Understanding Forests

Understanding Forestry Cover copy

“The best introductory guide to forestry practices and the issues surrounding the preservation of American forests.”

– Adam Werbach, President
Sierra Club

Here is an indispensable primer for anyone interested in the survival of North America’s forests. Author John J. Berger provides an accessible introduction to these complex ecosystems, which protect soil and water resources, provide habitat for wildlife, and are essential to climatic stability and biological diversity. Key topics include: How forest ecosystems work; The history of the U.S. Forests Service and controversies surrounding its current management practices; Logging techniques and the threats they pose to forest ecosystems; The principles of sustainable and restoration forestry; The economic, social, and political issues that are critical to forest preservation; Practical information and ideas for those who want to take action to preserve our forests.


“A valuable introduction to the issues surrounding forest ecosystems. U.S. Forest Service management practices, logging techniques, the principles of sustainable and restoration forestry, and the economic and political issues underlying today’s struggle over forestry practices and preservation efforts.”

– Book News, Inc.

“A common sense approach from Sierra Club to forest management. Definitely not an anti-logging book. Promotes a long-term pro-forest viewpoint. Good background reading for those who are interested in examining some of the more complex issues that face forestry companies and environmentalists alike.”

– Northeastern Naturalist, vol. 5, no. 2

Understanding Forests . . . is a vividly written guide to North America’s forests and their complex ecosystems, which protect our soil and water resources and provide a habitat for wildlife. It includes a cogent history of recent controversies surround the U.S. Forest Service’s management of public lands.”

– Judith Wynn
The Boston Herald

Understanding Forests . . . is a very useful book, especially for both the general public and students who have little background in forest ecology and forest public policy and who are bombarded by various industry, and conservationist PR. I certainly recommend your book.”

– Bill Devall, Author and Co-founder
Deep Ecology Movement

“Berger has prepared a small, concise introduction to forest biology that not only treats forestry methods and practices, with ample information about such topics, but also provides a broad overview of the principles of forest ecology, ecosystems dynamics, and conservation. The mix of policy and ecology makes the book particularly thought-provoking. Berger interweaves the practical with the theoretical, and facts with projects and models, to provide a panoramic view of the forests and the paradoxical position of humans with respect to them. It is the human paradox to need forests yet to destroy them that influences policy. Berger approaches policy from an historical and economic perspective and writes in an approachable, jargon-free manner; as a result, nonscientists can follow with little difficulty. One of the most heated topics in forestry-clear-cutting is handled in a balanced way. There are points at which the curious reader will find it necessary to dig into some supplementary reading, particularly on scientific aspects, but the recommended readings are heavily focused on policy. The general reader will find this book enlightening, and it will be useful as a supplement in course work. General readers; lower-division undergraduates.”

– DH. Pfister 
Harvard University