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Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape [Paperback]

by Tom Wessels
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 20, 2010 0881509183 978-0881509182 1

Take some of the mystery out of a walk in the woods with this new ?eld guide from the author of Reading the Forested Landscape.

Thousands of readers have had their experience of being in a forest changed forever by reading Tom Wessels’s Reading the Forested Landscape. Was this forest once farmland? Was it logged in the past? Was there ever a major catastrophe like a fire or a wind storm that brought trees down?

Now Wessels takes that wonderful ability to discern much of the history of the forest from visual clues and boils it all down to a manageable field guide that you can take out to the woods and use to start playing forest detective yourself. Wessels has created a key—a fascinating series of either/or questions—to guide you through the process of analyzing what you see. You’ll feel like a woodland Sherlock Holmes. No walk in the woods will ever be the same. 50 color photographs

Frequently Bought Together

Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape + Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England + Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast
Price for all three: $46.48

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (September 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881509183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881509182
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forest Forensics November 7, 2010
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.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the 10.35 ounces in my pack April 11, 2011
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. Read more ›
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read January 24, 2011
By Paul
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual Presentation April 19, 2011
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pocket Guide to Reading the Past October 19, 2011
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Naturalist and hiker loves this book
I bought this book as a gift and the recipient was very pleased with it. Good photos and helpful information.
Published 3 months ago by QueenB
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I bought copies for each of my adult daughters. They love to hike and this sets up a way of puzzling through what you are seeing in the woods and uncovering the history in front of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Katie Olmstead
4.0 out of 5 stars This is for the Northeast USA!
Ok, so maybe I didn't read the information bit to the full extent, and perhaps I overlooked the part on the book being based on the Northeastern USA, but it doesn't do me much good... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Raandall
5.0 out of 5 stars Forest Forensics
This is intended as a companion book to Reading The Forested Landscape (which we have). Both are indispensable books for NEW ENGLANDERS.
Published 3 months ago by ecolbeck
3.0 out of 5 stars forest walking primer
This is an interesting book I will be using while hiking. It is aimed at the novice, so a little below my level, but it does have some interesting ideas.
Published 5 months ago by RB
5.0 out of 5 stars Great topic
Something you just don't always think about when considering nature books on the forest and trees. This should be in any ones set of nature books.
Published 6 months ago by Richard Draham
5.0 out of 5 stars Forest Forensics Field Guide
I always wondered about certain topographical areas that I hike through
and this manual explains it all. I'm very pleased with this book. Very precise
and to the point. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Late Nite Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Learned a lot.
I have observed many of the items discussed in the book, but never was able to make the connections. Read more
Published 7 months ago by David A. Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and useful guide
Interesting book for people who are curious about the woods and have time to look multiple times at the same forest. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Charles Klinefelter
5.0 out of 5 stars Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape.
The Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape is an excellent resource for people who live in areas with second or third growth forests. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Barb
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