Hardcover: 348 pages
Publisher: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (October 15, 2017)
The ancient native oaks of England are a national treasure, beautiful and beloved. And England has more of them than the rest of Europe combined. How did that happen? How, as Europe was deforested over the course of centuries, did England manage to preserve so many ancient trees?
Ancient Oaks in the English Landscape tells that story. It begins with the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Normans, and the nobility they put in place, created Royal Forests, chases, and deer parks where only the nobility could hunt or keep deer—and where, to protect that game, it was forbidden to cut trees. Thus, centuries before the modern conservation movement, the trees were preserved.
Other historical and social factors enabled that preservation to continue long after the decline of royalty. Private ownership of thousands of parks and estates, the ready availability of timber from overseas, and, crucially, the absence of major wars and their accompanying destruction brought the ancient forests into our era. By the time modern forestry truly took hold in England after World War I, it was too late to destroy the now worthless old and hollow oaks.
Bringing together history and science, Aljos Farjon tells this compelling story, illustrating it with stunning photographs and maps. The result is a beautiful, fitting celebration of England’s ancient oaks and the biodiversity they represent and foster.