The Lost Forests of New England: Eastern Old Growth

Published 2018-03-15
The story of New England's ancient, old growth forests... what they once were, what changes have taken place across central New England since European settlers arrived, and what our remnant old growth stands look like today.

Features appearances by:

David Foster, David Orwig, Neil Pederson (Harvard Forest)
Tony D'Amato (University of Vermont)
Tom Wessels (Antioch University New England)
Peter Dunwiddie (University of Washington)
Bob Leverett (Native Tree Society)
Joan Maloof (Old Growth Forest Network).

See companion blog at

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All Comments (21)
  • I live in Northern Maine and our land has been in the family for 100+ years. Untouched and has sooooo many beautiful super old different types of tree's. We actually own many acres on the backside of Haystack Mountain. A number of acres were sold off by my father about 20 or so years ago, but thankfully the people just cleared enough land to put their house on. My son and I spend alot of time out at camp snowshoieng, camping, winter camping in the tents, and just playing around in the woods. We love it
  • @Ujvi89721
    Man, I love trees! I really wish to visit these old growth forests once in my life.
  • @la7era1u54
    Growing up, I spent nearly all my time in a forest like this in western Maine. If I wasn't in school, I was in the woods. I miss everything about it, the sounds, the smell, even the feel of the forest floor. It has always been perfection to me and very spiritual. I loved to just sit and enjoy the peaceful calm
  • @antiNuetron
    Very interesting. I live in Maine and once in a while I'll come across a single big old tree in the forest.
  • @davidrn2473
    In 1973 I was working at a high adventure summer camp, I taught climbing and the last week (of 3 weeks) was a backpacking trip. I took my group, and we met up with another group in the Presidential range of the White Mountains. The other leader had spent years in those woods, we were hiking along, and he stopped us, thought for 4 or 5 minutes, then said, lets go up this side trail. We were well off the beaten path, and I was surprised on why he wanted to go in that direction. We stopped at a hill side and there was a Birch tree that was big enough around that 3 of us were required to reach around that tree. It was an old growth Birch, but unable to be cut down a hundred + years ago (when all these areas were clear cut for hay) because of the steep hillside. Still remember that tree, never could find it again, if it is still there.
  • As a kid i grew up on a mountain top in Vermont. Had several areas of forests that I use to play in as a kid that were old growth. let me tell you...there is something very primal, eldritch about an old growth forest. You spend enough time in one, and you start to feel like you, a human, doesnt belong in that forest. Its a very strange and unnerving feeling.
  • @Jayamidon
    I hang out in a 120 year old forest that won’t be touched because it’s a fish hatchery in the Berkshires. It’s truly a healing sanctuary.
  • At one point in the 1990's, I bought an Audobon book on trees. It had profiles of all the different trees. Eventually, I came to realize that all the printed profiles of the trees in the book were only of very immature trees, all the truly aged ones being long gone. And as a side note, there exists outside of Philadelphia a state forestry building in the middle of suburbia. On the wall is a cross-section sample of a mature white pine that is eight feet in diameter.
  • @patdud
    Just took a hike up Mt Sunapee in new hampshire and at about 2200 ft you enter an old growth area of Red/Black Spruce and Balsam Fir. Its incredible to walk through these old forests because they just feel so natural and wild. the temperature drops like 10 degrees too, its amazing to see.
  • Something so warm and comforting in a forest like that. Makes you want to snuggle up in a bed of leaves there and really relax. Its so comforting.
  • At 68 years i can tell many stories of old growth i encountered as a child who wandered the woodlands daily . In my front forested yard alone i had black walnut , hazelnut, and towering white pines as far as one could see. The quail, pheasant, red fox, and many other species were so abundant. Under one big pine grove i counted nearly 40 quail one day feeding. The wild blueberries filled our little pails and jack-in -the pulpit was always a favorite find. When i came upon a stand of chestnut or beech , my heart filled with 4 year old wonder. There i would lay with my black shepherd yogi and sleep away. Yes, i worried my mother terribly. Beech nuts are delicious.
  • Me being an old NH boy, my family came to Dover, NH, in 1635. They were sawyers from the get go. I'm the 15th or 16th generation to be here. I'm also a wood worker. The house I grew up in, was at one time a sugaring business, back in the day. We had sugar maples with 40 inch trunks, all over the property.
  • @MaineOffGrid.
    There are some old growth pines in Norway Maine. The Ordway Grove. Massive, massive pine trees.
  • @joeisslow1638
    I lived in the Berkshires for 20+ years, I lived literally 3 minutes from one of the places in this video, Campbell's falls. Massive old growth hemlock are in that area. It is majestic to be in a forest that you know is so old !!
  • @arielphf
    Omg, old home week! I was a graduate student in Forestry at UMass in the late 80's under Bill Patterson and the names of the interviewees and images (that Harvard diorama!) in this piece kept pricking my memory circuits! Then Peter Dunwittie came on and he was the burn boss on a prescribed fire we did on Martha's Vineyard ('88, I think). Too cool! I went on to work as a forester in central PA and have documented a couple of old growth remnants in Centre County. I'd love it if someone did a project like this in PA. Thank you! I am really enjoying the program.
  • There is indeed some amazing old growth in Harvard, MA and it’s surrounding towns of Bolton, Berlin, Lancaster etc. Spent much of my twenties getting lost in that vast web of trails and other conservation lands. So well kept and preserved by people who are committed to fighting this most noble fight. Here is my little salute to them!
  • @blakespower
    this was a great documentary, and this is what documentaries used to be about Science and nature
  • @GinaBurlingham
    Old grown forrests are sacred and must be reverred and protected.