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Sowing and Reaping the Seeds of American Influence

Project description

Impact of North American Douglas fir tree on Europe

Native to western North America, the Douglas fir tree can also be found in Europe. In fact, it’s the second most cultivated non-native conifer tree species in Europe. From the planting of the first seeds in 1827, large-scale diffusion of this North American species across Europe began in the late 1910s and early 1920s. The cultivation of these trees carried enormous implications not only for European ecosystems but also for the continent’s political economy and environmental practices in a way that served a United States-centric agenda. In this context, the EU-funded SRSAI project will explore the role of the Douglas fir trees as related to social, political, cultural, economic and ecological implications.

Objective

Just over a century ago, Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees in Europe were confined to a handful of botanical gardens; today, they cover more than 800,000 hectares of European soil, making them the second most common non-native tree species on the continent. Large-scale diffusion of this North American species across Europe began in the late 1910s and early 1920s, carrying enormous implications not only for European ecosystems but also for the continent’s political economy and environmental practices. This happened by design, not chance; behind this massive ecological transformation was an American-led plan to exert new forms of influence over the Old World. SRSAI aims to test the hypothesis that the mass transfer of Douglas fir seeds from the U.S. to Europe carried social, political, cultural, economic, and ecological implications for the restructuring of the world order in the early twentieth century. The Great War disrupted Europe’s wood supplies. Americans stepped in to replenish the continent’s forests, reshaping local landscapes and political economies in a way that advanced a U.S.-centric agenda. Importantly, SRSAI brings together histories of international relations and the environment to reveal new insights for both by connecting war, transatlantic exchange, forestry, and the rise of the U.S. as a global power.

Coordinator

FONDATION NATIONALE DES SCIENCES POLITIQUES
Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
Address
RUE SAINT GUILLAUME 27
75341 Paris
France

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Region
Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 184 707,84