Land use legacies and the future of Southern Appalachia

Ted L. Gragson, Paul V. Bolstad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Southern Appalachian forests have apparently recovered from extractive land use practices during the 19th and 20th centuries, yet the legacy of this use endures in terrestrial and aquatic systems of the region. The focus on shallow time or the telling of stories about the past circumscribes the ability to anticipate the most likely outcomes of the trajectory of change forecast for the Southeast as the "Old South" continues its transformation into the "New South." We review land use research of the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project that addresses the nature and extent of past and present human land use, how land use has affected the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic communities, and the forces guiding the anticipated trajectory of change. Unlike development in the western or northeastern regions of the United States, the southeastern region has few practical, political, or geographical boundaries to the urban sprawl that is now developing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-190
Number of pages16
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under cooperative agreements DEB-9632854 and DEB-0218001. We appreciate the thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this article by three anonymous reviewers who challenged us to make substantive revisions to produce the final version. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Aquatic communities
  • Land use
  • Land-use decision making
  • Legacy
  • Reforestation
  • Southern Appalachia
  • Terrestrial communities
  • Urban sprawl

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