winter. Thus, the Temperate Deciduous Forest does the same. Every year before winter, the leaves change to beautiful colors (due to loss of green chlorophyll) and then shed them (2). The trees continue to stay bare throughout the winter and then re-blossom in the spring. Also, a broad array of trees, plants, and animals exist in the biome and they all have adaptations for each season.

Below is a video showing a tree undergoing the changes that occur during the four seasons.



Historically, the Temperate Deciduous Forest was thriving until about the 1700s when settlers first started populating New England (3). By the 19th century, states in New England which were originally almost completely forested, had lost about 80% if its forest due to the increase in agriculture (4). It started in the 1700’s with the Indians clearing and burning the forest for villages and hunting. By the 1800’s more European settlement had taken place and with a more rapid rate of deforestation, the forest became a more rural place (3). Fortunately from about 1850-1950, the rate of farming decreased throughout New England, allowing for the forests to grow back. But after that time period, the forest started to diminish little by little again (3.)

Deforestation occurred as settlers turned the forest into farm land.

There was a time when forests didn’t exist in New England but once forests did start to grow – they grew at a rapid rate and completely took over New England. The Temperate Deciduous Forest looked slightly different back then than it does now. Thousands and even just hundreds of years ago, the forests were much denser and also contained trees that where thicker and larger. This density and thickness allowed the forest to return moisture back to the air by catching the rain and efficiently using the soil and its roots. Thus, before settlement there was little erosion due to the natural hydrology system. Once settlers changed this, more rivers were made because of interruption to the natural system, which caused water erosion (3).

Overview (Benefits, protected areas, status):
Today, New England is more than ¾ forested and three of the states are in the top four most forested states in the country (5). Although there is a lot of forest, currently in North America and Europe together, less than 1% of the Temperate Deciduous Forest is left untouched (4). This is due to the highly developed areas the forest resides in, like New England.  The area is so developed because the Temperate Deciduous Forest creates many benefits to humans. Not only does it bring in money due to tourism, jobs, recreation, etc., but it also aids in healthy drinking water and air quality. Many major rivers are throughout New England, so the 33 million acres of forest helps protect the water so it can be quality drinking water. The forest also absorbs a large amount of carbon making it able to maintain quality air (5). Thus many people are working hard to conserve the forest. Fortunately there are quite a few protected areas throughout New England that protect millions and millions of acres.

New England fall foliage attracts a large number of tourists each year!

Tourists also come for hiking and the scenic views of the forest.

Human Impacts:
Urbanization: Development is the largest threat to the Temperate Deciduous Forest because of it’s result; deforestation. (1). In 2010, New England had just under 14.5 million people populating the small six states (6), thus the dense population (that’s continuing to grow) is affecting the amount of natural forest left.

This chart shows that population is increasing steadily and that less and less forest acres are available per person. Thus development is a huge threat to the forests in New England.

Agriculture:  The rich soil in this biome creates the ideal place for agriculture (1). Thousands and thousands of trees have to be cut down in order to create farms but due to the great soil, agriculture just can’t be passed up.

Logging: As mentioned, humans are clearing and cutting the forest down for non-forest uses. It creates strain because the trees in this forest tend to very slow (1).

Coal Burning: Due to the high amount of energy needed, a substantial amount of coal burning is currently happening. This and other pollutants create acid rain, which is killing trees and plants (1).

Coal burning and other pollutants release acidic gasses which are then dissolved in rainwater, making acid rain.

Conservation Status: 
Good (7).
Although deforestation is an extreme problem in New England, the amount of protected land and conservation efforts allow the Temperate Deciduous Forest to remain in good shape.

As population grows and more development of New England takes place, the forest may potentially deplete more and more with each passing day. Although many conservation efforts are taking place, there will always be significant threats to the forest.

Threats like overpopulation of deer, increased pollution and climate change will affect the Temperate Deciduous Forest in the future, as well as many other threats. Climate will play a large role in forest growth by increasing carbon dioxide and temperature, as well as changing the amount of precipitation (8). This climate change, known as global warming will change the Temperate Deciduous Forest.

A man taps for the infamous New England maple syrup.
With global warming, the distribution of the forest is predicted to change and shift 300 miles north; meaning much of New England will be sparse (9). Currently New England is made up of 21% oak trees but it will be 60% oak trees by the 22nd century (10). Maple trees will become rare in New England with the climate change, decreasing the amount of iconic maple syrup produced. Droughts and forest fires will be on the rise and ground-level ozone formation will harm the forest, creating poor air quality. Also any current threats may become more significant as they pair up with the threat of climate change (9).

Although the conservation status of the Temperate Deciduous Forest is good, the future is unknown and people must act now. Population growth and urbanization will continue, meaning more logging will take place. This is inevitable but New England can take a stand by protecting more land through more national and state parks.
People can also plant more trees to make up for some of the loss. This may be a very minimal way to help conserve the forest, but if laws are made to monitor the amount of logging and clear cutting, it may just make a difference.

A major way to help conserve the forest is to start using more green and alternative energy or by cutting down on use of things like electricity. Then less fossil fuels will have to be burned, which also means less pollution and less acid rain. This will allow the forest to flourish.

Those that are already making conservation efforts are ahead of the game, but many New Englander’s also need to start helping by following or looking into a few of these suggestions.



The Temperate Deciduous Forest (especially in New England) is a beautiful forest that dramatically changes with each season. However, humans are negatively impacting it through urbanization, logging, agriculture and pollution (1). In order to conserve the Temperate Deciduous Forest – we all must pitch in and replenish the forest, as well keep deforestation low. Efforts of this sort will save the forest that many, including myself, call home.

Works Cited:
1. Marritta College. "The Temperate Deciduous Forest." Marietta College. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
2.  Missouri Botanical Garden. "Temperate Deciduous Forest." MBGnet. 2002. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
3. "Landscape History of Central New England." Harvard Forest. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
4. Reich, Peter B., Lee Frelich, and Josep G. Canadell, Dr. "Temperate Deciduous Forests." Ed. Harold A. Mooney, Professor. Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
5. "A Policy Agenda for Conserving New England’s Forests." The Nature Conservancy. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
6. US Bureau of the Census. "New England Census Population." RI Department of Labor and Training. 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
7. Gillespie, Thomas W., Dr. "Temperate Ecosystems." Geology 5. UCLA, Los Angeles. 2 Oct. 2012. Lecture.
8. "Forests Impacts & Adaptation." United States Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
9. Climate Change AnfdThe Northern Forest." Clean Air Cool Planet. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
10. Tang, Gouping, Brian Beckage, and Benjamin Smith. "The Potential Transient Dynamics of Forests in New England under Historical and Projected Future Climate Change." Climatic Change 114.2 (2012): 357. Web. 24 Nov. 2012.