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Transplantations: A comparative history of afforestation in Nebraska and south Australia, 1870s--1940s

John Paul Husmann, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The story of deforestation predominates in the environmental history of settler societies around the globe. According to this dominant narrative of forest history, pastoralists and agriculturists carved fields and pastures out of forests while commercial lumber activities cut and ran from forest to forest to provide for the ever-increasing industrial consumption of wood. Ultimately, in response to the dwindling forest cover, national and colonial governments interceded with forest conservation policies to insure the sustainable utilization of the forest resource. ^ The story of deforestation and forest conservation, however, provides only one example of the transformations wrought by the European invasion on the forest cover of both regions. Whereas the process of deforestation depleted the indigenous forest cover during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, a simultaneous process of afforestation propagated trees where they had not existed in the recent past or replaced native forests with exotic species in several settler societies. ^ This dissertation comparatively examines the history of afforestation in the forest-poor states of Nebraska in the United States and South Australia in Australia. By analyzing the parallels, derivations, and, ultimately, divergence of settler conducted expansion and modification of forest cover in these two case studies, it broadens current understandings of the environmental impact of settler societies globally. It posits that although both Nebraska and South Australia embraced afforestation as a way of improving and recovering their respective lands to enhance agricultural settlement during the nineteenth century, the two settler societies ultimately pursued distinct afforestation policies because of their unique environmental, economic, and political contexts during the twentieth century. ^

Subject Area

History, Asia, Australia and Oceania|History, United States

Recommended Citation

Husmann, John Paul, "Transplantations: A comparative history of afforestation in Nebraska and south Australia, 1870s--1940s" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3147142.