A Different Kind of Field Guide

Forest Forensics, the new book by ES core faculty member, Tom Wessels, is the field guide that curious-minded forest detectives have been looking for. Throughout New England the landscape has an amazing story to tell, a story of glaciation, forest growth, human activity, natural disturbance, and regrowth.

The evidence is out there to be read by anyone with the curiosity and an observant eye. Have you ever wondered why a stone wall is running through a forested area and what it could tell you?

Tom introduced the idea of interpreting the evidence, like stone walls in a forest, in his first book, Reading the Forested Landscape. He gave us the information we needed to examine the evidence and ponder what it could mean.

Forest Forensics is the field guide version to Reading the Forested Landscape; it is the key to the clues that will reveal to you a story of change over time.

In this book, Tom provides the reader with the actual search images for the evidence. He starts with a story of attempting to interpret some very unusual stonework discovered in the Green Mountain National Forest. A Stonehenge arrangement of rock that is unusual indeed. He describes how the interpretation could go by making simple observations in a systematic manner to piece together the story. He then describes how to use the dichotomous key that will allow readers to unravel the disturbance history of a site both natural and shaped by humans.

More than a hundred pages of colorful photographs give the reader solid examples of evidence needed to interpret the landscape. Short essays (primers), quick-reference charts, and a glossary aid the reader in the task of understanding and interpreting the evidence. This book is the ideal, must-have companion to Reading the Forested Landscape. Since it has the answers that we have asked and trained our students to search for, we can now expect deeper and more accurate interpretations from them, right?

This story is an excerpt from AUNE’s Notes alumni magazine. Read the entire issue here.

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