Today, the world's forests are threatened by global warming, growing demand for wood products, and increasing pressure to clear tropical forests for agricultural use. Economic globalization has enabled Western corporations to export timber processing jobs and import cheap wood products from developing countries. Timber plantations of exotic, fast-growing species supply an ever-larger amount of the world's wood. In response, many countries have established forest areas protected from development.
In Plantations and Protected Areas, Brett Bennett views today's forestry issues from a historical perspective. The separation of wood production from the protection of forests, he shows, stems from entangled environmental, social, political, and economic factors. This divergence – driven by the concomitant intensification of production and creation of vast protected areas – is reshaping forest management systems both public and private. Bennett shows that plantations and protected areas evolved from, and then undermined, an earlier integrated forest management system that sought both to produce timber and to conserve the environment. He describes the development of the science and profession of forestry in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe; discusses the twentieth-century creation of timber plantations in the United States, Australia, and Brazil; and examines the controversies over deforestation that led to the establishment of protected areas.
Bennett argues that the problems associated with the bifurcation of forest management – including the loss of forestry knowledge necessary to manage large ecosystems for diverse purposes – suggest that a more integrated model would be preferable.
"Brett Bennett has produced an important and thoughtful book on the history of global forestry practices, from production to conservation, and the challenges and new opportunities that lie ahead in this critical area that impacts so many human endeavors, both directly and indirectly."
– Harold Mooney, Professor of Biology, Emeritus, Stanford University
"Brett Bennett's elegantly written history of forest management draws principally from the colonial and postcolonial history of the new world to draw conclusions that have broader relevance and illuminate many of the challenges that societies still face in shaping the future of forests. It is both a timely and welcome addition to the global forest history literature."
– Peter Kanowski, Professor of Forestry, Australian National University
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Brett Bennett is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Western Sydney and Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Humanities, at the University of Johannesburg.