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Title: Forest Ecology and Conservation: a handbook of techniques
Author(s): Adrian C Newton
Date of Publication: 2007 Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages:xvi + 453 ISBN: 978 0 19 856744 8
Price: Format:Hardcover
Target Readership Educator







Content: 1 – Introduction; 2 - Forest extent and condition; 3 - Forest structure and composition; 4 - Understanding forest dynamics; 5 - Modelling forest dynamics; 6- Reproductive ecology and genetic variation; 7 - Forest as habitat; 8 - Towards effective forest conservation.

Review: There is a need to gather syntheses of research so that others may gain an understanding of how the field is developing. This is especially true of conservation where techniques are often not well written down or are to be found in disparate publications. Such work is increasingly important given the pressures to conserve. This is recognised by the Oxford 'Techniques in Ecology and Conservation Series' of which this book is one of the latest publications.

The aim is to describe the key techniques and how they can be applied. However, as is made very clear at the start, conservation is more than just technique - there is a need to put it into context and the 'sell' the idea to interested stakeholders. This idea is the focus of chapter one which both outlines the book's objectives and shows how research must be planned not just for relevance at the scientific level but also at the policy and people level. If the aim of conservation ecology is to understand location (pattern) and ecosystem function and dynamic (process) then chapter two is an overview of techniques dealing with the former. Starting with the older more obvious aerial survey, the chapter continues to examine critically, satellite and GIS methodologies. Also in terms of pattern, chapter three considers the vertical and species patterns of forests. Again, a range of methods are critiqued starting with a useful overview of the theory and practice of sampling and continuing with age methods, species diversity and the use of statistical analysis. Chapter four starts the move towards forest processes with an examination of dynamics. There's a brief discussion of the key concepts which focusses on ideas of disturbance and gaps, tree growth characteristics and seed banks. Data need to be analysed and so chapter five turns to look at how data gathered can be treated. The more obvious methods e.g. growth and yield tables are mentioned alongside life tables and a range of adapted ecological models. Chapter six deals with the less common area of reproduction - the rate of tree replacement. Often this is an area that has received less attention and so it is useful to see it here as it adds logically to the work preceding; the reader gets an overview of all areas of forest ecology. Chapter seven turns towards forest as home and a range of techniques that can be used to assess the wildlife potential of a woodland. A final chapter departs from the previous studies and harks back to the introduction as it puts a case for using research techniques as part of the larger conservation picture.

Although this is one of the more specialised areas of ecology it has much to offer the more general reader. It gives an excellent critique of the main field techniques. As important, if not more so in this context, it provides a framework within which these techniques need to work if we are to conserve, on a scientific basis, forest and woodland. The need to present data to non-specialists is always present as a useful reminder to those who produce it. This book will appeal most to those in field centres looking for more advanced work for students and those teaching wildlife conservation courses where the arguments for relevant fieldwork are important.





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