From Coastal Wilderness to Fruited Plain is an account of the making of a large part of the American landscape following European settlement. Drawing upon land survey records and early travelers' accounts, Dr Whitney reconstructs the 'virgin' forests and grasslands of the northeastern and central United States during the presettlement period. He then documents successively the clearance and fragmentation of the region's woodlands, the harvest of the forest and its game, the ploughing of the prairies, and the draining of wetlands. The degree to which these activities altered the soil, climate, plant and animal communities, and water cycle are evaluated, and the sustainability of present-day ecosystems is brought into question in this unique account.
'This is a magnificent work ... The book is so well done that I hesitate to mention any specific parts lest I neglect something ... This is a book that every physical geographer should read ... I predict this book will rapidly become a classic and only wish that other scholars would write equally good works on other areas of the world.' Stanley W. Trimble, Progress in Physical Geography 'Whitney's ecological history is scholarly, comprehensive, well written and interesting.' Conservation Biology 'Scholarship shines forth ... whether the interest is in North America, comparative regional studies or approaches to studying forest landscapes, this volume will be a source of insight, entertainment and academic inspiration.' Trends in Ecology and Evolution