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Forest Analogs


Analog forestry references the local regional natural plant community or forest type. The natural plant community can provide an ecological model for growing useful (food, fodder, medicine, fuel, etc.) perennial agricultural ecosystems. Variety selection and experimenting with planting analogs of the indigenous forest plants are strategies for creating a regenerative system while producing a diverse yield. The work of Mark Shepard and Dave Jacke speak to this strategy. I am intrigued but I have not even scratched the surface of the topic. I started with a search to find what type of forest was present on our land before the forest was cut down for lumber and agriculture. This is what I found.

From the reference: Pennsylvania Trees from the Pennsylvania Department of Forestry from 1923: “Oak-Hickory type comprises more different kinds of trees than any other forest type found in PA. It is common in Chester county. Irregular in outline. Usually, in lower elevations but some if its arm-like extensions reach far into the mountain valleys.” Principle members of this forest type: White Oak Black Oak Red oak Scarlet Oak Bur Oak Shagbark Hickory Mockernut Hickory Pignut Hickory Black Walnut Red Mulberry Sassafras Hackberry Red Cedar

From the DCNR website: “Oak forests dominate the southern two-thirds of the state. Oak forests include red oak-mixed hardwood type on lower slopes where red and white oaks occur mixed with tuliptree, red maple, and hickories. On drier upper slopes and ridge tops throughout the central Pennsylvania, oak forests dominated by white, black, and chestnut oak are common. These forests often have a dense layer of shrubs such as mountain laurel and black huckleberry. Before 1910, American chestnut was an important component of Pennsylvania’s dry oak forests, but the accidental introduction of chestnut blight in New York City in 1904 resulted in chestnut’s shift from widespread canopy dominant to minor status within just a few decades.”

I am putting this information into a Google Drive spreadsheet to assist in selecting plantings in the future. So far, we have identified Red Oak, White Oak, Sassafras, Hickory (? variety), Mulberry (? variety), Black Walnut, Tulip Poplar, and Chestnut (? variety) on the land. Artie planted out the woodlot with the oaks, poplar, and black walnut in addition to conifers with the help of a conservation service some 30+ years ago.

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