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Exploring Environmental History

Selected Essays

T. C. Smout

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This volume, newly available in paperback, brings together the best of T. C. Smout's recent articles and contributions to books and journals on the topic of environmental history and offers them as a collection of 'explorations'. The author's interests are multi-faceted and, though often focussed on post-1600 Scotland, by no means restricted to that area.


List of Maps, Figures and Tables
List of Illustrations
Chapter One: The Environmental Historiography of Britain
Chapter Two: The Highlands and the Roots of Green Consciousness
Chapter Three: Exploiting Scottish Semi-natural Woods, 1600-1990
Chapter Four: The Pinewoods and Human Use, 1600-1900
Chapter Five: The Atlantic Oakwoods as a Commercial Crop in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Chapter Six: Bogs and People in Scotland since 1600
Chapter Seven: Energy Rich, Energy Poor: Scotland, Ireland and Iceland, 1600-1800
Chapter Eight: Improvers and the Scottish Environment: Soils, Bogs and Woods
Chapter Nine: Trees as Historic Landscapes: from Wallace's Oak to Reforesting Scotland
Chapter Ten: The Alien Species in Twentieth-Century Britain: Inventing a New Vermin
Chapter Eleven: Modern Agriculture and the Decline of British Biodiversity
Chapter Twelve: History, Nature and Culture in British Nature Conservation
Chapter Thirteen: Environmental Consciousness
Select Bibliography.

About the Author

T. C. Smout is Historiographer Royal in Scotland.


In the growing debate over future environmental choices, these essays constitute a powerful corrective to the extremes on both sides.
- Richard Oram, University of Stirling , Scottish Historical Review
Good, scholarly and accessible environmental history like this does carry with it empowerment, vision and the very necessary context (that Nature, like us, has a history) that can only benefit those charged in society and politics with planning our future. I will certainly be encouraging my undergraduate and postgraduate environmental history students to dip intothis book: they are after all (whether they welcome it or not!) the next environmental generation.
- Rod Lambert, Landscape History
Exploring Environmental History is a collection of essays and papers which distil the professor's latter-day researches and reflections. They are characteristically acute and uncompromising.
- Roger Hutchinson, Scottish Review of Books
Christopher Smout is, in my opinion, the best environmental historian in Britain; indeed, he practically invented the term. He is worth being read by every conservationist, not just for his specialist knowledge, but also because he is extremely readable. It ought to be a commonplace view that, as he asserts, environmental problems can be understood properly only from a historical perspective.
- Peter Marren, British Wildlife
That the book should end with provoking thought in its readers cannot be anything but good and reinforces our sense of gratitude that these essays should exist and that the publishers should bring them all together.
- Ian Simmons, Emeritus Professor, University of Durham, Environment and History
The modest title of this book gives little idea of the excitements that lie within... This is a memorable book, rich in scholarship and full of argument, and elegantly written... the brilliance of the essays must make 'Exploring Environmental History' a thoroughly worthwhile purchase or gift.
- Paul Ramsey, Recorder News