State of Mid-Atlantic region forests in 2000
Wet and warm climate, mountainous topography, and deep rich soils produced one of the most magnificent and diverse temperate forests in the world. In 1650 the Mid-Atlantic forests covered 95 percent of the region, but were greatly reduced in 1900 by extensive tree harvesting, and conversion to farms and pastures. Settlement of forests also led to severe wildfires, soil erosion, and destruction of wildlife. Recovery began in the early 1900s, and later improvements in agricultural allowed millions of acres to return to forest cover. Suppression of catastrophic wildfires reduced flooding and watershed degradation, and wildlife management returned native animal and fish populations. Forest management improvements led again to productive and diverse forests in more mature stages of development. By the end of the 20th century, the Mid-Atlantic forests covered 61 percent of the land area and produced numerous products that brought social and economic benefits to people. Continuing pressures from urbanization and fragmentation; selective species harvests; air pollution; exotic invasive species; wildlife habitat loss; historic fire regime changes; stream degradation; and climate change still affect and threaten these forests, and require enlightened management and policy decisions to ensure sustainability of healthy, diverse, and productive forests.