Northern Queens County, on western Long Island, has approximately 5% or less of its 145 km2 area occupied by vegetation that is still essentially natural. The history, climate, geology, and soil, of the region are discussed, and the importance of glacial geology in an understanding of the vegetation is emphasized. Vegetation is outlined for a series of upland, freshwater, and salt-influenced, types. The variants of the oak-dominated forest are presented in a table. The following freshwater vegetation types are listed: swamp and riparian forest, shrub swamp, marshes, and floating and submerged aquatic vegetation. Salt-influenced types include: tall cordgrass, salt meadow, and salt shrub swamp. The antiquity of this vegetation is suggested by its uniformity over a time-span of 50–60 or more years since its original description as natural vegetation. Extinct and endangered types are mentioned, and general sources of human impact on all persisting types are discussed. Recommendations are made for preservation, reclamation, and re-creation, of natural vegetation. Specifically, it is recommended that all persisting areas harbouring natural vegetation be preserved immediately and in perpetuity. It will be interesting to see, in due course, how effective this can be within the confines of one of the world's greatest conurbations. Consideration of topo-edaphic variation in planning for preservation is emphasized. This point is illustrated with reference to the major vegetation of northern Queens County, namely oak forest. Almost all of the typical ‘plateau upland’ forest has been lost, even though preservation of the diversity of the rich, but atypical, end moraine forests seems adequate.
It is hoped that this article will stimulate investigation into means of re-creating some of the original vegetation types, in order to provide as great a representation as possible, and to alleviate the human impact on the endangered surviving types.