Preface: long-term response of a forest watershed ecosystem, clearcutting in the Southern Appalachians
Our North American forests are no longer the wild areas of past centuries; they are an economic and ecological resource undergoing changes from both natural and management disturbances. A watershed-scale and long-term perspective of forest ecosystem responses is requisite to understanding and predicting cause and effect relationships. This book synthesizes interdisciplinary studies conducted over thirty years, to evaluate responses of a clear-cut, cable-logged watershed at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in the Nantahala Mountain Range of western North Carolina. This research was the result of collaboration among Forest Service and university researchers on the most studied watershed in the Lab's 78-year history. During the experiment, a variety of natural disturbances occurred: two record floods, two record droughts, a major hurricane, a blizzard of the century, major forest diseases, and insect infestations. These disturbances provided a unique opportunity to study how they altered the recovery of the forest ecosystem. This book also shows that some long-term forest trends cannot be forecast from short-term findings, which could lead to incorrect conclusions of cause and effect relationships and natural resource management decisions.
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