Shades of Green: An Environmental and Cultural History of Sitka Spruce [Paperback]

Ruth Tittensor (Author)

ISBN: 9781909686779 | Published by: Windgather Press | Year of Publication: 2016 | Language: English 375p, H246 x W185 (mm)

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Shades of Green


Sitka spruce has contributed to the Pacific Coast landscapes of North America for over ten millennia. For the Tlingit First Nationit is the most important tree in terms of spiritual relationships, art, and products in daily use such as canoes, containers, fish-traps and sweet cakes. Since the late nineteenth century it has also been the most important tree to the timber industry of west coast North America.

This book takes a fresh look at Sitka spruce in Britain and Ireland, explaining the reasons it was introduced and why it became ubiquitous in the archipelagos of north-west Europe.

The historical background to the modern use of Sitka spruce is explored. The lack of cultural reference may explain negative public response when tree-less uplands in the UK and reland were afforested with introduced conifer species, particularly Sitka spruce, following two World Wars. The multi-purpose forestry of today recognises that Sitka spruce is the most important tree to the timber industry and to a public which uses its many products but fails to recognise the link between growing trees and bought goods.

The apparently featureless and wildlife-less Sitka spruce plantations in UK uplands are gradually developing recognisable ecological features. Sitka spruce has the potential to form temperate rainforests this century as well as to produce much-needed goods for society. The major contribution of Sitka spruce to landscapes and livelihoods in western North America is, by contrast, widely accepted. But conserving natural, old-growth forests, sustaining the needs of First Nations, and producing materials for the modern timber industry will be an intricate task.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Most Hated Tree?
Chapter 2 “The Tree From Sitka”
Chapter 3 Origin, Migration and Survival on the Edge
Chapter 4 At Home in North American Rainforests
Chapter 5 Sitka Spruce in the Lives of First Nations
Chapter 6 Prehistoric Lives and Woodlands in Britain and Ireland
Chapter 7 Woodland History and Britain’s Need for Sitka Spruce
Chapter 8 Realisation: New Trees for New Woodlands
Chapter 9 Ships, Surveyors, Scurvy and Spruces
Chapter 10 Journeys and Experiments for Seeds and People
Chapter 11 From Rare Ornamental to Upland Carpet
Chapter 12 Peat: The Final Frontier
Chapter 13 Perceptions
Chapter 14 Contribution to Modern Societies
Chapter 15 Plantation Ecology: Plants and Animals Re-assemble
Chapter 16 Sustainability in North America
Chapter 17 New Temperate Rainforests? Futures in Ireland and Britain

Reviews & Quotes

"This impressive book, by an ecologist and environmental historian, covers a vast range. It is clearly the product of considerable research and is a treasure trove of facts about Sitka spruce. "
Tony Whitehead
Chartered Forester (19/05/2017)

"I certainly recommend this book as suitable for the ‘amateur naturalist’ audience, wishing to come to grips with the Sitka spruce debate in Britain, as well as to forestry, ecology and geography students. There is also a potential audience among ‘ecotourists' setting out for the Pacific Northwest."
Scott McG. Wilson
Quarterly Journal of Forestry (30/07/2018)

"...not only scholarly but wonderfully accessible, totally engaging, and a joy to read… "Boring old Sitka" is shown to be anything but boring."
Gavin Strachan
Scottish Forestry

"Ruth Tittensor... has done a remarkable job in refuting much of the ill-informed and misguided comment about this species which one commonly encounters.This is a timely publication and one that should be read by anyone interested in the countryside, be they conservationists, foresters, landowners and planners."
John McLoughlin
Irish Forestry (04/01/2017)

"The book is well written in clear, scientific but accessible language useful for all studying the tree or those looking for conceptual approaches in looking at larger ecological and cultural patterns. The book’s strong point definitely lies in its approach, the fact that it covers and blends many topics—Tittensor can relate Sitka spruce to just about anything!"
Charles Wagner, Economic Botany
Economic Botany (02/05/2017)

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