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Forest Variation: Witness Trees

Ecology Research > Forest Variation and Change in Redding > Witness Trees

When the first settlers established Redding and other eastern seaboard towns, they divided the land into individual lots using prominent trees ("witness trees") as boundary markers, which they described in original land deeds. By gathering the references to these trees from town archives, one can obtain a reasonably objective sample of the forest composition at the time of European settlement. The dominant tree species of Redding's 18th century forest include white oak and chestnut and are similar to many other southern New England towns. Today, red maple and black birch have become new dominant trees. Highstead collaborates with archaeologist, Stuart Reeve, and researchers from the Harvard Forest on this project.

 

Witness Tree