The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods

The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods

by Robert Llewellyn, Joan Maloof


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604697124
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/04/2017
Pages: 266
Sales rank: 331,335
Product dimensions: 11.10(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Robert Llewellyn has been photographing plants and landscapes for almost 40 years. His photographs have been featured in major art exhibits, and more than 30 books featuring his photography are in print. His 2007 book Empires of the Forest won five national awards in nonfiction and photography and The Capital was an official diplomatic gift of the White House and State Department.

Joan Maloof is a scientist, writer, and the founder and director of the Old-Growth Forest network, a nonprofit organization creating a network of forests across the US that will remain forever unlogged and open to the public. She studied plant science at the University of Delaware, environmental science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and ecology at the University of Maryland College Park. 

Read an Excerpt

It is our intention that this book be a reminder that the living part of our planet, the biosphere, is just a thin and lovely membrane. We have harmed much of this membrane, but because it is alive it has the ability to heal. Here we celebrate the part of the biosphere known as the temperate deciduous forest, and all the life it contains. It is our wish that increased understanding will provide motivation for allowing the forest to continue unimpeded on its wild trajectory.

Although the photographs on these pages are stunningly beautiful and we can witness such views, it’s impossible to really see the whole of a forest. A forest is a complex web of energy and matter that reaches far beyond the confines of identified acreages. Much of what a forest does, and is, is invisible and can never be captured by the camera. At other times, the energy and the matter align on the scale of human perception and we see: oh, a blossom, a salamander, a mushroom, a bear! All amazing, all wonders to be studied forever and, even then, to be felt more than fully understood. Take any one of these photographic images and spend some time with it, and you will understand what the poet William Blake meant about seeing “the world in a grain of sand.” These nodes of matter show us the never-ending flow of energy right here, right this moment. And the shutter clicks.

The pen is slower, but it can include a bit more of the intersections. It can tell of strand pulling strand in the web of life. It can hint at the dimension of time.

And then, finally, beyond the camera and the pen is the energy and matter that you, reader, bring to the equation. For aer you douse yourself in the images and the words, you must go a step beyond and add the dimension of experience. It is only then that you will truly start seeing the forest. And the forest will see you, too. There are plenty of eyes in these photos and, as you will read here, even the eyeless trees sense your light.

But how do we organize this discussion of a place where everything is happening at once? We chose to start with the largest bones, the trees—the living structures that define a forest—and to move from the canopy to the ground. There is much life in the canopy, but primarily it is a surface for catching light—the source of energy that powers the entire forest.

Trees are creators of rain. And many forest creatures depend on the water held in and released by the forest. So we look closely at that.

As we move through the forest, and through these pages, we witness animals that are wholly dependent on the habitat created by the towering trees even though they will never have the experience of being in the top of one. Other animals use the trunks as highways, and their movements may reach from the ground to the treetops. Given the size and upright posture of humans, the sight of tree trunks is the most common way we experience the forest, too.

We must also consider the invisible fourth dimension of time in order to truly understand a forest. Tree chapters capture how a forest changes throughout the year: from fall’s spectacle to winter’s silence, from spring’s emergence to summer’s ripeness.

Next, and perhaps most important, we take a peek at the forest parts that are intimately intertwined with the soil. This is the (mostly) underground life of the forest—roots and fungi.

While we’re down there, we take a close look at the primitive plants. They will never make buds or flowers or fruit, but they are the green ones we always associate with the forest: moss and fern, playground of the faeries.

And finally, no discussion of the forest is complete without acknowledging how the forest makes us feel. Few words do justice to those feelings, so Llewellyn’s images stand alone at the end to convey a most precious resource provided by forests.

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