The Social Lives of Forests: Past, Present, and Future of Woodland Resurgence

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Deforestation was one of the defining features of the late 20th century, but forest recovery is one of the surprising dynamics of the 21st. New research in ecology, geography, anthropology, archaeology and history are recasting received ideas about the pasts of forests, how people used and shaped them, and the implications of this complex environmental history for understanding how forested landscapes unfold today. This innovative collection draws together distinguished analysts from all over the world, and from the natural and social sciences to reflect on forests past, present and future. The authors illuminate the interactions between humans and landscapes in the creation of forests as both human artifact and habitat -- and emphasize that forest landscapes incarnate social as well as biotic processes. They clarify the importance of ideologies and iconography of forests, imagined and actual histories, institutional arrangements, competing knowledge systems and economic structures in shaping how we understand the "natures" of forests and how these now inform our woodland practices and politics. Current trends reveal surprising new forest frontiers in urban and agricultural contexts, in deforested "sacrifice" zones like the Sahel and El Salvador. The forest landscapes we think of today as empty, wild, and "natural" often have humanized "pre-histories" that are often less far in the past than we imagine with political, institutional and violence shaping the transitions that underpin them. This collection provides an overview of the complexities, trajectories and surprising socio-natures of forested ecosystems.

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