Author: Morris Lake
Published by: CSIRO Publishing
Pages: 216 pages
Australia has more tree species than any other continent in the world and CSIRO has just released a new publication which significantly adds to our knowledge of this remarkable resource. Australian Rainforest Woods: Characteristics, Uses and Identification describes not only 141 species but also the structure of their wood. With over 800 images, including macro photographs by Jean Claude Cerre, this book is the most comprehensive guide ever written on Australian rainforest woods.
Morris Lake worked as Senior Technical Information Officer in Qld’s Department of Primary Industry and subsequently authored and co-authored over 450 books and publications, as well as editing World of Wood, the journal of the International Wood Collectors Society until 2013.
However it’s not only the nature and number of tree species that Morris is interested in; it’s their vital importance to life on earth. ‘Rainforests are a cradle of biodiversity’, he says, however the relationship of man to trees is even more direct, ‘because (trees) produced the oxygen that we needed to evolve in the first place’.
In the introduction to his book, the author notes that Australia has 5,300 species, of which 1200 are found in rainforests. Despite this Australia is the least forested continent in the world, he says. Once rainforests covered 60% of the land mass, but now only 0.12%.
Only 2% of the earth’s surface in total is covered by rainforest, vital for not just biodiversity but also for putting water back into the atmosphere. By 2025, Morris Lake points to estimates that 80% of the latter will be cleared due to a massive escalation of illegal rainforest log harvesting.
Illegally harvested trees often reach merchants and manufacturers because they have not been correctly identified. The creation of an international database of macro photos such as those by Jean Claude Cerre featured in the book, would, the author suggests, contribute towards better identification and tracking of species.
It cannot be overstated that publications such as this are important for identifying species and thus contributing towards the appreciation and preservation of forest resources.
You can hear Morris speak on the topic above if you go to this link and listen to the interview he recently recorded with Ann Jones for ABC Radio National.
To buy the book go to this link www.publish.csiro.au