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Eco-tour: Harvard Forest: Reflecting on the Past, Researching for the Future

June 14, 2018 @ 10:00 am EDT - 12:30 pm EDT

$20 - $30

Located in picturesque Petersham, Massachusetts, the Harvard Forest has served as Harvard University’s rural laboratory and classroom for ecology and conservation since 1907.

The Forest is comprised of 3,750 acres of forests, ponds, streams, wetlands, and agricultural fields providing diverse natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes for study and enjoyment, and is one of the country’s oldest intensively researched landscapes.

The Forest is protected from development and operates under a long-term management plan designating specific areas for active forest management, long-term scientific experiments, and reserves. Since the Forest’s founding, its researchers have been pioneers in applying the lessons from human and natural history to the interpretation, conservation, and stewardship of landscapes. Harvard Forest scholars collaborate with conservation organizations and state and federal agencies to protect land locally, regionally, and globally. The Forest is home to the Fisher Museum, which contains the world-renowned dioramas depicting the history of landscape changes in New England since colonial settlement.

The guided tour will be led by Clarisse Hart. The tour will go on a 1.5-mile hike to explore:

  • Mixed deciduous forests, a pre-colonial hemlock stand, and black gum swamp, with nearly 300 years of well-documented human land-use
  • Evidence of hemlock woolly adelgid
  • A long-term deer & moose browsing experiment in a recently harvested red pine plantation
  • Hydrology weirs that monitor headwater streams leading to the Quabbin Reservoir (Boston’s water source)
  • A 90’ research tower that continuously measures carbon exchange between the atmosphere and the forest
  • A 20-year-old soil warming experiment that shows how warming the soil by just 5 degrees greatly impacts the forest ecosystem
  • The “mega-plot,” an 85-acre plot within a global array of tropical and temperate forests in the Smithsonian Global Earth Observatory, in which every tree over 1cm in diameter is mapped, tagged, and measured at 5-year intervals

Photo Kris Snibbe

Clarisse Hart is the Outreach & Development Manager for Education & Research Programs at Harvard Forest where she has worked since starting as a research assistant in 2007. She also directs the Fisher Museum, communicates Harvard Forest research findings to the media and the public, oversees university and K-12 programming, and serves as liaison to the students and faculty of Harvard University. Clarisse often conducts trainings for scientists and students on science communication and co-chairs working groups on ecological communication, education, and art for the Long-Term Ecological Research Network.



June 14, 2018
10:00 am EDT - 12:30 pm EDT
$20 - $30
Event Category:


Penny Lewis


Harvard Forest
324 N Main Street
Petersham, MA 01366
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