A Dictionary of Environmental History 9780755618712, 9781845114626

Increasing awareness of the extent and cause of environmental problems has fuelled the emergence of a new and timely dis

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A Dictionary of Environmental History
 9780755618712, 9781845114626

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To the memory of Dr Peter John Vincent, 1944–2009.


I would like to acknowledge the support, help and patience of the staff at I.B.Tauris during the book’s somewhat elephantine gestation. I would particularly like to thank my wife, Dr Kathleen Whyte, for reading the full text and making many helpful suggestions for improving it. Numerous friends and colleagues at Lancaster University and elsewhere have, often unwittingly, generated ideas over the years which have been incorporated here. Any faults and errors are, however, my own responsibility. In particular I would like to record the stimulating friendship over 30 years of my late colleague Dr Peter Vincent, to the memory of whom this book is dedicated.



AD BC BP c. C CAP Co. CO2 km3 DMV E EEC ENSO EU GCM GIS H2SO4 ha HEP kg km kw kya L m mph Mts mya

After Christ Before Christ Before present circa century Common Agricultural Policy company carbon dioxide cubic kilometres deserted medieval village East, eastern European Economic Community ˜o/Southern Oscillation El Nin European Union general circulation model geographical information systems sulphuric acid hectares hydro-electric power kilograms kilometres kilowatts thousands of years ago Lake metres miles per hour mountains million years ago




North, northern non-governmental organization optically stimulated luminescence a measure of liquid and soil acidity parts per billion parts per million River Royal Air Force Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland South, southern sulphur dioxide square kilometres tonnes United Nations University Press United States of America Union of Soviet Socialist Republics West, western First World War Second World War


Introduction What is Environmental History? One of the most challenging and stimulating developments in recent scholarship has been the emergence of environmental history as a new academic discipline. It is focused on the study of the past but has also evolved due to concerns about the impact of human societies at the present time. One of its most distinctive features has been the way in which it has embraced scholars from a wide range of backgrounds who have worked at integrating different sources of evidence and intellectual approaches – for example, palaeoecological data with documentary sources and geophysics with myth and folklore. One result of this is that environmental history has a rich and varied vocabulary. This dictionary attempts to assist those unfamiliar with the discipline to understand some of the terminology and approaches which have been used in the developing literature on the subject. Environmental history is the study of the interactions between the physical environment and human societies in the past. It has three key elements: .

The discovery of the structure, distribution and characteristics of natural environments in the past. There is a need to understand the environment before understanding its history. This involves input particularly from the natural sciences, for example, ecology and palaeoecology. . The study of how human activity has interacted with the environment. This embraces a range of disciplines including landscape history and archaeology, social and economic history and geography. . More intangible than the first two is the study of perceptions of past environments, including aesthetics, ideologies, ethics, laws and myths, and how these have influenced the management and exploitation of environments.


A Dictionary of Environmental History

Environmental history evolved in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in North America, then in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa in the 1980s, and more recently in China, Japan and the Middle East. Its rise was linked with the development of the environmentalist movement and a growing awareness of global environmental problems, including initially deforestation, desertification and pollution, and then concern over the ozone layer and global warming. If one seminal book had to be selected to represent these new ideas, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) would be the choice of many. Nevertheless, environmental history had its earliest roots in a range of subject areas including anthropology, archaeology, ecology and geography, going back to the nineteenth century and beyond to ideas like James Hutton’s late eighteenth-century Theory of the Earth. Environmental history puts human history in its widest setting by focusing on its interactions with the environment the impacts of technological, political, economic, social and aesthetic changes on nature and the effects of environmental variations on past societies and cultures. How and why did people in particular places at particular times use and transform their environments? What form of production (e.g. hunting, gathering, farming, mining, forestry) evolved in particular habitats? What problems of pollution and resource depletion occurred? What were the impacts of industrialization and urbanization? How did perceptions of the environment and nature change over time? In the past West European cultural traditions tried consistently to separate themselves from any association with the natural world, except as resources for exploitation. From medieval times at least Europeans saw mountains and forests as dangerous and their inhabitants as equally wild. These ideas were transferred to European colonies but then started to evolve. By the later nineteenth century in the USA interest in the environment, and the rate at which it was being modified by human societies, was a key theme in the work of George Perkins Marsh. The practical conservation work of John Muir, creator of the national park system, represented another strand in the development of environmental history. In Europe its roots can be identified in part in the French school of geography led by Paul Vidal de la Blache, which emphasized the study of pays, small regions in which there was a complex interaction between human and physical influences producing distinctive landscapes. French geography in turn influenced the Annales School of history from the 1930s onwards led by Marc Bloch, Fernand Braudel and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. One of Ladurie’s books in particular, published in translation in 2


