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The pre-European settlement forest composition of the Miramichi River watershed, New Brunswick, as reconstructed using witness trees from original land surveys

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The goal of this investigation was to characterize the pre-European settlement forest composition of the Miramichi River watershed using witness trees to contribute to the definition of a baseline for assessing changes over time in the Acadian forest. The witness tree data were stratified by ecoregion and by ecosite, for the portions of the watershed that are in the Northern Uplands, Continental Lowlands, and Eastern Lowlands ecoregions of New Brunswick, as well as by riparian and inland forest; and pre-settlement forest composition (1787–1847) was compared with current forest composition (1998–2000). The witness tree data constitute evidence that a distinctive riparian forest existed before European settlement and that the difference between riparian and inland forest has lessened. They show that the proportions of Betula spp., Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière, Ulmus americana L., and Thuja occidentalis L. have decreased; that the proportion of Acer spp. has increased and that Picea spp. and Abies balsamea (L.) Mill. var. balsamea have maintained their overall dominance of the forest in number of individuals, and have increased it on at least 50% of the watershed area.

L’objectif de cette étude consistait à caractériser la composition de la forêt du bassin de la rivière Miramichi antérieure à l’arrivée des colons européens à l’aide d’arbres témoins, dans le but de contribuer à définir des conditions de base pour évaluer les changements temporels dans la forêt acadienne. Les données sur les arbres témoins ont été stratifiées par écorégion et par écosite pour les sections du bassin situées dans les écorégions du bas-plateau du Nord, des basses terres continentales et des basses terres de l’Est du Nouveau-Brunswick, ainsi que par forêt intérieure et forêt riveraine. La composition de la forêt antérieure à la colonisation (1787–1847) a été comparée à la composition actuelle de la forêt (1998–2000). Les données sur les arbres témoins indiquent qu’une forêt riveraine distincte existait antérieurement à la colonisation par les européens et que la différence entre les forêts riveraine et intérieure s’est atténuée. Ils montrent que les proportions de Betula spp., Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière, Ulmus americana L. et Thuja occidentalis L. ont diminué, que la proportion d’Acer spp. a augmenté et que Picea spp. et Abies balsamea (L.) Mill. var. balsamea ont maintenu leur dominance sur la forêt en nombre d’individus et l’ont augmenté sur au moins 50% de la superficie du bassin.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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