Rewild Appalachia June 29, 2018 10:05

Rewild Appalachia

History of Southern Appalachia

Megafauna- Mastodon, Giant sloth, Giant bison, Tapirs, Lions, Giant tortoise, Giant Armadillos.  ~40 million years, extinction ~10k years ago . A drawn timeline would be 300' of megafauna presence followed by 1" of absence.


Humans hunted/followed megafauna.  Developed management strategies to replicate megafauna disturbance, mainly using fire to encourage and manage remaining large mammal herds (deer, elk, bison)



Agriculture- ~4k years ago maize culture overtook horticulturalism, leading to more sedentary cultures.


Pre-colonial extensive human habitats were a mosaic of grasslands, forests, canebrakes developed


Colonialism- widespread disease and genocide of indigenous peoples, flora, and fauna led to breakdown of disturbance regimes.  Extensive swine management throughout 1800s in Southern Appalachia.


Development of industrial agriculture continues to erode millions of years of accumulated fertility and diversity. Current dynamic is liberal abuse and conservative neglect.


Old Europe

Dehesa/Montada- estimated 6k year old system of integrating livestock management into tended savannahs.  Most prominent system is pruned/thinned oaks used to fatten hogs.



Avellana- after glacial recession most of Europe was colonized by hazel, possibly encouraged by humans.  Widespread evidence of hazelnut processing camps throughout Europe from ~9k years ago, until ~1k years ago when civilization forced humans out of the forest, into the fields.


Corsica- Island off Italy.  Inhabitants forced to plant chestnuts 500 years ago by mainland government.  Diversified use of the feral chestnut forests have led to a highly resilient economy that continues to resist conquest by outsiders.


Alnocultura- Integrated Alder coppice system developed in northern Italy to prevent degradation of soils from continuous grain production.  System died out in early 1900s due to shifts in land ownership.

Glorious Forest (demonstration site in madison county, NC)

Plant breeding/management- hazelnut, acorn, mulberry, walnut, hickory, perennial staples. Coppice establishement


Domestic animals- pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, turkeys.  Intensive management to renovate forest makeup, leaf hay.


Wild animals- Domestic animals and plant reintroductions used to alter forest for benefit of wild species.