1971 as Times of Feast, Times of Famine and subtitled A History of Climate Since AD1000, represents a classic attempt by a historian to dovetail the interpretation of historical records with scientific data. Braudel’s The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II demonstrates the breadth of perspective available to historians who also understand the physical environment. Members of the Annales School, reacting against diplomatic and political history, stressed the need for ‘total history’, shifting their focus to subjects like agriculture, demography and disease. Despite the modern origins of environmental history, much of the data which it uses has long been available; it merely needed to be organized and interpreted in new ways in response to new research questions. Previous generations of geographers, including Ellsworth Huntingdon, Ellen Semple and Alexander von Humboldt, reaching back to the early nineteenth century, had been concerned about the changing interactions between humans and their environments through time. In Britain landscape history, a discipline developed by historian W.G. Hoskins and other contemporaries in the 1950s and 1960s, was an important precursor of environmental history together with the work of contemporary historical geographers like Sir Clifford Darby, and a later generation including Alan Baker, Robin Butlin and Robert Dodgshon. From the 1970s onwards many physical geographers, including Andrew Goudie, Antoinette Mannion, Chris Park, Neil Roberts and Ian Simmons, produced overviews of global environmental change and were happy to call their work environmental history. Environmental history has tended to be geographically fragmented. The non-US environmental historiography focuses on colonialism and imperialism as environmental processes: this viewpoint is absent from or understated in the American literature. It has long been recognized that relationships between human societies and nature are, and always have been, very complex, leading to concerns that currently we may be reducing the options for future generations to a dangerous degree. There is a modern trend, exemplified in the work of Jared Diamond, which uses case studies from environmental history to provide warnings about our possible global fate if we do not treat the environment with more understanding and respect. Environmental history provides an opportunity to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences. An important contribution to environmental history has come from scientists, including palaeoecologists and palaeoclimatologists. H.H. Lamb, the celebrated meteorologist and climatic historian, emphasized that scientists needed a proper understanding of historical sources, the evidence that they contained and the 3

A Dictionary of Environmental History

problems of interpreting them. Many environmental problems have their origins in human culture; to solve these problems insight into the humanities is also needed (Worster 1996). Interdisciplinary approaches are often discussed, even claimed to be practised, but less frequently are they actually realized. This does not mean that they should not be attempted though. Environmental history rejects the idea that human experience has been exempt from natural constraints, or that the ecological consequences of past deeds can be ignored. So environmental history illuminates political, social and economic history. Classics in this vein include William Cronon’s Changes in the Land (1983) and Donald Worster’s Dust Bowl (1979). The origins of environmental history owe a good deal to the development of ideas relating to conservation, heritage and ecology. But human interest in and concern about the environment goes back to writers of classical times. Carolyn Merchant (2002) has emphasized that environmental history is one of the oldest and at the same time the newest fields in human history. Its challenge is to bring nature into the human story (Weiner 2005). Environmental history involves a difficult interdisciplinary balancing act. Many of its tools are borrowed from other disciplines. One thing that has become abundantly clear in recent years is that human impact on the environment reaches much further back into the Holocene than was once supposed and occurred on a larger scale than previously suspected. We can no longer assume the existence until recently of ‘pristine’ landscapes, of stable climax communities in nature contrasting with dynamic and destructive recent human changes. Environmental history is still a rapidly developing discipline. Much of the research by its practitioners appears in the journals of other disciplines, although there are now two major dedicated journals in print, Environmental History and Environment and History. Although there are some research groups and a handful of masters courses in this area there are, to the author’s knowledge, as yet, no first degrees in environmental history. Much of the research output in this field has been strongly empirical in character and the subject has been described as under-theorized (Moore 2003a). A recent and welcome trend has, however, been the development of more strongly theoretical approaches, detecting underlying elements of environmental history in the work of theorists like Marx, Braudel and Wallerstein (Moore 2003a, 2003b). The aim of this dictionary is to provide a clear introduction to the terminology of a discipline which is evolving steadily and which interfaces 4


