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Harvard Forest Data Archive


Forest Change and Human Populations in New England 1600-2015

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  • Lead: David Foster, Ernest Gould, Brian Hall
  • Investigators:
  • Contact: Information Manager
  • Start date: 1600
  • End date: 2015
  • Status: complete
  • Location: New England
  • Latitude: +40.5 to +47.5 degrees
  • Longitude: -74.3 to -66.9 degrees
  • Elevation: 0 to 1900 meter
  • Datum: WGS84
  • Taxa:
  • Release date: 2023
  • Language: English
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.13.20
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • EDI: data package
  • DataONE: data package
  • Related links:
  • Study type: long-term measurement, historical
  • Research topic: conservation and management; historical and retrospective studies; regional studies
  • LTER core area: disturbance patterns, human-environment interactions, land use and land cover change
  • Keywords: humans, land use, populations, vegetation dynamics
  • Abstract:

    As part of retrospective studies of land-use across New England, information was compiled on forest cover and human population for the New England states. The states share a common history of deforestation for agriculture followed by farm abandonment and natural reforestation with the exception of northern Maine, which was never densely settled and largely remained forested. The extent to which these secondary forests differ in structure and function from permanently wooded areas or the forests of the pre-settlement period forms a major research emphasis of Harvard Forest studies.

  • Methods:

    Data were compiled by E. Gould, D.R. Foster, and Brian Hall. Population data are from the U.S. Census; forest cover data are from Baldwin (1942), and United States Forest Service reports. See Detailed Metadata section below for specific forest acreage sources

    Harvard Forest researchers have used the following total acres for the region in the Wildlands and Woodlands reports: CT - 3,181,474; MA - 5,179,328; ME - 20,845,028; NH - 5,941,024; RI - 690,129; VT - 6,154,039; New England - 41,991,023

  • Organization: Harvard Forest. 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366, USA. Phone (978) 724-3302. Fax (978) 724-3595.

  • Project: The Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program examines ecological dynamics in the New England region resulting from natural disturbances, environmental change, and human impacts. (ROR).

  • Funding: National Science Foundation LTER grants: DEB-8811764, DEB-9411975, DEB-0080592, DEB-0620443, DEB-1237491, DEB-1832210.

  • Use: This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (No Rights Reserved). Please keep the dataset creators informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset should include proper acknowledgement.

  • License: Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal (CC0-1.0)

  • Citation: Foster D, Gould E, Hall B. 2023. Forest Change and Human Populations in New England 1600-2015. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF013 (v.20). Environmental Data Initiative:

Detailed Metadata

hf013-01: forest area

  1. year: year
  2. source: source
    • 1: Baldwin, H. I. 1942. Forestry in New England. National Resources Planning Board Publication 70, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 2: U.S. Forest Service Reappraisal Project figures
    • 3: USFS. 1958. Timber resources for America’s future. USFS USDA Forest Resource Report no. 14
    • 4: USFS. 1965. Timber trends in the United States. USFS USDA Forest Resource Report No. 17
    • 5: USFS. 1973. The outlook for timber in the United States. USFS USDA Forest Resource Report No. 20
    • 6: USFS. 1990. New England’s forests. USFS USDA Northeastern Forest Experiment Station NE-INF-91-90
    • 7: USFS Northeastern Research Station FIA Website, March 2003. Date listed as 1998; actual FIA inventory for each state: CT, 1998; MA, 1998; ME, 1995; NH, 1997; RI, 1998; VT, 1997
    • 8: USFS Northern Research Station FIA Website, November 2008.
    • 9: USFS Northern Research Station FIA Website, August 2015.
    • 10: USFS Northern Research Station FIA Website, July 2016.
  3. ct: forest area in acres for Connecticut (unit: acre / missing value: NA)
  4. ma: forest area in acres for Massachusetts (unit: acre / missing value: NA)
  5. me: forest area in acres for Maine (unit: acre / missing value: NA)
  6. nh: forest area in acres for New Hampshire (unit: acre / missing value: NA)
  7. ri: forest area in acres for Rhode Island (unit: acre / missing value: NA)
  8. vt: forest area in acres for Vermont (unit: acre / missing value: NA)
  9. ne: forest area in acres for New England (unit: acre / missing value: NA)
  10. note: notes on data sources for specific years

hf013-02: human population

  1. year: year Every 10 years for 1770-2000 and every 20 years for 1630-1750
  2. ct: human population in Connecticut (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  3. ma: human population in Massachusetts (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  4. me: human population in Maine (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  5. nh: human population in New Hampshire (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  6. ri: human population in Rhode Island (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  7. vt: human population in Vermont (unit: number / missing value: NA)

hf013-03: human population in New England

  1. year: year of the data
  2. new.eng.pop: human population in New England (unit: number / missing value: NA)