Tag: Jan Oosthoek (page 1 of 2)

Some thoughts on trees, documents and digital technology

How can digital technology unlock the secrets of an arboretum and make it available to a wide audience? That was one of the main questions of the keynote talk by Jennifer Gardner, curator of the Waite Arboretum at the University of Adelaide, opening the 9th conference of the Australian Forest History Society (AFHS).

In 1928 the arboretum was established on land that was given by Peter Waite (1834-1922), pastoralist and benefactor, to the University of Adelaide. Over time the collection of the arboretum evolved into a valuable resource for teaching, research and a bank of genetic plant and tree material. The collection has been meticulously documented and in the 1980s the handwritten system cards were transferred into a computer database. Continue reading

Podcast 68: Religion and the Origins of American Environmentalism

The Oxbow

Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow (1836). The New England landscape that inspired Calvinist and Puritan ideals about landscape, a scientific world view and moral notions about use of the land. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Ever since Lynn White’s 1967 essay on “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”, it is common to read in many publications that Christianity is both too anthropocentric and not much concerned with the protection of nature and the environment. Subsequently the environmental movement has developed along very secular lines using science to underpin their arguments for the protection of nature and the environment. For religion there seems no place amongst modern environmentalists. But in in the late 19th century and early 20th century this was quite different and early American conservationists were often deeply religious but had no difficulties in combining this with new scientific ideas about nature. A recent book entitled Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism shows that religion provided early environmentalists both with deeply embedded moral and cultural ways of viewing the natural world which provided them with the direction, and tone for the environmental causes they advocated. It reveals how religious upbringing left its distinctive imprint on the life, work, and activism of a wide range of environmental figures such as George Perkins Marsh, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, E. O. Wilson, and others.

This podcast episode explores the history of conservation and religion in America with Mark Stoll, Associate Professor of History at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas. He is the author of Inherit the Holy Mountain.

 

Further reading and resources

Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism, Oxford University Press, 2015

Mark Stoll, “Rachel Carson: The Presbyterian Genesis of a Nature Writer,” in: Nicolaas Rupke, ed., Eminent Lives in Twentieth-Century Science and Religion, 2nd rev. and much exp. ed. (New York: Peter Lang, 2009)

Mark Stoll, “Creating Ecology: Protestants and the Moral Community of Creation,” in: David M. Lodge and Christopher S. Hamlin, eds., Religion and the New Ecology: Environmental Responsibility in a World in Flux (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006)

Lynn White Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”, Science, New Series, Vol. 155, No. 3767 (Mar. 10, 1967), 1203-1207

Stephen Fox, The American Conservation Movement: John Muir and His Legacy (Boston: Little, Brown, 1981).

Brian Donahue, The great meadow: farmers and the land in colonial Concord (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004)

Carolyn Merchant, Ecological revolutions: nature, gender, and science in New England (Chaper Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2nd. Ed. 2010)

Website Mark Stoll

Faculty page Mark Stoll, including information on previously published books.

Read Dan Allosso’s review of the podcast episode.
 
Music credits
Where You Are Now” by Zapac, available from ccMixter

On the Threshold” by Stefan Kartenberg from ccMixter

Nature vs. culture or cultured nature?

Yosemite

Scenic landscape of Yosemite Valley. Source: Wikimedia Commons

When most people think of national parks they think of famous examples such as Yellow Stone and Yosemite in the United States or the Serengeti in Tanzania. These parks are large in scale with an emphasis on wild life conservation and the preservation of scenic landscapes.1 Human activity and presence is restricted and regulated and people are mainly visitors. This does not imply that the nature in these places has been untouched by humans. In Yosemite for example there was farming in the past and the management of he park is far from passive. The question is not wether untouched  nature is good and anthropocentric influence on natural systems is less desirable.2  The question is wether we would like to protect nature for the sake of nature or for the benefit of ourselves and other species. It is a question of grades of human interference and impact not one of untouched nature.

In recent years discussions of how to protect nature has been intensified with the debate surrounding the rewilding of landscapes outside of these national parks and some have propose to give more space to nature and restrict human activity.3 A new take on this debate will come from famous biologist E.O. Wilson  in a forthcoming book which proposes to set half of the land surface of the earth apart for wildlife. Unlike some others his take on rewilding is anthropocentric and he does not want exclude people from nature but regards them as an integral part of it.4 This sounds all quite novel but the reality is that in many countries nature conservation and human activity have never been separated like in Yosemite or the Serengeti. Continue reading

Podcast 51: The Scottish forestry experience and the development of forestry in India

Since at least the 18th century Scotland has been the centre of forestry knowledge in Britain. Many foresters and botanists trained on Scottish estates went into the colonial service in during the 19th century and what they brought with them was a unique set of forestry skills. This paper examines the influence of Scottish foresters on the development of empire forestry in British India. Scottish-trained foresters aided the adaptation of continental forestry models, mainly German and French, to the Indian conditions, drawing on their experience gained in Scotland. Returning from their service in India they went on to advocate the creation of a forestry service in Scotland, which resonated with landowners who believed that forestry would make the Highlands more productive.