with a wide range of other fields. It is intended as a reference text for the general reader, for undergraduates and as a starting point for more advanced study. It is acknowledged at the outset that a single volume cannot say it all. The aim is to keep the shorter entries as factual as possible but to treat the longer ones as mini research essays, linked to an extensive bibliography to encourage the reader to undertake further reading. Crossreferencing between entries, provided by the use of bold type, allows readers to move from one topic to related ones. The biases and standpoints of the author, working in a British geography department and interfacing with archaeology, historical geography, landscape history, palaeoecology and socio-economic history, must be acknowledged as they affect the balance of the entries within the text. Every effort has, however, been made to make the coverage of entries as even as possible.


A Aberfan Village 8 km S of Merthyr Tydfil, S Wales. Scene of a major disaster on 21 October 1966 when a colliery spoil heap collapsed into the village, destroying a cottage and burying the Pantglas Junior School and 20 houses. 144 people were killed, 116 of them children. Half the pupils at the school and five of their teachers died. A tribunal of enquiry reported on 3 August 1967, blaming the National Coal Board at various levels for incompetence but not recommending criminal proceedings against any individual. The disaster drew attention to the dangers posed by mining and other industrial waste (Miller 1974).

acid rain Most rainfall is slightly acidic due to carbonic acid formed from atmospheric CO2. In acid rain pollution is due to SO2 and nitrous oxides reacting to produce H2SO4 and nitric acid. Normal rainfall has a pH of around 5; anything lower than this is acid rain. Acid rain was first identified in 1872 in Manchester but has been a widespread phenomenon only from the 1960s. The term has been used since the 1970s to refer to contamination of the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and from volcanic eruptions. Deposition can be wet, in precipitation, or dry, as wind-borne particles. A concentration of SO2 of 0.2 ppm is harmful to vegetation and 1.0 ppm poses a risk to human health. Pollutants can be carried a long distance in the atmosphere and be deposited, via acid rain, far from their source. Norway has been concerned about acid rain from Britain since the 1860s. Half of Canada’s acid rain comes from the USA. It is especially 7

acid rain | adaptation to environmental change

concentrated in E USA and W Europe but is a growing problem in China, S Korea and Japan. In China acid rain had a limited distribution in the 1980s but has now spread over much of the country as a result of rapid industrialization. Acid rain leaches nutrients and minerals from upper soil horizons, affecting tree growth. In Europe in the 1970s and 1980s it caused widespread damage to vegetation, particularly trees, in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Scandinavia, a process known in Germany as waldsterben. In Scandinavia it has caused a decline in lichens, decreasing food supplies for reindeer. On a more local scale, the problem goes back to the early days of industrialization in areas like N England although the real impact only became clear in the late C20. It became a wider issue following the first UN Environmental Conference in Stockholm in 1972. Acid rain can also contaminate freshwater ecosystems, reducing fish stocks. Acid precipitation can attack the stonework of buildings, like the Acropolis in Athens or St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and also affects human health. Measures to reduce acid deposition include removal of SO2 produced in power stations using scrubbers (Howells 1995, Jenkins et al. 2007, Park 1987, Longhurst 1991, McCormick 1989). (See pollution, air.)

