Juliet Wilson's Reviews > A Year In The Woods: The Diary Of A Forest Ranger

A Year In The Woods by Colin Elford
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Nov 10, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: nature
Read in November, 2010

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on "green" books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

A Year in the Woods by Colin Elford is published by Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin Books) on paper certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. You can read more about Penguin's commitment to the environment here. The book is a lovely looking hardback in a smallish format with the pages printed on a nice paper.

The book is a diary of Elford's working life as a forest ranger on the Dorset / Wiltshire border. It appealed to me because of my voluntary work with the Water of Leith Conservation Trust where once a week I patrol an area of woodland along the river, recording wildlife, picking litter and keeping an eye out for pollution and other issues. Of course Elford's work is much more demanding and seems to take over his whole life, he is often found working late into the night or setting out before dawn into the forest. His tasks are also more wide ranging than I undertake as a volunteer, in fact one of his main tasks is to cull deer. In fact this leads to my one complaint about the book. Too much emphasis on the shooting! I definitely got the feeling that the book is aimed at the outdoor sports fan rather than the naturalist. I understand the need for culling populations of deer, they have no natural predators in the UK since we wiped out all the big carnivores that used to roam our countryside. However, I felt that the narrative could have been a bit less biased towards the hunting.

Having said that the book is fascinating. Elford obviously knows his patch of woodland intimately and makes wonderfully detailed observations of the natural wonders around him.

Bobbing and swerving, the owl heads over some young pine. While one crow carries on the chase, the other soars skywards, then suddenly and violently stoops at the tawny; the owl crumples like an airborne mass of feathers, the force pushing the bird deep into the pine tops, causing a massive burst of pine pollen.

It's the detail of the burst of pine pollen that is so interesting here, how many of us would notice that or recognise it for what it is?

This book gives a fascinating and personal insight into how our forests (and deer populations) are managed.

Disclaimer - I received a free copy of this book as part of the Green Books Campaign.
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