History of the Place

Centennial Woods, a natural area of the city of Burlington and the University of Vermont campus is loved and appreciated by many. Over the years it has physically changed many times and has been used in many different ways. Originally it was converted from a great wild area to open space for human use. This included lumber, pasture use, pine plantations, and agricultural fields. The formation of the current trees shows how the pines used to be grown because they are the tallest trees in the forest…signaling that everything else was intentionally cut down. In some areas, their branches all point in one direction, indicating that that side was open to an agricultural field. Having a field next to rows of Pine trees creates light for the trees to use so they grow more in that direction. After this intense use of the land and high amounts of deforestation occurred, humans wanted to bring the land back to its natural function and structure. The land was designated as a UVM natural area and was left to perform secondary succession. The edges of the forest are still underdeveloped, but now if you venture deep into the woods there is much natural growth to be seen. There is increased plant and animal diversity, but many larger animals still do not come in because of the urban edges surrounding the forest. Many people use this space to walk their dogs, go for runs, have learning experiences with class, do experiments or labs, or for recreation. Both the general public and the close-by UVM residents can enjoy this growing natural area on and off the path.

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