This podcast is the registration of a seminar talk given by Jan Oosthoek in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, 22 March 2013.

Music credit
Where You Are Now” by Zapac Available from ccMixter

 

Podcast 50: Conquering the Highlands. History of the afforestation of the Scottish uplands

Forest plantation

Large forest plantation in the Scottish
Highlands. Photo: Jan Oosthoek

By the end of the nineteenth century, Scotland’s woodlands were reduced to about six per cent of land cover. Over the course of the twentieth century, foresters worked to establish timber reserves in the Scottish Highlands, creating forests on marginal lands that were not easily adapted to forestry following millennia of deforestation. Using a variety of techniques and strategies drawn from modern forestry practices, the Scottish uplands were afforested in the twentieth century, tripling the forest cover. The creation of new forests to serve strategic and economic interests, however, altered the ecology of the Scottish uplands and eventually came into conflict with the interests of environmentalists in the late twentieth century.

Conquering the HiglandsThis fascinating history of the afforestation of the Scottish uplands is explored in a new book by environmental historian Jan Oosthoek called, Conquering the Highlands: A History of the Afforestation of the Scottish Uplands. This episode features an interview with the author Jan Oosthoek of this book and he talks about the largest environmental transformation of the Scottish Highlands in the 20th century.

Links & sites mentioned in the podcast
Download Conquering the Highlands as a free e-book from the ANU Press website.
Buy a print copy of Conquering the Highlands from Amazon.
Nature’s Past podcast

Music credits

Lark in the Morning. The Atholl Highlanders” by Sláinte
Available from freemusicarchive.org

Scotland the Brave” by Shake That Little Foot
Available from freemusicarchive.org

Volcanic Eruptions and European History

On 14 April 2010 the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted for a second time in two month after having been dormant for just under 200 years. The second eruption caused an ash plume that was ejected high into the stratosphere and transported by the wind to Northern and Western Europe. All of a sudden a commercial catastrophe hit Europe and all air traffic was completely shut down. The skies cleared of planes wary of flying through the high-altitude cloud of the volcano’s very corrosive dust which could damage delicate jet engines. As a result thousands of passengers got stranded around the globe. If it had not been for airplanes hardly anyone would have heard of the eruption but now it was front-page news. Continue reading

Podcast 34: Volcanoes in European history

Iceland_volcano0410

The Eyjafjallajökull ash cloud at 06:00 UTC
on 17 April 2010.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

On 14 April 2010 the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted for a second time in two month after having been dormant for just under 200 years. The second eruption caused an ash plume that was ejected into the stratosphere and transported by the wind to Northwest Europe and all air traffic was shut down. As a result the eruption became a major news story. A secondary reason why the eruption became a major news story is the fact that volcanic ash clouds have not affected Europe in such an immediate way in living memory. But looking at the historical record of volcanic eruptions it becomes clear that these events have affected Europe and other parts of the world in significant ways and sometimes even altered the course of history. This extra edition of the Exploring Environmental History podcast considers a small sample of such volcanic event events, including the 536 AD dust veil event, the Black Death and the Laki eruption of 1783.

Resources and further reading
Nature as Historical Protagonist by Bruce M. S. Campbell, The Tawney Memorial Lecture 2008
Watch the lecture online

Gavin Schmidt, 536 AD and all thatRealClimate

L. B. Larsen et.al., “New ice core evidence for a volcanic cause of the A.D. 536 dust veil”, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 35, L04708, 5 PP., 2008.

R. A. Dodgshon, D. D. Gilbertson & J. P. Grattan, “Endemic stress, farming communities and the influence of Icelandic volcanic eruptions in the Scottish Highlands”, Geological Society, London, Special Publications; 2000; v. 171; p. 267-280.

