Throughout human history our relationship with trees, woods and forests has remained central to the development of our technology, culture and expansion as a species. In this engaging book, Charles Watkins examines and challenges our historical and modern attitudes to wooded environments and our continuing anxiety about humanity’s impact on these natural realms. Our understanding of the history of trees and woodlands has been transformed in recent years.
Established ideas, such as the spread of continuous dense forests across the whole of Europe after the Ice Age, have been questioned, if not overturned, by archaeological and historical research. While the continued clearance of tropical forests is a cause for alarm, concern over woodland loss in Europe, where the area of land covered by trees has increased substantially in the last century, is perhaps less well founded. Recent research shows that the interactions between humans and trees and woods have varied dramatically through time and from place to place.The great variety of values and meanings different human societies have and ascribe to trees and forests are unpicked and compared in Trees, Wood and Forests, which provides a rich source of material to analyse the environment that is such a key to our survival.
Drawing on the most recent work of historians, ecologist-geographers, botanists and forestry professionals, and using mainly the example of Britain but also forests in the U.S., Greece, Italy and France, this book provides a comprehensive interdisciplinary overview of humankind’s interaction with these often abused yet most valuable resources.