adaptation to environmental change Strategies undertaken by individuals, groups or societies in response to environmental changes, that are designed to reduce their vulnerability. They were a feature of human society from the earliest times, a response to environmental problems created by human activities or arising independently, but varying in the nature, speed and success of the adaptation. There has been considerable debate about what elements in societies have encouraged/discouraged successful adaptation. It is interesting to consider the extent to which people in past societies realized that environmental change was occurring, or whether they simply registered and tried to cope with its effects. Responses could be on different scales: individual, community, regional or national. Environmental changes may be periodic ˜ o), gradual (effectively random like flash floods), or cyclical (e.g. El Nin (sea level change) or rapid (earthquakes or volcanoes erupting). Memories of past environmental changes and how ancestors coped with them may have been enshrined in folk myths (Noah’s flood). Societies may have had inbuilt buffering systems to protect them from environmental change, e.g. famine foods. Some groups within past societies, such as the poor, elderly and very young, were particularly vulnerable to change. Adaptation might be limited by cost, by allocation of responsibility for 8

adaptation to environmental change | aerial photography/photographs

dealing with the problem, or by societal, political and religious constraints. Societies tended to have a built-in reluctance to change. A frequently cited example of the failure to adapt to environmental change is the Norse settlement of Greenland. Failure properly to evaluate and understand environmental change is also shown by the history of farming on the US Great Plains. Other frequently quoted examples of societies which appear to have collapsed through a failure to cope with environmental change include the inhabitants of Easter Island and the Maya (Diamond 2005). In contrast the development of agriculture in the Near E can be seen as a positive adaptation to environmental change. Diamond has identified five factors which contributed to the collapse of societies: environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbours, collapse of trade and unsuitable cultural response. In the examples he cites a decline of the resource base as the main factor precipitating a population crash. The responses needed to adapt to environmental change will also depend on scale. An individual might want protection for their property from rising sea level but regional and national authorities might take a wider view of the greatest good of the greatest number (Brooks 2006, Davies 1996, Diamond 2005, Mortimore & Adams 2001, Scoones 1992). (See resilience.)

aerial photography/photographs An early form of remote sensing. There are two kinds of photographs: oblique, taken at angles of less than 90– , which gives a better impression of relief, and vertical, which is more useful for mapping and survey. The first aerial photographs of sites like Stonehenge were taken from balloons. The scope offered by aerial perspectives for improving understanding of known archaeological sites and identifying previously unrecorded ones was appreciated during WW1 by pilots in the Middle E. Pioneer work in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s by people like O.G.S. Crawford, who had served as an observer in the Royal Flying Corps, demonstrated that new sites could be identified, even when obliterated at the surface by ploughing, due to their survival as cropmarks (differences in the growth of crops over buried ditches or stone foundations). The use of aerial photographs has become a standard approach in landscape archaeology and history. They can be used to study vegetation change or the development of landforms like gully systems. Surveys of many parts of Europe in the 1940s and 1950s capture traditional landscapes on the verge of rapid and far-reaching changes and may be the only record of many archaeological sites. Those of Britain taken by the RAF in the late 1940s form valuable records of environmental change 9

aerial photography/photographs | Africa

when compared with modern images: e.g. the removal of field boundaries with the rise of agribusiness (Agnoletti 2006a, Bewley 2001, Crawford 1953, St Joseph 1977, Wilson 1982).

afforestation The deliberate establishment of forests on land not previously covered in trees in recent history. This excludes abandoning arable and pasture and letting woodland regenerate naturally. Planting often involves exotic species, uniform in age, chosen for quick growth rather than aesthetic appearance. Afforestation creates ecosystems which are less complex and biodiverse than natural forests but generally more diverse than the land use which forestry has replaced. It produces forests which are obviously artificial but which have many of the benefits of natural ones (see deforestation).

