Exploring Environmental History is the podcast about human societies and the environment in the past. The monthly programmes feature interviews with people working in the field, reports on conferences and discussions about the use and methods of environmental history.
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.
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. This 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. To learn more about this book, this episode features an interview with the author.
Music credits: Lark in the Morning. The Atholl Highlanders by Slainte and Scotland the Brave by Shake That Little Foot.
Around the world, rural landscapes have been transformed by human activity as never before. In England, one of the most striking locations of such anthropogenic changes is Kielder Forest and Water in Northumberland. Since the 1920s, this site has seen a massive tree planting effort, creating one of the largest man-made forests in Western Europe. During the 1970s a large dam and reservoir were constructed at Kielder in order to create a secure water supply for the industries at Teeside. As a result Kielder has witnessed significant and dramatic environmental changes over the course of the twentieth century, as it was transformed from a pastoral agricultural landscape, to that of a commercial forest and finally it received the addition of a large man-made lake. To tease out how people have experienced and perceived the man-made environment of Kielder, the Kielder Oral History Project was conducted. On this episode of the podcast, the two researchers carried out the Kielder Oral History project, Professor David Moon of the University of York and Dr Leona Skelton of Durham University, will discuss some of their findings.
Music credits: Memories of an Old Dog by Fireproof_Babies, Where You Are Now by Zapac.
Before the arrival of Europeans and their agriculture, Australian ducks only had to compete with other native birds and animals, as well as Aboriginal hunters. However, the introduction of water intensive agricultural activity by Europeans changed all this and in particular rice cultivation has altered most river systems in Australia, and as a result the habitat for ducks. The guest on this episode of the Exploring Environmental History podcast is Emily OGorman, an Associate Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research of the University of Wollongong. She is an expert on Australian flooding and river history and examines on this podcast the ways in which ducks as well as people negotiated the changing water landscapes of the Murrumbidgee River caused by the creation of rice paddies.
In the modern urbanized world it is often forgotten that throughout history humans have been very dependent on animals for their survival and livelihoods. Until recently most humans in the developed world share their cities with animals, in particular those that provided transport or energy for all kinds of labour. Most obvious of these are horses and donkeys. But none of these animals has such as long symbiotic history with humans as dogs. Today, most dogs in the developed world are kept as pets. However, urban dogs have also been economically as well as culturally important. The history of urban dogs is a story that has hardly been told. This was also noticed by Chris Pearson, Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool in the UK, and he is working on a research project entitled Canine City: Dogs, Humans, and the Making of Modern Paris. In this episode of the podcast Dr. Pearson talks about this project and the role of dogs in modern urban history.