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Conservation’s Roots: Managing for Sustainability in Preindustrial Europe, 1100–1800

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Volume 19

Environment in History: International Perspectives

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Conservation’s Roots

Managing for Sustainability in Preindustrial Europe, 1100–1800

Edited by Abigail Dowling and Richard Keyser
Afterword by Paul Warde

374 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-692-0 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (June 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-693-7 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The volume reflects great editorial care. Almost every study supports the main thesis of the collection, which is that while there was a clear tendency for sustainable forest (land) and water resource management in pre-modern times, this motivation was social and economic, rather than ecological. Not only do the papers implicitly communicate with each other, but they also refer to each other, pointing to the commonalities or differences in practices in the areas studied. With very few exceptions, the papers draw on archival material that in many cases had seldom been studied previously, and even those that build on printed sources raise new perspectives and pose different questions than previous authors. Accordingly, the volume will undoubtedly become one of the key references in pre-modern sustainability studies.” • Historical Studies on Central Europe

“The essays in Conservation’s Roots represent a thoughtful and compelling contribution to the field. They continue the scholarly conversation about the importance of pre-modern history to understanding sustainability, conservation, and the degrees to which people have both influenced their environments and understood the scale and import of their interventions.” • Ellen Arnold, Ohio Wesleyan University

“This collection is valuable and timely, with fresh insights in abundance. It will serve as an excellent reader for students and scholars of environmental history, as both a contribution to scholarship in its own right and a point of entry into the specialist literature.” • Angus J L Winchester, Lancaster University


The ideas and practices that comprise “conservation” are often assumed to have arisen within the last two centuries. However, while conservation today has been undeniably entwined with processes of modernity, its historical roots run much deeper. Considering a variety of preindustrial European settings, this book assembles case studies from the medieval and early modern eras to demonstrate that practices like those advocated by modern conservationists were far more widespread and intentional than is widely acknowledged. As the first book-length treatment of the subject, Conservation’s Roots provides broad social, historical, and environmental context for the emergence of the nineteenth-century conservation movement.

Abigail P. Dowling is an Assistant Professor of History at Mercer University.

Richard Keyser is a Senior Lecturer in the Legal Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Subject: History (General)Environmental Studies (General)
Area: Europe


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