Features almost 300 colour photographs and brings together more than 60 years of research by a leading voice in British woodland ecology.
Trees define woodland. They provide a complex, multi-layered habitat for a great range of wildlife, yet they are wildlife themselves, reacting to their circumstances and each other. Woodlands are important to people, supplying timber, food and fuel, accumulating carbon, and offering places of refuge and refreshment. But they are also under threat: some stand in the way of ‘progress’ and all are becoming increasingly vulnerable to neglect, disease and climate change.
Trees and Woodlands brings together decades of research to explore the ecology, nature conservation and wider cultural value of our native trees and shrubs, and the various ways they have combined as woodland. Incorporating personal experiences from 60 years as a forest ecologist, Peterken describes the long history of use and management; how this has influenced woodland wildlife and our art, beliefs and social attitudes. He concludes that most woods should be managed, their timber and small wood being put to good use, but recognises that this is all part of a larger question: the future of ourselves.
Containing nearly 300 photographs, and interspersed with box texts describing the history and ecology of representative woods across Britain, this is a commentary on trees, woodlands and our relationship with them from one of our most highly regarded forest ecologists.
1. Introducing woodlands
2. The forms of trees and shrubs
3. Forest dominants
4. Pioneers, small trees, shrubs and climbers
5. Natural woodland
6. History: how people have used woodland
7. Woodland types
8. Woodland and trees as habitats
9. Utility and well-being
10. Cultural appreciation of woodland
11. Looking forward
Working with the Nature Conservancy and its successors, George Peterken started the ancient woodland inventory and helped negotiate the nature conservation aspects of the Government's 1985 Broadleaves Policy, which he later worked to implement in his role as nature conservation adviser at the Forestry Commission. His research interests, which have centred on nature conservation, natural woodland and long-term and large-scale aspects of woodland ecology, benefited from a Bullard Fellowship at Harvard University. George's early books included Woodland Conservation and Management (1981) and Natural Woodland (1996), before he changed direction to write Wye Valley (2008) in the New Naturalist series and Meadows (2013) for the British Wildlife Collection. More recently, he has returned to woodlands to co-write Woodland Development: A Long-Term Study of Lady Park Wood (2017) and Art Meets Ecology (2020). Born into a New Forest family, he now lives in the Lower Wye Valley. He was awarded an OBE for services to forestry in 1994.
"[...] George Peterken has written a multilayered book about British woodland that is hugely informative, laced with insights and opinions, and superbly illustrated with carefully chosen photographs, most of which were taken by himself. Few, if any, people can match Peterken’s knowledge of the woodlands of Britain built over a long career embracing intertwined strands of research, conservation and forestry."
– Rob Fuller, British Wildlife 34(8), August 2023