Review published on March 3, 2018.
When you think of the National Trust, what comes to mind is the fine mansions houses and grand estates or the swathes of coastline that they are now custodians for. Under their protection are a wide variety of landscapes, from moor to heathland, farmland to mountains, ancient sites and what is the focus of this book, woodlands. In fact, 60,000 acres in total on the land that they are responsible for, from ancient woodlands that contain some of the oldest living things in our country to forests that were the playgrounds of royalty.
Sadly, woodland cover at just over 12% in the UK is the lowest it has ever been and we have one of the lowest in Europe too, with both France and Germany being around 30%, but most are trailing in the wake of Finland as that country has over 70% cover. That said, we have some of the oldest lived trees in Europe and the National Trust among others is custodian to some of our finest woodlands.
In this sumptuous coffee table book, Robert Penn tells the history of the woods and forests that the National Trust cares for. The book follows season by season showing the transformation from the skeletal outlines of the trees in winter to the rich colours of autumn. Penn’s prose is short and to the point, as he weaves history, folklore, natural history and the future of our woodlands as well as talking about some of our most famous forests in the country as well as the lesser-known ones. into very readable prose. What makes this book though is that it is full of the stunning photographs of woodlands and trees and the other creatures that inhabit some of our most treasured of places.
Paul Cheney 4/3
Woods: A Celebration by Robert Penn
National Trust 9781911358114 hbk Sep 2017