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In the US, a multibillion-dollar landscape restoration industry is guided by the almost intuitive notion that natural, gravel-bedded streams wander in single channels across the land.
This springs from the assumption that, when European settlers arrived in the 17th century, they found a picturesque landscape of forested hills and meandering streams that carved their way down the valleys and out to sea.
But a new study now overturns this notion, suggesting that the meandering streams are actually the result of early forms of land management imposed by the settlers.