As its subtitle implies, the aim of this book is to provide within a relatively small compass an account of the structure of the woodlands and forests of the world, the relationships between the main groupings of organisms which live within them, and a discussion of the significance of plant and animal diversity at both the community and regional level. There is particular emphasis on woodland processes, especially those involving the flow of energy and cycling of nutrients. An attempt has also been made to show how communities dominated by trees, together with their constituent animals and plants, have gradually evolved during geological time.
Foresters and conservationists have of necessity to be far-sighted, and are usually both cheerful and philosophical. While Isaiah 55, v.12 presents a somewhat unusual view of tree behaviour, it does convey a very positive approach, one well suited to the major forest tasks which have to be dealt with in this new century. One function of this book is to provide a background against which foresters, ecologists, land managers and others can view the past and plan for the future. This book, while drawing on previous work, is wherever possible based upon the most recent research, in the hope that those familiar with our other books will find something more of value here. It uses the ecosystem approach and endeavours to show how various organisms, often diverse in space and time, have employed basically similar strategies, sometimes resulting in the repeated evolution of special features that enable them to exploit particular environmental niches.