This is a list of books relevant to small woodlands in Great Britain. It ranges from conventional forestry management, woodscraft, and the natural history of trees to American books about rural buildings and their archetypical “cabin in the woods”. The links to Amazon usually take you to more reviews and comments from buyers.
Within each subject area I’ve marked especially useful books with a star and outstanding must-reads with two stars.
|Britain’s tree story by Julian Hight (Amazon)|
|The cabin: inspiration for the classic American getaway by Dale Mulfinger and Susan E. Davis (Amazon)|
|Cabin porn: inspiration for your quiet place somewhere by Zach Klein and Steven Leckart (Amazon)|
|Cabinology: a handbook to your private hideaway by Dale Mulfinger (Amazon)|
|** Caring for small woods by Ken Broad (Amazon)|
|The chainsaw operator’s manual by Bernard Kestel (Amazon)|
|Charcoal and charcoal burning by D.W. Kelley (Amazon)|
|Charcoal production: a handbook by A.C Hollingdale, R. Krishnan, A.P. Robinson (Amazon)|
|Collins Tree Guide by Owen Johnson and David More (Amazon)|
|Ecology of woodlands and forests: description, dynamics, and diversity by Peter A. Thomas (Amazon)|
|* Froissartage: grand jeu dans la nature by Michel Froissart, Vincent Fonlupt, and Dominique Froissart (Amazon)
|The heritage trees of Britain and Northern Ireland by Jon Stokes, Donald Rodger, Archie Miles (Amazon)|
|How to build small barns and outbuildings by Monte Burch (Amazon)|
|* How to build your dream cabin in the woods by J. Wayne Fears (Amazon)|
|Irreplaceable woodlands by Charles Flower (Amazon)|
|* Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv (Amazon)|
|** Making charcoal and biochar: a comprehensive guide by Rebecca Oaks (Amazon)|
|The management of English woodlands (1919) by W.F. Beddoes (Amazon)|
|* Managing native broadleaved woodland by Ralph Harmer and Gary Kerr (Amazon)
Chapter and verse from the Forestry Commission, in 500 pages covering the full breadth of topics in broadleaved woodlands.
|Meetings with remarkable trees by Thomas Pakenham (Amazon)|
|The new sylva: a discourse of forest and orchard trees for the twenty-first century by Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet (Amazon)|
|* Norwegian wood by Lars Mytting and Robert Ferguson (Amazon)|
|Practical pole building construction: with plans for barns, cabins, and outbuildings by Leigh Seddon (Amazon)|
|* Rustic retreats: a build-it-yourself guide by David Stiles (Amazon)|
|** Sanitation without water by Uno Winblad Wen Kilama (Amazon)
If you needed to build a toilet block for a remote village in Africa that would keep working for years, this is the book you’d need. The principles and designs it includes will take care of your needs in a small British woodland too.
|The secret life of trees: how they live and why they matter by Colin Tudge (Amazon)|
|** Shelters, shacks and shanties: the classic guide to building wilderness shelters by D.C. Beard. (Amazon)
I’ve written a short review of this remarkable book from 1914, full of structures built with nothing more than axes and knives.
|Sylva: a discourse of forest trees and the propagation of timber (1664) by John Evelyn (Amazon)|
|Thirty years in Wilderness Wood by Chris Yarrow (Amazon)|
|Treehouses and playhouses you can build by David Stiles and Jeanie Stiles (Amazon)|
|Tricks with trees by Ivan Hicks and Richard Rosenfeld (Amazon)|
|Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Amazon)
Thoreau’s account of living in a cabin in the woods of Massachusetts for 2 years in 1845-7. This is a wonderfully portable hardback edition that fits easily into a good sized coat pocket. Has a properly stitched binding with a ribbon bookmark sown into the spine. This is the edition I carry with me to my wood and that I took with me to Walden Pond.
|Wilding: the return of nature to a British farm by Isabella Tree (Amazon)
An account of how the 3500 acre Knepp Estate abandoned farming and let nature take over, with cattle, ponies, pigs and deer keeping a balance between grassland, scrub and woodland. They are heavily influenced by Frans Vera and his picture of a pre-human past with lots of open space maintained by large herbivores.
|Wildwood: a journey through trees by Roger Deakin (Amazon)|
|The wood fire handbook by Vincent Thurkettle (Amazon)|
|A wood of one’s own by Ruth Pavey (Amazon)
The gardening correspondent of the local paper in Highgate and Hampstead buys a 4 acre wood in Somerset, and uses it for gardening. Planting random flowers etc. Her time at the wood is too precious to spend improving the caravan she camps out in. So naturally she buys a cottage to stay in. Her highly indulgent neighbours steer her towards sensible choices about fencing, drainage etc. Julian Evans’ book is a better buy.
|** A wood of our own by Julian Evans (Amazon)
The private passion of the FC’s chief research officer: buying a private woodland with his family. A book to read to see why people buy woodlands.
|The Wood: the life and times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel. I’ve written a short review. (Amazon)|
|** Woodland development: a long term study of Lady Park Wood by George Peterken and Edward Mountford (Amazon)|
|* Woodland management: a practical guide by Chris Starr (Amazon)|
|Woodland rides and glades: their management for wildlife by M.S. Warren and R.J. Fuller (Amazon)|
|The woodland way: a permaculture approach to sustainable woodland by Ben Law (Amazon)|
|** Woodlands by Oliver Rackham. (Amazon)
Rackham was Britain’s foremost student of woodlands, and this is the distillation of his life’s work into a single, big volume. Opinionated, right, wise, comprehensive, and eloquent.
|The woodlot management handbook by Stewart Hilts and Peter Mitchell (Amazon)|
|Woodsman by Ben Law (Amazon)
Ben Law lives in a self-built house in a wood, which he manages using permaculture ideas. His income is provided by the wood itself along with teaching woodland skills and writing fascinating books like this.