Africa The second largest continent and the most populous after Asia. Although reliable demographic data are rare before the mid-C20 it is clear that in the recent past Africa was underpopulated: between AD1500 and AD1900 population grew very slowly, from c.50 million to c.100 million. Between 1900 and 2000 it rose to over 800 million. Since the origins of Homo sapiens were in Africa, early human impact on the environment can be postulated. Although its environments have often been seen as pristine wilderness, Africa’s landscapes are in fact anthropogenic, shaped especially by the long-term use of fire. Human impacts on the African landscape in the past have certainly been considerable; yet its agricultural systems have been mobile, adapting to the environment as much as altering it. Thin populations scattered over great distances hindered transport and the development of states. Sub-Saharan Africa was isolated from Eurasia at various times by drought in the Sahara, yet not totally cut off like the Americas so that external influences filtered in slowly, developing distinctive African characteristics in the process. Although contacts developed between W and N Africa across the Sahara, especially following the spread of Islam, and down the E coast, for much of tropical Africa significant contact with the outside world began with the slave trade. African environmental history suffers from a lack of early documentation: historians have had to rely on scientific, archaeological and linguistic evidence in reconstructing environmental history. Environmental historiography has focused on erosion, deforestation and desiccation 10


under human impact. Europeans have often misunderstood African environments: the forest islands in the savanna landscapes of Guinea were seen as the result of deforestation, the remnants of a once extensive forest cover. In fact they were partly human creations in a savanna that would otherwise have had little forest. African historiography has been less keen than elsewhere to blame humans for environmental change (Fairhead & Leach 1996, Leach & Mearns 1996, Maddox 1999). Africa’s ancient rocks, poor soils, variable rainfall and prevalence of diseases did not encourage agriculture. The dating of the development of agriculture and livestock herding (which in some areas like the N savannas seems to have developed earlier than crop growing) is difficult due to the paucity of evidence. Much pastoralism was nomadic, following seasonal patterns of moisture. Fire was widely used to modify environments, affecting the boundaries of savannas and forests. Africa’s long history of human evolution and abundant wildlife gave it a rich, diverse disease environment, much more than in tropical America. The penetration of Europeans into tropical Africa on any scale was delayed by the range of diseases to which they were susceptible in the ‘White man’s graveyard’. Endemic diseases include malaria, onchocirciasis (river blindness), bilharzia, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). Major animal diseases include rinderpest and tsetse fly (passed to humans as sleeping sickness). More recently smallpox, influenza (1917–19), rinderpest (1889–92), and, from the 1980s, AIDS, Ebola and Lassa fever have been serious problems. In the early C20 W Africa had 0.5 m/km2 of coastal rainforest, which has since been heavily depleted by commercial logging and agriculture. In Central Africa 1.8 m/km2 of tropical rain forest has been less affected, though logging and clearing have accelerated rapidly in recent times. In 1990 Africa still had one-third of the world’s tropical forests. Recent work on the environmental history of Africa has emphasized African initiative in the face of European conquest and capitalist exploitation. From the early C19 especially, Africa’s landscapes have been shaped indirectly by influences operating at a global scale such as the creation of plantations for cash crops and the mining of minerals like diamonds and gold. Although some parts of E and W Africa have a long tradition of trading centres, in recent centuries is has been the least urbanized continent. More recently it has experienced rapid growth of cities. In 1950 14.5% of the population was urbanized, in 1990 28% and by 2010 over 33%. 11


