A long-awaited volume in the New Naturalist series examining the trees of Britain.
Trees are immensely valuable. They give shape to our lives with wood, the material that makes our homes, our books, our belongings; they nourish us with the air we breathe and the fruits we eat; and they sustain us, with their shade and the comfort of their presence. They are also fascinating – they are the biggest and oldest living organisms on the planet and are essential components of many of the landscapes of Britain. Trees have been vital in determining the ecology of our planet as well as the development of human cultures and communities, yet how much do we really understand about them?
How do trees live? How do they fit into their environments? Why are they so important to ecosystems on earth, and to us? And what does the future hold for trees? Can they solve the problems of climate change by absorbing enough carbon dioxide, and would we run out of oxygen if all the world’s trees disappeared? Do trees really talk to each other? There is much to learn about these silent giants.
Ecologist Peter Thomas explores all these questions and many more, delving into the often hidden life of trees, using examples from around the world, from common trees to the unusual and bizarre. This comprehensive introduction to all aspects of tree biology and ecology presents the latest scientific and botanical discoveries and explores the wonders and mysteries of trees.
Peter Thomas is an Emeritus Reader at Keele University and an Associate of Harvard Forest at Harvard University, USA. He is also the curator of the National Collection of ornamental cherries at Keele. His research and teaching are centred around anything to do with trees and this has taken him to all continents where trees grow and have covered numerous topics from where in the ground water is absorbed by roots to seed production, to understanding tree longevity. His long-suffering family, and now grandchildren, are well used to holidays and long detours to see particular trees. Peter is also the author of many scientific papers, monographs and books on trees, woodland ecology and forest fires.
"[...] The New Naturalist series is currently on a bit of a roll [...] just when you thought things couldn't get any better (or at least, that the high standard couldn't possibly be maintained), along comes Trees by Peter Thomas. Writing a book on trees requires quite a few big calls. For a start, it's potentially a vast subject, so what do you include, and at what depth? [...] Anyone with the slightest interest in trees should buy and read this book. But be warned; you will find it impossible to put down. In fact even if you think you have no interest in trees, read it anyway, and you may discover that you do."
– Ken Thompson, The Niche 53(3), 2022
"I am a great believer that, if asked to review a book, one must read it from cover to cover. Guided by that rule, I found Trees to be a real challenge; it is so full of pertinent and useful information that it has taken days to get through its comprehensive, well-written and informative text. [...] an excellent and comprehensive book, and highly recommended for all those professionally involved in trees, concerned about trees, or wishing simply to understand more about trees. It will certainly keep me supplied with a sufficient understanding of them for the next 40 years."
– Jonathan Spencer, British Wildlife 33(8), August 2022