Ancient Forests

David Middleton, Author
David Middleton, Author Chronicle Books $18.95 (108p) ISBN 978-0-87701-814-8
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
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Middleton, a photographer and freelance writer, offers a feast of colorful, informative scenes from the endangered old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. These forests are hundreds of years old and include massive redwood, Sitka spruce and Douglas fir trees. The striking photographs aim less to thrill than to enlighten the reader about the forest's complex ecosystem: dead trees are just as important as live ones, allowing light to penetrate so young trees can grow, and all varieties of life, from fungi to insects, birds and bobcat, have their place. The northern spotted owl, Middleton writes, ``has unwittingly become the surrogate for the old-growth forest,'' because its status as a threatened species led to calls for forest protection. Middleton's three-chapter text could be more comprehensive and sometimes blends awkwardly with the photographs, but it ultimately contributes to a gently persuasive book. Though acknowledging the importance of the logging industry, Middleton argues that the most economical way to produce wood, known as clear-cutting, shouldn't overshadow ``the ecological, recreational, spiritual, and emotional values of the ancient forest.'' (Apr.)
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