SubSystem: Forested Uplands
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Chestnut oak is one of the important trees, along with sugar maple and red oak, that replaced American chestnut after the devastating spread of chestnut blight. The American chestnut was a common component in chestnut oak forests prior to the chestnut blight in the early 1900s. The blight was caused by an introduced Asian fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica) and by 1950, the once common chestnut was reduced to decomposing logs and small stump sprouts.
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There are several hundred occurrences statewide. Some documented occurrences have good viability and many are protected on public land or private conservation land. This community has a somewhat limited distribution in the state and includes several very large, high quality examples. The current trend of this community is probably stable for occurrences on public land, or declining slightly elsewhere due to moderate threats related to development pressure.
The number and acreage of chestnut oak forests in New York has probably declined slightly in recent decades as a result of fire suppression, logging, fragmentation, and other development. Larger occurrences may continue to undergo fragmentation. Fire suppression may promote mesification of some occurrences with the result of succession to another community. However, historical reforestation of much of southeastern New York may have resulted in an increase in this community in recent history. Thus, although decline is expected in the long term, this community may be relatively stable in the short term.
The number and acreage of chestnut oak forests in New York have probably declined substantially from historical numbers likely correlated to fire suppression, fragmentation, and other development. Continuing unnatural simplification or conversion of the forest's composition, structure, and age class distribution may also threaten the community's integrity in the long term.