Stephen Self, Icelandic eruptionsopen2.net

Podcast 33: Distance learning environmental history and Scottish forestry

The creation of a conventional classroom based environmental history course is challenging because of the diversity of topics involved. A distance learning course in environmental history delivered trough the Web is even more challenging. This requires a different approach to integrate written material, audio, video, map material and online datasets and to put it in a coherent package to make it relevant to the context of each student. This edition of the podcast features Richard Rodger, Professor in Social and Economic History at the University of Edinburgh, who talks about a new distance learning masters programme in Landscape, Environment and History. This interview is followed by an audio extract from a video lecture about Scottish forest history to illustrate the type of content that the masters programme has on offer. Jan Oosthoek talks in this interview about the importance of land management agencies such as the British Forestry Commission in influencing the appearance, nature and use of the landscape in modern times.

Website mentioned in this podcast
MSc in Landscape, Environment and History – University of Edinburgh (link and MSc programme are no longer active).

Music credit
Piano Sketch 01” by Mario Mattioli
Available from ccMixter

Podcast 25: Environmental history: an applied science

This podcast essay puts environmental history in a theoretical and practical framework and considers why this area of study differs from other flavours of history. It will discuss what the narrative of environmental is and how this is researched illustrated by some practical examples of how environmental historians work. Finally the podcast considers the ethical dimension and the potential pitfalls and advantages of the contemporary importance of environmental history as part of current environmental issues.

This is part four of a four-part series of podcasts investigating the nature, methods and challenges of environmental history.

Music credits
Sand Castle” by Pitx
Kokokur” by Pitx
Ana’s Guitar, Open Window” by Gurdonark
All available from ccMixter

The colonial origins of scientific forestry in Britain

Around 1850 Britain had no forestry service and there was no formal training of foresters. Forestry was still practised in the context of estates mainly owned by the aristocracy and managed by foresters who had learned the traditional management techniques under an apprentice system from their predecessors. British forestry was fragmented, not formalised, and far from centralised during the entire 19th century. Most of the forestry remained concentrated on large privately owned estates, especially in Scotland, where it served the double purpose of ornamental woods and, to a lesser extent, wood production for local use.1The British Government and many landowners did not feel the necessity to increase timber production and introduce modern formalised forestry practices from the continent because the British had direct access to the large timber reserves of their Empire, of Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Importing timber from overseas was much cheaper than to produce it back home in Britain.2  Continue reading

Dutch river defences in historical perspective

After the storm surge flood of 1953 the Dutch water management authorities (Rijkswaterstaat) decided upon an ambitious plan to reinforce and increase the height of all dikes and levies in the Netherlands. This not only included sea defences but also river dikes. The project started in the 1960s but initially only sea defences were reinforced and the river area in the centre of the country was dealt with a few years later. Continue reading

What is Environmental History?

1. Origins

Environmental history is a rather new discipline that came into being during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was a direct consequence of the growing awareness of worldwide environmental problems such as pollution of water and air by pesticides, depletion of the ozone layer and the enhanced greenhouse effect caused by human activity. Continue reading

The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy and Forestry

Introduction

Location of Glen Roy

Location of Glen Roy

Just South of the Great Glen next to Loch Lochy is a valley situated that is world famous among the geography, geomorphology and geology communities in the world. It also takes a signicant place in the history of Science. The name of this valley is Glen Roy and it derives its fame from a geologic phenomenon that is known as the “Parallel Roads”. Today it is one of the lesser known Natural Nature Reserves in Scotland because of its relative isolation and poor access, but in the past it has been a battle ground between conservationists and foresters. This short essay charts its importance and why it became a source of conflict during the 1950s. Continue reading

Industrial water pollution in the Groninger Veenkoloniën, 1850-1980

Introduction

Location of the Ven Colonies.

Location of the Ven Colonies.

In the north of the Netherlands, in the province of Groningen, is an area called ‘De Veenkoloniën’ (The Ven Colonies or Peat Colonies). This area once provided the main energy source of the Dutch Golden Age: peat. During the period between the beginning of 16th trough the start of the 20th century the peat moors were drained and cut away. In the second half of the 19th century the peat in the Veenkoloniën was almost gone1. What remained was a unique landscape dominated by huge fields and straight canals. This landscape formed the foundation for the agricultural industry that emerged in the second half of the 19th century, with potato starch and strawboard as their main products.

The emergence of the agricultural industry in the Groninger Veenkoloniën caused a quite serious problem: one of the worst episodes of industrial water pollution in the Netherlands. This gave the Veenkoloniën the negative image of a region with filthy and stinking canals, being the concern of the industry, government and population for more than a century. Continue reading

A walk through the Forest

This paper on the perceptions of Scottish forestry was presented at a research seminar of the Department of History of the University of Stirling on 24 February 1999. The theme of this seminar was “Environmental History: Interdisciplinarity and Where this Leaves History”. Continue reading

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