‘Grow, protect and celebrate the trees and woods in your community’ is the subtitle for this recent book by Robin Walter, published by Little Toller Books. It captures the author’s belief that now is a particular moment in time for society to redefine its relationship with trees and forests.
Living with Trees is a rather unusual book, combining practical information with inspiring case studies, all with a view to helping people and communities reconnect with trees. Following a foreword by self-confessed tree-lover Dame Judi Dench, a 19-point Manifesto for Trees provided by Common Ground is given early prominence. This covers a lot of the bases although an aspect I thought missing was a call to celebrate the roles of those who care for our forests, whether the private woodland owners who own 73% of Britain’s forests, or our professional foresters and arborists. This is a shame as the topic is well-covered in the main text with a whole section dedicated to ‘Working with Trees’.
The book is split into five main sections covering the origins of our trees, how trees feature in our modern lives, the myriad ways in which we engage with trees (e.g. art, playtime, health and wellbeing etc.), the utility of trees, and a final section looking forward. A huge amount of ground is covered in the book, from the wildwood of old, to the latest thinking about our ‘dash for carbon’, the science of the wood wide web, rewilding in our uplands, agroforestry, nature’s health service, and more. A useful glossary and further reading section is provided.
“We need to restore the web of life — the plants, trees and animals and our place among them”Living with Trees, Robin Walter
I was unsure quite how to approach this cornucopia of silvan meanderings, sometimes gifting us with knowledge, sometimes challenging us to take action. It seemed to equally satisfy a casual lucky-dip as much as a concerted index-led search. Eventually I settled down to the traditional approach of reading the book from beginning to end. While the range of issues and topics covered is enormous, the author’s passion and knowledge for the subject provides a steady compass for anyone even remotely interested in trees.
The author’s passion and knowledge for the subject provides a steady compass for anyone even remotely interested in trees.
Living with Trees is another quality book produced by Little Toller, full of excellent images, both photographs and artwork. Personally I was not a fan of the small and untidy font used in captions for the interesting thumbnail snippets that are peppered throughout the book, as I found it difficult to read. This is an unfortunate if minor niggle, as these provide fascinating vignettes into art, history and science topics, alongside the main text.
Living Woods deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone with an existing passion for trees, or indeed for anyone who cares about the future of the natural world and sustainable society.
All proceeds of sales from this book are being donated to the environmental charity Common Ground.
Publisher: Little Toller Books
Publish Date: 2 November 2020
Where to buy Living with Trees
Buy direct from the publisher Little Toller Books