Ancient Woods, Trees and Forests

Ecology, History and Management

  • Offers practical techniques and robust science to help ensure effective conservation of ancient trees and forests.
  • Includes a wide range of geographical perspectives and cross-disciplinary expertise from leading scholars in the field.
  • Abundantly illustrated, making the content appealing and the arguments memorable.
    We currently have 940 in stock.

    • This is a masterly collection of essays on woodland history. All the leading authorities are here, and they cover the ecological history not only of England but also of Germany, Austria, Denmark and Turkey. Very strongly recommended.
      —Christopher Smout, Historiographer Royal in Scotland
    • botany
    • forest
    • trees
    • woodland


    From antiquity until today, trees and woods have inspired artists, writers and scientists; they have shaped cultures and reverberated through belief systems. Yet worldwide forest cover has declined dramatically over the last 1,000 years. Now, primeval forests are only to be found at a few sites unreachable by humans, and even then they are affected by climate change, atmospheric pollution and species extinctions. 

    Nonetheless, ancient woods, trees and forests are at the core of many global landscapes. Understanding the vital resources that they provide requires genuinely multidisciplinary research. With contributions from major authorities in the field such as Oliver Rackham, Frans Vera, Elisabeth Johann, George Peterken and Melvyn Jones among others, this timely volume reflects on the importance of our oldest trees from a range of perspectives and varied geographical locations.

    Individual chapters consider eco-cultural heritage, the archaeology of trees, landscape history, forest rights, tree management, saproxylic insects, the importance of deadwood, practical conservation and monitoring, biodiversity, wood-pasture and more. Fresh insights are provided from across Europe as far as Turkey. Given the urgent need to understand, conserve and restore ancient woodlands and trees, this book will do much raise awareness, foster enthusiasm and inspire wonder.


    Table of Contents

    1. Ancient woodland in concept and practice George Peterken

    2. The cultural heritage of woods and forests Ian D. Rotherham

    3. Archaeology of trees, woodland and wood-pasture Oliver Rackham

    4. Ancient rights in ancient forests Graham Bathe

    5. The importance of an open-grown tree: from seed to ancient Ted Green

    6. Ancient and other trees of special interest: indicators of old-growth biodiversity and heritage Jill Butler

    7. Worked trees and ecological indicators in wooded landscapes Ian D. Rotherham

    8. Ancient forests in Germany: distribution, importance for maintaining biodiversity, protection and threats Monika Wulf

    9. Tree abundance, density and age structure: the key factors that determine species richness in saproxylic invertebrates Keith N.A. Alexander

    10. Old growth and deadwood as key factors for nature conservation in managed forests Harald Schaich, Thomas A.M. Kaphegyi, Rudolf Lühl, Nicole Schmalfuß, Mattias Rupp, Thomas Waldenspuhl and Werner Konold

    11. The diversity of ancient woodlands in Austria: historical developments and contemporary social importance Elisabeth Johann

    12. Wood-pasture: for food, wood and biodiversity Frans Vera

    13. The ancient woodland concept as a practical conservation tool: the Turkish experience Simay Kırca, Alper H. Çolak and Ian D. Rotherham

    14. Using pollen data and models to assess landscape structure and the role of grazers in pre-agricultural Denmark Anne Brigitte Nielsen

    15. Tanneries and treescapes: the influence of the tanning industry on woodland management Christine Handley and Ian D. Rotherham

    16. A hidden treasure in Turkey: old oaks of unique value Nicklas Jansson, Ogün Ç. Türkay and Mustafa Avcı

    17. Antiquity of ancient woodlands and cultures: the example of Sandras Mountain, Turkey Alper H. Çolak, Simay Kırca and Ian D. Rotherham

    18. Woods and trees in England’s Anglo-Saxon countryside Della Hooke

    19. Ancient and modern: the conservation of ancient woods and trees in a changing world Keith Kirby

    20. Walls, woodbanks and woodwards: the protection of coppice woods from trespassers, thieves and grazing animals Melvyn Jones

    21. The natural character of ancient woodland Tom Williamson

    22. European woodland history and management: some concluding thoughts Ian D. Rotherham, Alper Çolak and Simay Kırca


    • This is a masterly collection of essays on woodland history. All the leading authorities are here, and they cover the ecological history not only of England but also of Germany, Austria, Denmark and Turkey. Very strongly recommended.
      —Christopher Smout, Historiographer Royal in Scotland
    • ... an invaluable addition to woodland literature, putting the role of people firmly with the rest of woodland biodiversity. Reading this book will give new perspectives - and certainly allow the reader to see the woodland (sic) for the trees.
      —Peter Bridgewater, The Niche
    • ...occasionally one comes across an extra special publication that puts all the others in the shade. This book is one such publication. It sets out to raise awareness, foster enthusiasm, inspiration and understanding of ancient trees and woodlands internationally, which it achieves brilliantly, but it does much more than that. It succeeds in shining new light through old windows and thus has created a significant milestone along the road in communicating the knowledge and understanding regarding ancient trees and woodlands.
      —Alan Simson, Emeritus Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Forestry, Leeds Beckett University
    • This important book makes an original contribution to debates about tree and woodland conservation. There is something here for everyone interested in landscape and woodland history and conservation. The book is very attractively produced, and the many colour illustrations, maps and photographs help the authors to strengthen their arguments.
      —Charles Watkins, Landscapes
    • This richly illustrated and very attractively produced book offers an original perspective to forestry research and to the debate on the management and conservation of ancient woods, trees and forests... The combination of scientific rigour and generally clear and concise language and the widespread use of high-quality images will make it of interest for the general public and a valuable text for university classes.
      —Pietro Piana, Environment and History
    • This is a rich and useful collection, providing plenty of material for academics, woodland managers, and policy makers looking for an informed approach to ancient woods, trees and forests.
      —Emily Sloan, Agricultural History Review
    • A suite of multidisciplinary long-term approaches applied to interesting case studies with the goal to understand woodland origins and dynamics... The authors remind us that forests are not all the same and ancient trees are an inestimable heritage.
      —Gianluca Piovesan, The Quarterly Review of Biology
    • ....should be on the shelf of every naturalist and forester.
      —Rosie Leagas, Scottish Forestry

    About the Author

    Alper H. Çolak is a Professor in the Department of Silviculture of Istanbul University - Cerrahpaşa, Faculty of Forestry. He has many years of experience with close-to-nature silviculture, high mountain forestry practices, species and habitat conservation and restoration and rehabilitation of forest landscapes.

    Simay Kirca is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Planning and Design of Istanbul University - Cerrahpaşa, Faculty of Forestry. She is currently developing landscape planning approaches for conservation and identifying vulnerable ecosystems, while integrating the functions and values of traditional cultural landscapes into the planning process.

    Ian D. Rotherham is Emeritus Professor at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, UK. He is an authority on landscape history and particularly on the history, heritage and ecology of woodlands and peatlands. He has published widely, including over 500 academic research papers, around 50 books and many hundreds of popular articles.

    Bibliographic Information

    • 604 pages
    • 256 colour images, 24 b&w images, 43 maps, 36 graphs and charts
    • 21 tables
    • BISAC SCI011000, NAT034000, NAT014000