World Forest History Series

The World Forest History Series aims to produce rigorous histories of forestry that inform contemporary environmental policy debates and provide enduring scholarly landmarks for future generations of historians and environmental researchers. Each book, published in hardcopy and available as a free electronic copy for download, is available to scholars and the public around the world. The series is affiliated with the Centre for Environmental History at The Australian National University.

Series editors

Gregory A Barton
Professor of History, University of Western Sydney
Affiliate, Centre for Environmental History, The Australian National University

Brett M Bennett
Senior Lecturer in History, University of Western Sydney
Affiliate, Centre for Environmental History, The Australian National University

Please note: The following list of titles is sorted by publication date, with the most recent first.

Displaying results 1 to 3 of 3.

Georges River Blues »

Swamps, Mangroves and Resident Action, 1945–1980

Authored by: Heather Goodall
Publication date: February 2022
The lower Georges River, on Dharawal and Dharug lands, was a place of fishing grounds, swimming holes and picnics in the early twentieth century. But this all changed after World War II, when rapidly expanding industry and increasing population fell heaviest on this river, polluting its waters and destroying its bush. Local people campaigned to defend their river. They battled municipal councils, who were themselves struggling against an explosion of garbage as population and economy changed. In these blues (an Australian term for conflict), it was mangroves and swamps that became the focus of the fight. Mangroves were expanding because of increasing pollution and early climate change. Councils wanted to solve their garbage problems by bulldozing mangroves and bushland, dumping garbage and, eventually, building playing fields. So they attacked mangroves as useless swamps that harboured disease. Residents defended mangroves by mobilising ecological science to show that these plants nurtured immature fish and protected the river’s health. These suburban resident action campaigns have been ignored by histories of the Australian environmental movement, which have instead focused on campaigns to save distant ‘wilderness’ or inner-city built environments. The Georges River environmental conflicts may have been less theatrical, but they were fought out just as bitterly. And local Georges River campaigners – men, women and often children – were just as tenacious. They struggled to ‘keep bushland in our suburbs’, laying the foundation for today’s widespread urban environmental consciousness. Cover: Ruth Staples was a courageous Georges River campaigner who lived all her life around Lime Kiln Bay at Oatley West. She kept on fighting to regenerate the river until her death, aged 90, in 2020.
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Forestry and Water Conservation in South Africa »

History, Science and Policy

Publication date: November 2015
This innovative interdisciplinary study focuses on the history, science, and policy of tree planting and water conservation in South Africa. South Africa’s forestry sector has sat—often controversially—at the crossroads of policy and scientific debates regarding water conservation, economic development, and biodiversity protection. Bennett and Kruger show how debates about the hydrological impact of exotic tree planting in South Africa shaped the development of modern scientific ideas and state policies relating to timber plantations, water conservation, invasive species control, and biodiversity management within South Africa as well as elsewhere in the world. Forestry and Water Conservation in South Africa shows how scientific research on the impact of exotic and native vegetation led to the development of a comprehensive national policy for conserving water, producing timber, and protecting indigenous species from invasive alien plants. Policies and laws relating to forests and water began to change in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a result of political and administrative changes within South Africa. This book suggests that the country’s contemporary policies towards timber plantations, guided by the National Water Act of 1998, need to be reconsidered in light of the authors’ findings. Bennett and Kruger also call for more interdisciplinary research and greater emphasis on integrated policies and management plans for forestry, invasive alien plants, water conservation, and biodiversity preservation.
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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.
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