There is a widespread view that environmental degradation has been a major feature of Africa in recent centuries, caused by deforestation, erosion and loss of soil fertility, these processes in turn being due to population growth, industrialization, agriculture, logging and urban development. This contrasted with how African peoples interacted with their surroundings in earlier centuries when there was thought to have been more harmony with nature. Desertification has been a particular problem in sub-Saharan Africa, blamed variously on local and regional human activities. Sub-Saharan Africa has long suffered from periodic drought leading to major famines in both early and recent times. Central Africa has huge equatorial rain forests fringed with savannas covering much of the Congo and Zambesi basins. Around 8000BP people in the N savannas began to cultivate millet and sorghum and may have converted extensive areas of dry woodland to grassland. 2,000 years ago rain forest peoples cultivated bananas and yams as well as rearing livestock and hunting, affecting the composition of the forest vegetation. Histories of cultivation are linked to the spread of Bantu-speakers from W Africa over 2,000 years down to AD500–1000 through the rain forests into E and S Africa, disseminating the use of iron. The Portuguese introduced cassava from the Americas and it spread widely in central Africa over the next few centuries. In the C19 exports of manioc, palm oil, ivory and slaves developed. Colonial monopolies granted to private companies led to unregulated exploitation and environmental damage. Widespread recruitment of migrant labour spread diseases like sleeping sickness. Political conflicts over much of the Congo basin have led to modern depopulation and the collapse of infrastructure constructed during colonial times (Adams & McShane 1992, Birmingham & Martin 1983, Butcher 2008, McCann 1999a, 1999b, Anderson & Grove 1987, Giles-Vernick 2002, Richards 1996, Vansina 1990). E Africa has a wide range of environments, most of which have been affected by varying combinations of hunting, agriculture and livestock rearing. Agriculture and pastoralism only took over from hunting and gathering within the last 2,000–3,000 years. In the drier uplands of Kenya and Tanzania pastoralism was more normal, though with some grain cultivation too. On the coast trade contacts with Asia introduced bananas, which spread throughout tropical Africa. The introduction of commercial monocultures of coffee, cotton, tea and tobacco further dislocated indigenous agriculture and extensive areas were expropriated from the native population. Colonial administrators blamed deforestation and soil erosion on African farmers. Agriculture and forestry services implemented 12

Africa | Agassiz, Louis (1807–73)

conservation programmes which were often ill-suited to environmental conditions. Attempts to make farmers construct terraces and adopt other anti-erosion measures were more successful (Anderson 1984, Conte 2004, Ehret 2000, Johnson & Anderson 1989, McCann 1990, McClanahan & Young 1996, Schmidt 1994, Sutton 1990). The savanna areas of the Sudan were suitable for mixed farming. This, with the exploitation of ivory and gold, provided the foundations for the rise of the empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai and the development of trade across the Sahara, with gold, slaves, ivory and hides being exported (Maddox 2006, McIntosh 1988). The rise of the slave trade in W Africa, particularly in the C17 and C18, disrupted economies due to the unrest it created and may have led to population stagnating or declining in many areas. In S Africa indigenous agricultural practices were often sensitive to fragile environments. Imposition of colonial conservation techniques often overlooked local wisdom relating to soil conservation and accelerated soil erosion. Loss of flat fertile land to the Boers, change to commercial agriculture and overuse of steep slopes increased erosion and made agriculture less effective (Singh 2000, Dovers et al. 2003).

Agassiz, Lake The largest proglacial lake in central N America during the retreat of the Laurentide ice sheet 13.7–8.2 kya. It covered extensive areas in Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Minnesota and N Dakota. It underwent major changes in volume resulting from several cataclysmic outbursts as the ice retreated and the water burst through ice lobes and moraines blocking access to the St Lawrence. In its early stages it covered up to 170,000 km2 with a volume of 13,000 km3 (equal to modern L Superior). In its later stages it reached 841,000 km2 and 163,000 km3, seven times the size of the modern Great Lakes. Major outflows into the N Atlantic occurred at 12.9 kya (9,500 km3), 11.3 kya (9,300 km3) and 8.2 kya (163,000 km3), coinciding with the cold phase of the Younger Dryas, the Preboreal Oscillation and the 8.2 kya Event, influencing N hemisphere climate through the circulation of the N Atlantic (Burroughs 2005).

Agassiz, Louis (1807–73) Swiss geologist and glaciologist, known as the ‘Father of Glaciology’ though he built on ideas developed by John Playfair in Britain and Venetz and Charpentier in the Alps. He began studying alpine glaciers in 1836 and soon 13

Agassiz, Louis (1807–73) | agribusiness

realized that moraines and other features relating to glacial action could be seen in areas where there was now no ice. From this he developed the idea of an ice age. Visits to Scotland and N England in 1840 provided evidence of former glaciers in a country which now had none. He produced E´tude sur les Glaciers in 1840 and Syste`me Glaciare in 1847 (Lurie 1961).

