Saturday 7 July 2012

Book Review: Caledonia Scotland's Heart of Pine by Peter Cairns & Niall Benvie

This is a beautiful and important book. I first saw it last summer and thought then I must read it but it wasn't until a month or so ago that I actually bought a copy. I wish I'd done so sooner. The book is a description in words and pictures of the native forests of Scotland and a well-argued and impassioned plea for their conservation and restoration. The photographs, by Peter Cairns, are atmospheric, inspiring and artistic. Very well reproduced they cover everything from wide landscapes to details of plants and animals. They reveal a magnificent and wild forest that is complex and intriguing.

Niall Benvie's words conjure up the remnant forest well (little now remains) and cover the history and natural history plus the need for conserving and expanding Scotland's woodland. There is much information here and this is a book I will refer to again and again. The book finishes with a look at various estates where forest restoration is underway and wildness is returning. Caledonia is published by Northshots and costs £20.

I'll finish with a wise and apposite quotation from the book:

"What a mark for progress it would be if we came to value landscapes like this as much as we do economic growth, and that they didn't always come off second best when the chips are down".

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