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Forest Forensics: A Field Guide To Reading The Forested Landscape Paperback – Aug 24 2010

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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  • Forest Forensics: A Field Guide To Reading The Forested Landscape
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: The Countryman Press (Aug. 24 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881509183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881509182
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Tom Wessels is an ecologist and the author of Reading the Forested Landscape and Forest Forensics. He is the director of the Environmental Biology program at Antioch New England Graduate School.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kindle is not a good format for this book. It might be excellent as a paperback you could take with you into the woods, flipping back and forth between various references.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 50 reviews
61 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forest Forensics Nov. 7 2010
By Marlowe Sand - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Forest forensics is CSI meets AMC. This is wonderful book, if you live in the northeastern US or Canada and spend time in the outdoors. You will come to see the landscape around you in a whole new way - to read the history of the impacts of hurricanes, farming, logging etc. The book has clear descriptions tied to beautiful color plates, so you understand exactly what he's talking about. For example, only large rocks in rock wall indicate that the adjoining land was a hay field, small rocks indicate regular crop cultivation which causes small rocks to surface. Upon first read, even before you take to the field, you will begin to say "Ah ha", as you recall seeing various forms of rock fences, tree forms, or stumps. Not only does he help you read the events of the past, but date them. This book is very accessible and just plain fun. And best of all, while this book helps you answer lots of questions, your observations will reveal a new level of subtly and leave you with even more questions. If you enjoy the woods, whether kayaker, backpacker, weekend hiker or skier, buy this book. You will see the world around you in a new way.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the 10.35 ounces in my pack April 11 2011
By Nahant Rocks - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked the two other books I have by Tom Wessels (Reading the Forested Landscape; The Granite Landscape) and thought I would try this one. It's a small book but the coated paper adds weight for the 160 pages. The weight is not a major issue for me but probably would be for long-distance hikers. There are 64 single page photos and 19 photos across 2 facing pages. Photo quality is just fine to very good in nearly all cases. Only two photos didn't work well for me - 4A2 Plow trough adjacent to stone wall, where the break in slope you're supposed to notice unfortunately falls directly in the gutter between the two facing pages, and 5A1 Subtly pillowed and cradled ground - it just looked like pretty flat and featureless ground in this photo, covered with pine needles and oak leaves. It is not easy to photograph subtle landscape features in forest light and shade, so to have issues with only 2 photos in over 80 is not strong criticism. An earlier reviewer was offended by the observation that a flat-topped stump suggests the area was logged. That's a real example certainly, and while there are also more subtle points raised, focusing on them misses the main value of the book to me. It is rare that someone with Tom Wessel's experience in landscape interpretation (or anything else) provides people without that background with the opportunity to participate in his thought process, by sharing publicly what observations he thinks are important, and what his decision-tree logic looks like as he thinks his way through the evidence to answer such questions as what happened, in what order, and when, in an area that is now forest. The heart of the book is in a 7-page section at the beginning, outlining observations/evidence related to Agriculture; Old Growth and Wind; and Logging and Fire evidence. The photographs and brief text are designed to clarify points made in the decision tree statements. You don't need a PhD in forest ecology to use this book, and if you had one you might find it overly simple but as a geologist, it works for me. I found myself saying "aha" as I looked through the photos - thinking of one example after another that I've seen in New England woods over the past 50+ years. His observations about sheep's wool being thick enough to keep them from feeling the barbs in barbed wire fences even helped explain why our bus driver in southern Iceland had to pull over one afternoon a few summers ago and go running back up the road, to untangle a sheep that was caught halfway through the fence along the highway.

I think it's a deceptively simple book, and one that I'm glad to have. I recently met someone who teaches at an environmental school in Jackson Hole, who had studied with Tom Wessels. She confirmed my sense that he would be a great person to spend time in the field with. Until that ever happens, the Forest Forensics book will have to stand in.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read Jan. 24 2011
By Paul - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little volume was of interest as an addition to my personal naturalist library. It was a bit more focused on New England than I anticipated which limits its value here in the Blue Ridge but the general principles are of value.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pocket Guide to Reading the Past Oct. 19 2011
By Patterson P. Patrick - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a take along pocket sized guide for walking. Based on information presented in "Reading the Forested Landscape, a Natural History of New England". These books are amazing in that they point out information left by previous natural events and humans. If a tree falls and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a noise? Yes, and what it says is so simply explained by Wessels. If you have always wanted to know "The Big Picture", here is the first step into understanding. Enjoy... this is a one of a kind book that applies well to anywhere under the sun.

Examples include explinations of the differences between a tree fall caused by wind blow over (thunderstorm, tornado, straight line winds,etc.) , snow loading, dead tree rot, logging and fire kill. Great detail on the differences of tree rotting of pine, cedar, oak, maple, hickory, elm, chestnut. Simple discussion on fence type and wall construction. The hows and whys of early agriculture.
I do suggest strongly to buy both books. Both present new information when used together will guide you into a new world filled with the past.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual Presentation April 19 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is visual guide to understanding the landscape of forests in New England. Wessels, an author and college professor, has a long-standing interest in forested landscapes. In a previous book, "Reading the Forested Landscape", Wessels explained how forested landscapes are filled with clues that point to prior land-use history, storms, or fires. In this book, Wessels provides a collection of photographs which illustrate the clues to reading forested landscapes, as well as a key that can be used to interpret the details of what is seen. The book begins with a short introduction and the key, then there are 70 pages of color plates, followed by additional illustrated discussion. The keys and clues are summarized on quick-reference charts at the end of the book, and technical terms are explained in a glossary.

I found this book quite clear and useful. The color photographs and accompanying discussion illustrate Wessel's points very well. The key is easy to follow and unambiguous. The book is very much tied to the landscape and forested history of New England--it would be interesting to see which of Wessels' clues might apply to forests in other parts of the country or world. Overall, this is an excellent reference for woods walkers.