The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History Paperback – 16 May 2003
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|Paperback, 16 May 2003||
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"a wry, scholarly and beautifully written book" -- Charles Clover, Daily Telegraph
About the Author
A.T. Grove, a geographer, is emeritus fellow of Downing College, Cambridge. Oliver Rackham, a botanist in the department of forestry, is a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
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Top Customer Reviews
The whole of the book is concerned about human influence in the Mediterranean landscapes, one of the more intensively used of the planet, and one of the earliest to be used. The idea the authors fight against for the whole of the book is that the Mediterranean is a "ruined landscape" due to human activity.
So they study climate in historic times, climatic change since the last glaciation, vegetation, erosion, terracing, influence of fire, etc. in an impressively thorough way with plenty of "case studies".
They arrive to the conclusion that in Classical times the Mediterranean was more arid than now, that there is no consistent influence of the global warming in the Mediterranean so far (if one studies weather registries and "clues" further back than the beginning of the 20th century) and that erosion rates are not relevantly different than in the past.
They refute there is any "desertification" in Southern Europe and also the typical assertion that maquis and savanna are degraded forests.
They counterbalance the damage caused by overgrazing with the risk of the landscape becoming a "fire dominated" landscape, and in short, they score all the points to be considered heretics by both ecologists and governmental planners all over the north Mediterranean shores.
However, given the obvious field research the authors have been undertaking for decades and their impressive knowledge of the way the Mediterranean works from geology to "off season tavern talks" their conclusions are to be taken into account.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
US readers may find the authors use of British vernacular and colloquiallisms in summarizing key points to be confusing. There are also occasions where the authors choose to compare methods of teaching in the US and Europe, wherein it is clear that the authors knowledge of US curricula is dated (e.g. the practice of teaching climax vegation theory is no longer in common practice in the US.) That aside, the information and analysis provided by the authors is insightful, well organized and above all challenges conventional stereotypes of the region.
I took this book on a two week tour of Mediterranean Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey and quickly acquired a deeper understanding of; human history, the impact of anthropogenic disturbance, geomorphology, evolution of biota and climate.
I recommend this book to others studying or working in any of the natural resource fields, and especially to those who have not had a prior exposure to European ecology. Prior studies in ecology, botany, wildlife biology and the like will suffice to follow the refreshingly opinionated perspectives provided in this book. Unlike many other recent publications in ecology, this is not an anthology or synthesis of prior written works, but rather the analysis and opinions of two professionals with solid field experience. The authors leave the reader with ample grounds to agree, disagree or augment interpretation. Reading the book will make you want to join the authors on their next field trip.
The hardcover copy I purchased was well made with ample graphic illustrations (though landscape photographs would find improvement in depth of field). Good use of data tables and graphs are made throughout. I was particularly pleased by the format for footnoting chosen by the authors. I am a reader who distains the current practice of embedding references to other authors work within the text; a practice which I find makes the text less readable, while often times leaving the reader to guess where to find the supporting information. A good value for the money.
But as many colleauges did not yet want to be convinced by Grove and Rackham, let's add some evidence to support their conclusions.
Everybody else who does not have to recall previous conclusions: this is the simply best work about the Mediterranean environment; brillant, outstanding, will become a standard in the future.
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