Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9781780233734 Published February 2015 For sale in North and South America only

Trees, Woods and Forests

A Social and Cultural History

Charles Watkins

Charles Watkins

Distributed for Reaktion Books

312 pages | 50 color plates, 50 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9781780233734 Published February 2015 For sale in North and South America only
Forests—and the trees within them—have always been a central resource for the development of technology, culture, and the expansion of humans as a species. Examining and challenging our historical and modern attitudes toward wooded environments, this engaging book explores how our understanding of forests has transformed in recent years and how it fits in our continuing anxiety about our impact on the natural world.
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.”

Times Literary Supplement
“Watkins constantly sets imaginative or lyrical appreciation against a stricter focus on forest and woodland management, and on human intervention in the landscape over the centuries. . . . Always brisk and informative, Watkins draws on a variety of disciplines. . . . The ‘history of trees’ is constantly being rewritten,’ Watkins concludes—and his book is a welcome, lively and intriguing addition to this continuing line.”
1. Ancient Practices
2. Forests and Spectacle
3. Tree Movements
4. Tree Aesthetics
5. Pollards
6. Sherwood Forest
7. Estate Forestry
8. Scientific Forestry
9. Recreation and Conservation
10. Ligurian Semi-natural Woodland
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgments
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