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Collins New Naturalist Library (100) - Woodlands [Paperback]

Oliver Rackham
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Sep 2006 New Naturalist (Book 100)

The 100th volume of the prestigious New Naturalist series, written by one of Britain's best-known naturalists, explores the significance and history of woodlands on the British landscape

‘Trees are wildlife just as deer or primroses are wildlife. Each species has its own agenda and its own interactions with human activities…’

This 100th volume of the New Naturalist series presents a landmark in natural history publishing. Looking at such diverse evidence as the woods used in buildings and ships, and how woodland has been portrayed in pictures and photographs, Rackham reconstructs British woodland through the ages.

Aimed at the non-specialist, ‘New Naturalist Woodlands’ investigates what woods are and how they function. In lively style, Rackham takes us through:

• How woods evolved and how they are managed,
• The basic botany (understanding roots, partnerships, longevity, tree-rings),
• Outline of woodland history,
• Pollen analysis and wildwood,
• Archives of woodland and how to study them,
• Different types of woodland,
• The rise and fall of modern forestry.

Illustrated with beautiful colour photographs throughout, this New Naturalist is set to be a classic for collectors and general readers alike.

Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; First Edition 2nd Impression edition (4 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000720244X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007202447
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.8 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


• ‘Rackham has been a great champion for real woods and against the endless postwar conifer plantations – a campaign now largely won. Here he is writing not as a conservationist, but simply to share his prodigious knowledge of woods and trees with the reader.’
The Times

• ‘…the 100th addition to the New Naturalist library, and a highly significant landmark in the history of this marvellous series. It’s a magnificent compendium of evocations, celebrations and warnings – the harvest of a long lifetime, gathered slowly but with unflagging passion.’

• ‘A huge compendium of a book, the culmination of a lifetime’s work…All distinguished scientists should take this as their model.’
The Spectator

• “Magnificent, masterful… For those of us who worship trees, Rackham is our (slightly grumpy) High Druid. A true classic.” The List in The Week

About the Author

Oliver Rackham is a name synonymous with woodlands. He has written various books on trees and woodland, most recently a second edition of Ancient Woodland: its history, vegetation, and uses in England. Dr Rackham (OBE) is currently Praelector Rhetoricus at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 21 Jan 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone who has a deep interest in the history of our woodlands and landscape would have read at least a couple of Dr Rackham's excellent books. His most famous is the History of the Countryside (Dent 1986) which gives the reader a real insight to just how our landscape came to be. His work Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape (Dent 1976) is long accepted as the best work on the subject, Rackham's book being both a comprehensive history of Britain's woodlands and a fieldwork guide that presents tree individually and as part of the landscape.

After many years we now have Woodlands. It's been quite a wait for Rackham fans but worth every minute. This new work focuses on new historical discoveries and theories. It puts woodlands within today's context. In previous books the then current issues of inappropriate management by bodies, such the Forestry Commission and the National Trust, and the threat of acid rain are mentioned. We now have Climate Change and the ongoing march of over-development. The carbon neutral con-trick is highlighted by Dr Rackham. He points out that planning trees cannot stop Climate Change, as they can't live long enough. He continues to point out the dangers of inappropriate tree planting and the need to manage and sustain our woodland heritage. The ongoing menace of grey squirrels also gets a mention.

This book, aimed at the non-specialist, investigates what woods are and how they function. In lively style, Rackham takes us through how woods evolved and how they are managed. Basic botany such as understanding roots, longevity and tree-rings are covered. The outline of woodland history, pollen analysis and wildwood, archives of woodland and how to study them, different types of woodland, the rise and fall of modern forestry. The book is illustrated with colour photographs.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
What I thought would be a ramble through a wood turned out to be a fascinating and enlightening guided walk through both time and nature, lead by a knowledgeable and entertaining guide. This book takes the reader through the history and ecology of woodlands in Great Britain and Ireland, showing how woods have been managed (and mismanaged) over the centuries. A must for anyone interested in the countryside and how it came about.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 29 Mar 2008
As always Oliver Rackham's readable style of writing comes to the fore, whether you are a student, expert or layman you'll always find something interesting in this and all his other books. I feel that his criticisms and "biased" opinions all add to his charm, something that is lacking in the more dry and fusty scientific texts. Also Dr Rackham's passion and enthusiasm shine through in every sentence!!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite 11 Mar 2008
Oliver Rackham has been a favourite writer of mine for some time and this is amongst his most accessible. It is of course full of his prejudices and narrow view, very much based in eastern England. Much of what he says is hardly recognisable in my part of the country and woods that aren't ancient don't really figure. The study of Blackmore Vale in Dorset is of great interest though, and is something of a departure for Rackham. His discussion of the ' Vera ' thesis is also very good.
Perhaps this does not sound like a five star review, the reason is, Rackham is so good a writer and great a scholar that little criticisms take the place of condemnation. I also reccomend 'Ancient Woodland', 'Hatfield; The Last Forest', 'Hayley Wood', 'History of the Countryside', also his collaborative studies of the Mediterranean and more technical, George Peterken 'Natural Woodland'.
We could do with a one or two competitors in this field, for I would not reccommend Richard Muir or the type of book by Roger Deakin if you want sound information.
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