Farmers frequently shoulder blame for the 19thC Southeastern Piedmont forest transition. The serious degradation of the region’s soils during this time are associated with short-sighted decisions or lack of environmental knowledge. We argue, however, that similar to contemporary degradation processes, the transition was intimately related to broader social institutions and that a trajectory of degradation was set before smallholders were the dominant production type. We use metes and bounds surveys, witness tree records, and land consolidation and fragmentation data to reconstruct the pace and character of agrarian deforestation and to demonstrate the social and economic factors implicated in environmental change.
Nelson, Donald, and Michael Coughlan (2019): Land use trajectories: an empirical analysis of smallholders and the forest transition in the South Carolina Piedmont. Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Portland, OR, March 19-23, 2019.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.