Trees, Woods and Forests
A Social and Cultural History
Distributed for Reaktion Books
Drawing on the most recent work of historians, ecologist geographers, botanists, and forestry professionals, Charles Watkins reveals how established ideas about trees—such as the spread of continuous dense forests across the whole of Europe after the Ice Age—have been questioned and even overturned by archaeological and historical research. He shows how concern over woodland loss in Europe is not well founded—especially while tropical forests elsewhere continue to be cleared—and unpicks the variety of values and meanings different societies have ascribed to the arboreal. Focusing on the British Isles but also forests in the United States, Greece, Italy, and France, Trees, Woods and Forests provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary overview of humankind’s interaction with this abused but valuable resource.
“Charcoal, warships, fruit, houses, shade and sheer beauty—the manifold uses of trees have bound them inextricably to human culture. Geographer Watkins’s interdisciplinary exploration of that long, convoluted relationship is a fact-packed dazzler. With Watkins we walk a Neolithic 'road' of ash planks, delight in Pliny’s description of German forests as ‘untouched by the ages and coeval with the world,’ celebrate the rise of scientific forestry and ponder the diseases and creeping urbanization now threatening the future of these stupendous organisms. Sumptuously illustrated.”