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Persisting Natural Vegetation in Northern Queens County, New York, With Proposals for its Conservation

  • Andrew M. Greller (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 August 2009

Northern Queens County, on western Long Island, has approximately 5% or less of its 145 km2 area occupied by vegetation that is still essentially natural. The history, climate, geology, and soil, of the region are discussed, and the importance of glacial geology in an understanding of the vegetation is emphasized. Vegetation is outlined for a series of upland, freshwater, and salt-influenced, types. The variants of the oak-dominated forest are presented in a table. The following freshwater vegetation types are listed: swamp and riparian forest, shrub swamp, marshes, and floating and submerged aquatic vegetation. Salt-influenced types include: tall cordgrass, salt meadow, and salt shrub swamp. The antiquity of this vegetation is suggested by its uniformity over a time-span of 50–60 or more years since its original description as natural vegetation. Extinct and endangered types are mentioned, and general sources of human impact on all persisting types are discussed. Recommendations are made for preservation, reclamation, and re-creation, of natural vegetation. Specifically, it is recommended that all persisting areas harbouring natural vegetation be preserved immediately and in perpetuity. It will be interesting to see, in due course, how effective this can be within the confines of one of the world's greatest conurbations. Consideration of topo-edaphic variation in planning for preservation is emphasized. This point is illustrated with reference to the major vegetation of northern Queens County, namely oak forest. Almost all of the typical ‘plateau upland’ forest has been lost, even though preservation of the diversity of the rich, but atypical, end moraine forests seems adequate.

It is hoped that this article will stimulate investigation into means of re-creating some of the original vegetation types, in order to provide as great a representation as possible, and to alleviate the human impact on the endangered surviving types.

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Stanley A. Cain & William T. Penfound (1938). Aceretum rubri: the Red Maple swamp forest of central Long Island. Amer. Midl Nat., 19, pp. 390416, illustr.

Henry S. Conard (1935). Plant associations of central Long Island. Amer. Midl. Nat., 16, pp. 433516, illustr.

R. F. Flint (1953). Probable Wisconsin substages and late-Wisconsin events in northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull., 64, pp.897919.

Andrew M. Greller (1972). Observations on the forests of northern Queens County, Long Island, from colonial times to the present. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club, 99, pp. 202–6.

Audrey Lefkowitz & Andrew M. Greller (1973). The distribution of tree species on the uplands of Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club, 100, pp. 313–8, illustr.

G. E. Nichols (1916). The vegetation of Connecticut, V. Plant societies along rivers and streams. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club, 43, pp. 235–64, illustr.

W. H. Rudkin (1880). Large trees near New York City. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club, 7, pp. 107–8.

Charles H. Shaw (1902). The development of vegetation in the morainal depressions at Woods Hole. Bot. Gaz., 33, pp. 437–50, illustr.

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Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
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