Agenda 21 Action plan on environmental issues drawn up at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, being implemented globally, nationally and locally with the aim of reducing poverty in developing countries and encouraging sustainable development while preserving biodiversity.

aggradation The building up of sediments by wind, marine or fluvial action. At the end of the Pleistocene large quantities of fluvio-glacial outwash were deposited in sheets, fans and valley fill as ice sheets retreated. As climate warmed, braided river channels choked with sediment gave way to deeper, meandering channels carrying far less silt. These channels cut into the earlier valley fill deposits. Periods of increased precipitation and more flooding led to further sediment deposition in phases of aggradation. These sediments were in turn dissected by rivers forming sets of river terraces.

agistment In England renting out grazing on common pasture to people not designated as commoners, whether part of the community or outsiders. The introduction of livestock from outside the community, unless carefully controlled by an institution like a manorial court, could lead to abuses such as overgrazing (De Moor et al. 2002, Winchester 2000). (See commons.)

agribusiness Treating agriculture as corporate farming with ruthlessly commercial enterprises, modifying the environment to accommodate this by amalgamating holdings, removing boundaries to allow field enlargement, using machinery and high inputs of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides to produce intensive monocultures. Produce is often sold to large retail organizations like supermarket chains. Characteristic of the USA, Australia and parts of the EU. Environmental impacts in Europe include loss of hedgerows, ancient woodlands and small wetlands, reduced biodiversity 14

agribusiness | agricultural improvement, Britain

and increased soil erosion (Shoard 1980). Caused by rising living standards increasing the demand for food, and the availability of new technology. The environmental cost of agribusiness is high (Brouwer et al. 1991, Robinson 1991).

Agricola, Georgius (1494–1555) Father of mineralogy, born in Switzerland, his De Re Metallica, on the technology of mineral extraction and smelting, with its dramatic woodcut illustrations, provides much detail on late-medieval mining and its environmental impacts.

agricultural improvement, Britain A feature of British agriculture, particularly from the 1730s, with increased use of agricultural machinery, better-balanced crop rotations, recuperative and clearing crops, improved livestock breeds, a wider range of fertilizers (lime burning, guano), turnips and sown grasses. Enclosure was vital to improved agriculture and in England and Wales from the C18 was undertaken mainly using acts of parliament (see parliamentary enclosure). Better-built and more efficiently designed farmsteads, with courtyard layouts, were also built (Wade Martins 1995). Farm amalgamation resulted in more efficient, capital-intensive working of the land. This period has been conventionally labelled the Agricultural Revolution but there were important elements of continuity as well as change. Agricultural improvement in Scotland was well behind England in the earlier C18 but proceeded more rapidly as Scottish landowners could remove tenants at the end of short leases, amalgamate farms and enclose land without reference to parliament (Whyte & Whyte 1991, Gibson 2007). ‘Improvement’ also had an aesthetic side relating to the landscape parks around neo-classical country mansions. Parks were embellished with deer, well-fed cattle and sheep and new crops, epitomised in Gainsborough’s painting Mr and Mrs Andrews (c.1748). The landscaping of parks provided lucrative careers for landscape gardeners like Lancelot (Capability) Brown and Humphry Repton. Plantations of trees were an economic as well as an aesthetic resource and could be felled at need to avert a financial crisis (Daniels & Seymour 1990). During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815) agricultural improvement became a patriotic duty, a way of fighting the French. Writers on agricultural improvement like Arthur Young and Sir John Sinclair were widely known and respected figures in late C18 and early C19 Britain. 15

