Forested areas in the United States have been altered since the time of European settlement. For this reason, research interests have increased in comparing present day vegetation with that of the preEuroamerican era to see what changes, if any, have occurred in some of our more outstanding natural areas. Such studies have been conducted in other parts of the United States but limited research has been done in Arkansas. The General Land Office (GLO) surveys of Arkansas were originally conducted between approximately 1815 and 1850 shortly after Arkansas was acquired from France by means of the Louisiana Purchase and provides the only systematic on-ground survey in Arkansas that predates most formal botanical investigations. The GLO surveys used witness trees to define the location of section corners and lines. Descriptions of witness trees included tree species and diameter along with distance and direction to the section corner or line. This historical GLO data was compared to United States Forest Service (USFS) Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data, which represent present vegetation conditions for 62 townships in the Buffalo River Sub-basin. Comparisons indicated that eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) increased from 0.7% to 7.8% of the total forest species in the sub-basin, hickory (Carya spp.) increased from 8.2% to 14.3%, while oak (Quercus spp.) species decreased from 43.0% to 30.1%. Based on this study it appears that postEuroamerican settlement fire suppression and agricultural practices in addition to other human activities has caused vegetation changes in this area.
Weih, Robert C. Jr. and Dick, A.
"Historical Forest Landscape Changes in the Buffalo River Sub-Basin in Arkansas,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 62
, Article 18.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol62/iss1/18