Article Title

The Past and Future of the White Pine Forest in the Great Lakes Region

Journal Title/Source

Geography Compass

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Document Type

Journal Article


Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences


Eastern white pine plays an important role in the Great Lakes ecosystems of the Upper Midwest. White pine forests were even more extensive two centuries ago before the logging industry, logging-related fires, subsequent fire suppression, and changing forest-management goals of Euro-American settlers profoundly altered the species composition and structure of the pine stands. Pine forests of the Great Lakes region have not recovered from the logging era because multiple factors have impeded the successful establishment of pine seedlings and saplings. Herbivores, diseases, insect pests, fire suppression, and climate change affect the current distribution of white pine and will influence future management decisions. Efforts to rejuvenate the pine forests will be expensive, time consuming, labor intensive, and slow, so desired future conditions should be chosen carefully. White pine persists in the Lake States despite environmental and land-use changes, and it probably will continue to thrive on certain sites. With a better appreciation of the biophysical and human geography that help explain the dynamics of eastern white pine in the Lake States, we can decide how directly we wish to help the species adapt to the rapidly changing environment.

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