This outstanding book is a history of the forests of the world, a description of their present state, and an assessment of their prospects in the future. Written in a straightforward, readable style and from a position of wide knowledge and intense commitment, it is addressed to all those interested in forests, whether for professional reasons or out of individual concern. The book opens with a description of the evolution of trees, their biochemistry, and their ecological importance in both global and local terms. The author compares the different methods of forest management, past and present, and considers why so few of the forests of the world are managed. He then examines the human impact on forests, from slash-and-burn activities to the accelerating assault on tropical forests. He describes and assesses the current state of the world's forests and considers the issues of forest ecology in both the developed and developing world. Jack Westoby concludes with a critique of current Western development policies for the future of forests, and puts forward a programme that would take account of the scientific, cultural and economic needs of present and future generations.
Jack Westoby died in 1988, shortly after completing this book. It is expected that an Educational Trust will be set up which will receive all royalties from his writings, and which will be based at: The Oxford Forestry Institute, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB.