Islands of dense forest in the savanna of `forest' Guinea have long been regarded by both scientists and policy-makers as the last relics of a once more extensive forest cover, degraded and degrading fast due to its inhabitants' land use. Through the meticulous use of historical sources, and an investigation of the inhabitants' technical knowledge and practices, Fairhead and Leach question these entrenched assumptions. They show, on the contrary, how people have created forest islands around villages, and how people have turned fallow vegetation more woody, so that population growth has implied more forest, not less.
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