If Trees Could Talk

From Forest to Farm and Back Again

ITCT Home > Table of Contents  > Activity 2 > Answer Key

Teacher's Answer Key

Worksheet 1: Keywords

Algonquin
1.The native Americans living in the area were a group of Algonquin-speaking people referred to as the Nipmuc.
2. The language group of many northeastern Native Americans.

Land Use
1. In 1771, an inventory of the land use in Petersham reported 845 acres of livestock pasture, 443 acres of crop tillage, 958 acres of upland mowing, and 256 acres of meadow.
2. The ways land is used by its inhabitants.

Forest Succession
1. It is estimated that at least half of the open land went out of farming by 1870 and the process of forest succession began to reclaim the land.
2. The pattern of change in the composition of plant species over time.

Silviculture
1. By 1914, the Harvard Research Forest became a year-round headquarters for teachers and graduate students studying silviculture and forest management.
2.  The science of growing and harvesting trees.

 

Worksheet 2: Essay Analysis

1. Create a pie chart, contrasting the amount of cleared land (and pasture) to forest for the years 1675, 1750, and 1850.

1700 - 72% forest 28% cleared
1740 - 53% forest 47% cleared
1850 - 35% forest 65% cleared 

2. How many people /km2 were present in central Massachusetts in 1700?
About 3 people per square kilometer
How was the landscape being manipulated by the Native American people in 1675? 
The Nipmuc cleared small patches of land in the village they called Nichewaug for  Indian corn, squash, beans, and tobacco. They also burned regularly to clear large swaths of the forest to improve habitat for game animals. They harvested all the materials to build their homes, transportation, and housewares from the trees in the forests.

3. How many people / km2 were present in central Massachusetts in 1740? 
About 5 people per square kilometer
How was the landscape being manipulated by the subsistence farmers in 1740? 
Land was cleared for pasture, crop tillage,  upland mowing, and meadow.

4. How many people / km2 were present in central Massachusetts in 1850? 
22 people per square kilometer
How was the landscape being manipulated by the lumber merchants in 1850?
Old growth forest was cleared to make way for dense plantations of second growth white pine.  

Worksheet 3: Historical Record Analysis

1. What eye witness evidence does this history give about Native American management of the landscape?
"Nichewaug Hill, so called by the natives, whereon, as in some other parts of the town, they had formerly planted fields of Indian corn, of which there remained evident traces when the first English settlers began there."

2. What eye witness evidence does this history give about the use of timber for shelter in 1793?  "The houses are large and well finished, standing on either side of the street".

3. What eye witness evidence does this history give about the types of trees that were planted by the settlers?  The land in this place is exceedingly favorable to the growth of all kinds of fruit trees, being high and warm; and here are large and excellent orchards.  What drink were farmers able to provide to both residents and neighboring towns? Much cyder is made here, beyond what the inhabitants consume; but they find a ready market for the surplus in the newer settlements.

4. What eye witness evidence does this history give about the amounts and types of crops grown on the land in 1793?  The soil is rich and fertile, and the lands bear all kinds of grain, but most natural to grass and pasturage, and from the appearance and face of the town, we must judge the inhabitants to be industrious and wealthy, who subsist mainly by the cultivation of the earth.

5. What eye witness evidence does this history give about the industries in Petersham in 1793? On each of [the streams] there are both corn and saw mills, and clothiers' works; and by the sides of both there are considerable bodies of good meadow land. Here are works for making pot and pearl ash, where much business is profitably carried on, and many persons employed.

6. Describe the scene in each diorama.
1700: Dense old growth forest of red maple, beech, birch, red spruce, balsam fir.
1740: A subsistence farm with saw-log house and barn, livestock, pasture, stone walls, forest on hills in background.
1850: A farm, once prosperous with all forest in sight cleared, row crops and orchard, a brick house and big barn, now abandoned.

 

Worksheet 4: Analyzing Historical Maps

1. How many people lived in Petersham in 1765?   700 People

2. If we use the 1765 population density map and the 1771 inventory, we can estimate roughly how many acres of forest must have been cleared to meet the needs of one person in Petersham in the 1768.  What is your estimate? 3.5 acres/person

3. How many people lived in Petersham in 1831? 1700

4. If the ratio of people to cleared land was the same in 1831 as it was in 1768, how many acres of forest would have been cleared in 1831? 
1700 people * 3.5 acres/person = 5950 acres

5.  The 1771 inventory stated that the total of pasture, tillage, mowing and meadow was 2,502 acres or 12% of the town.  What was the total acreage of the town?  
 total acres = 2502 * 100 / 12 = 20,850 acres

6. Based upon your answers to # 4 & #5 above, what percentage of the town would have been cleared in 1831?
5950 / 20,850 = 28%

7. Does this percentage match the map depicted in Figure 4?  Why or why not? 
No, because settlers had to clear land to grow more produce for market and used more wood for industry. 

Worksheet 5: Analyzing a Diagram

1. List the species present on a site three years after abandonment. Blackberries, sumacs and other shrubs

2. Which species competes most successfully on an abandoned Massachusetts agricultural site for the first 80 years? White Pine

3. What conditions favor the sprouting of trees like beech, maple and oak? Moist soil and enough shade to suppress pine seedlings.

4. In which stage do you think Harvard Forest would have been in 1903 when the research forest was created?  Stage 4. 

5. What stage would it be in now?  Stage 6.

 

Assessment 1: Test


1. Which diorama depicts the forest in 1700?   
Diorama C
2. How many people / km2 living on the land in 1700?
 about 3 people
3. How did they manage the forests? Burning the understory and clearing small patches of land for agriculture.
4. What products and services were derived from the landscape? Materials for food, clothes, housing, and tools
5. What technologies did they have to do this work?  Stone tools and fire.
6. Which diorama depicts the forest  in 1740? Diorama B
7. How many people / km2 were living on the land in 1740? about 5 people
8. How did they manage the forests? Clearing for pasture, tilage, mowing, meadow. 
9. What products and services were derived from the landscape? Materials for housing and tools.
10. What technologies did they have to do this work? Fire, forged iron tools and oxen.
11. Which diorama depicts the forest in 1850? Diorama A
12. How many people / km2 were living on the land in 1850? 20
13. How did they manage the forests? Clearing forests to create surplus livestock and row crops.
14.What products and services were derived from the landscape?  Surplus livestock and produce to sell for profit. 
15. What technologies did they have to do this work? Fire, forged iron tools, oxen and a network of roads. 
16. What evidence of European environmental values is visible in the dioramas?  Intensive row crops and raising livestock were European land use patterns new to the Americas
17.  What was the impact of the American Revolution on the goal of New England farmers?
They switched from subsistence farming to mercantile farming -- growing a surplus to sell at local markets and increase their personal wealth.
18. What was the impact of westward expansion on communities in the East between 1801 and 1861?  Agriculture shipped by train from farms in the Midwest put the rural eastern farmers with only wagons for hauling out of business.

  From Forest to Farm and Back Again I, II, III / Worksheet 1 / Worksheet 2 / History of Petersham / Worksheet 3 / Population Density Maps / Worksheet 4 / Forest Succession Diagram /
Worksheet 5
/ Application and Integration/ Test / Reflective Exercise /