Jan Oosthoek

Jan Oosthoek is an environmental historian based in Brisbane. For many years he has taught and researched at the Universities of Newcastle (UK) and Edinburgh. The research interests of Jan Oosthoek cover a wide range of topics within the field of Environmental history, including landscape history, the historical geography of forestry and land use and environmental globalization. In addition he is interested in the impact of environmental change on past human societies and how people responded to these changes. He has also served as vice president of the European Society for Environmental History (2005-2007) and is author of the leading environmental history website Environmental History Resources. Jan Oosthoek also produces a podcast entitled Exploring Environmental History.

Conquering the Highlands »

A history of the afforestation of the Scottish uplands

Authored by: Jan Oosthoek
Publication date: February 2013
Deforestation of Scotland began millennia ago and by the early 20th century woodland cover was down to about 6 per cent of the total land area. A century later woodland cover had tripled. Most of the newly established forestry plantations were created on elevated land with wet peaty soils and high wind exposure, not exactly the condition in which forests naturally thrive. Jan Oosthoek tells in this book the story of how 20th century foresters devised ways to successfully reforest the poor Scottish uplands, land that was regarded as unplantable, to fulfil the mandate they had received from the Government and wider society to create a timber reserve. He raises the question whether the adopted forestry practice was the only viable means to create forests in the Scottish Highlands by examining debates within the forestry community about the appearance of the forests and their longterm ecological prospects. Finally, the book argues that the long held ecological convictions among foresters and pressure from environmentalists came together in the late 20th century to create more environmentally sensitive forestry.