Edge habitat

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Mon Jun 28 05:26:52 EDT 1999

The great Maine Trust compromise may be an important general lesson in 
habitat management for multiple use and maintaining diversity. 

Those of us with an interest in landscape are envious to have such a 
planning opportunity.  I personally favor a forever wild approach, but 
it's potential is not universally appealing, I understand.

I would say the decisions should be influenced by the surrounding 
region, but even this is open to controversy.  Some would say that the 
land should match the surrounding region while others might say it 
should provide habitat that is lacking in the surrounding region. 

It wasn't clear what was magical about 1938 as a target year for habitat 
restoration.  What about 1838?   

[Although I am not particularly an enthusiast for dairy farms, it is 
even possible that some cows would have a beneficial effect in 
maintaining open habitat.  The painful lesson of cow removal was learned 
most clearly at Paloverde, Costa Rica, home of a huge lagoon---one of 
the foremost waterfowl habitats in Central America.  Within a few years 
after the cows were removed, cattails had completely choked the lagoon 
and "ruined" its value as a waterfowl stopover.  Once the cattails were 
mature, reintroducing cows was ineffective (they like tender shoots, I 
understand). ]

On the other hand if your area of Maine still has lots of forest, then 
protecting early successional stages may indeed be more important.  This 
is particularly true if openings that were formerly created by fire are 
now scarce because of fire suppression. 

In New Jersey,where we have a lot of experince with habitat degradation, 
it is clearly grassland, pasture, and old fields that are in short 
supply (We have the same amount of forest land now as 100 years ago; 
though not necessarily the same quality).  Many town planning boards 
resist having woodlots converted to housing developments but have no 
qualms about building on former farm land.  Try to convince someone that 
an old field with brambles is worth saving. 

I know that our historical land trust owns several old properties 
(1700's, 1800's) where old houses are rented out to occupants who serve 
a dual role of providing income to the trust and keeping an eye on 

Good luck.  Michael Gochfeld

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