William Cronon's Changes In The Land

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William Cronon’s Changes in the Land – Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England, depicts the changes that occurred in New England after the arrival of the Europeans. It not only provides a detailed account of the changes that took place from a historical point of view, but also from an ecological pint of view – meaning it not only paints a picture of how the European settlers changed the lives of New England’s Indian inhabitants, but it also clearly shows how the arrival of the Europeans forever changed the landscape of the ecosystem at the time. Cronon’s thesis, according to him, is simple: “the shift from Indian to European dominance in New England entailed important changes – well known to historians – in the way these peoples …show more content…
Born of both an agricultural need and for its merchantable value, many trees were cut down; thereby changing the edge environment. Due to the fact that trees were abundant in New England, European settlors did not understand, nor take seriously, the rules set by England’s rulers regarding the chopping down of trees. Timber in Europe was scarce, and in an effort to prevent that from repeating in America, they attempted to prevent wasteful cutting down of trees. New Englanders did not adhere to these rules. “New England lumbering used forests as if they would last forever” (Cronon, 111). While it’s easy to want to blame the lumberer for the destruction of trees in New England, it is more accurate to say that the farmer is to blame. Settlement required the removal of all trees in order to plant crops. Amongst various methods used by farmers to clear the land of trees, they also borrowed the method used by their Indian predecessors – fire. However, they used fire on a much larger, and haphazard scale sometimes resulting in the destruction of haystacks and houses. The early lumberers and farmers could not have known the ramifications of their efforts to clear land, however, the deforestation of the region had profound ecological effects. Cronon states “It was not, as some thought, that the weather itself was changed by clearing, but rather the way landscapes responded to the weather. If seasons were defined as much by an ecosystem’s cycle of biological rhythms as by the movement of winds and storms, then in one special but important sense destroying the forest changed the very seasons themselves” (Cronon 123). Interestingly enough, the colonists did not view their efforts as destructive; rather they viewed their efforts as progress in creating the old familiar world they knew in the new world they had come to

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