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A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

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Photo: Harold Lee “The oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.” Aldo Leopold 2

Photo: Algonquin Museum INTRODUCTION Prior to European settlement, forests spread nearly continuously across eastern North America and consisted of a patchwork of large tracts of mature forests interspersed with patches of forest at different ages or successional stages. These forests were dynamic environments which depended on frequent small scale and infrequent large scale disturbances for regeneration, such as: ice storms, windstorms, insects, disease, and fire. These natural disturbances worked to maintain a variety of forest stand structures and ages across the landscape. Where large-scale forest fires and wind storms periodically destroyed huge patches of forest, they created big openings to be regenerated by succession; starting with the growth of sun-loving fast growing plants (such as poplars or grasses) and progressing slowly over many decades toward trees tolerant of shade (see Forest Succession — Part 1 page 4). From the mid 1700s to early 1900s much of the forest of southern Ontario was cleared by settlers for agriculture, roads, and town development. Early practices such as the use of fire, grazing by cattle and other livestock in the woodlands, and the harvesting of the most valuable trees had an effect on the remaining woodlands. Later in the 20th century, forest fire suppression, devastating exotic tree diseases (e.g., chestnut blight, Dutch elm disease), and the continued use of heavy partial harvesting methods further changed the face of the landscape. Forest fragments — Photo: Scott Gillingwater Introduction 3

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