agricultural origins | agricultural origins: Africa

agricultural origins Agriculture involves the cultivation of crops and livestock rearing. The domestication of plants and animals has been the single most important change in human history, providing a cushion against environmental fluctuations but, in the process, having major effects on the environment. It has been suggested that hunter-gatherers would have had better diets, more easily won, than farmers and that no one would willingly have exchanged the former lifestyle for the latter unless they were forced to, e.g. by environmental change. Hunter-gatherers may have modified their environments by burning but agriculture involved morphological changes in the crops and livestock due to the deliberate human selection of specific genetic traits. Agriculture has major impacts on natural ecosystems and the environment generally, e.g. soil erosion. The transition from hunting and gathering to farming probably started with attempts to increase yields of wild plants rather than deliberately selecting them for human-friendly characteristics. The earliest domesticated wheat and barley in SW Asia was c.9250BC, a few centuries after the rapid warming at the end of the Holocene. The domestication of sheep and goats seems to have occurred 1,000 years or more later in that area (Grigg 1995, Smith 1999). The term ‘Neolithic Revolution’ has been used to describe the origins of agriculture in the Near E but it was not a true revolution, occurring over 4,000–5,000 years. Moreover, the term implies that the development of agriculture was a deliberate goal. The rise and spread of agriculture had broadly the same effects throughout the world: . . . . . .

Increased food surpluses. The rise of stratified societies with religious and political elites and craftsmen. Sedentary settlement. The development of writing. The rise of urban centres. Increasing political control and war.

agricultural origins: Africa The origins of agriculture in Africa are contentious. The lack of archaeological evidence limits understanding of agricultural origins compared with the Near E (McCann 1991). There has been considerable debate over the importance of independent invention within Africa and diffusion from the Near E via the Nile valley (Clark et al. 1975). African 16

agricultural origins: Africa | agricultural origins: the Americas

agriculture involves a mosaic of crops and traditions. Between 12000 and 7500BP the N half of Africa was wetter than now. Herding cattle may have occurred as early as c.7000BC, though this is disputed. It has also been claimed that the cultivation of wheat, barley and possibly sorghum and millet may have had earlier origins S of the Sahara than in the lower Nile valley. There are at least three areas of probable independent origins: the uplands of Ethiopia (millet, coffee), the Sahel (millet, rice, sorghum) and W Africa (African yams, cassava, kola nut, oil palm, rice). In the Sahel agriculture seems to have emerged as early as 5000BC (though wild barley may have been tended and even cultivated as early as 10000BC in Nubia and parts of Egypt) and in the rain forest by 2000BC. S of the Sahara, millet and sorghum were being cultivated by the 3rd millennium BC (Zohary 2001). The origins of African rice cultivation are likely to have been in the Niger delta (Andah 1993, Bedaux et al. 2001, Harlan et al. 1976). By c.5200BC the Sahara was becoming moister allowing pearl millet, sorghum and cowpeas to be domesticated and to spread through W Africa and the Sahel. In the savanna the domestication of animals seems to have preceded agriculture, unlike other areas: domestic sheep and goats arrived from SW Asia by the 6th millennium BC and a drier climatic phase between 5500 and 4500BC may have forced hunters into herding. The wheat and barley of Egypt were unsuited to the summer rains of the Khartoum area and sorghum and millet had to be domesticated instead, but not before the C1AD. In Ethiopia cattle were herded from c.2000BC (Bellwood 2005). Maize was introduced by the Portuguese and has since become a major staple, replacing traditional millets and sorghums, while some millets were exported from Africa to India in the last centuries BC (Murdock 1959).

agricultural origins: the Americas Agriculture in the Americas was based on the cultivation of a variety of plants including chilli peppers, tomatoes, avocados, guava, squash, beans and gourds in garden plots rather than on wild cereals. The development of agriculture was delayed by the lack of suitable animals for domestication, so hunting remained important in societies practising agriculture. Maize, squash and beans were domesticated somewhere in Central America from c.6000BC but took centuries to spread to other parts of the continent. Beans, squash, peppers and some grasses were cultivated in Peru by 7000BC or even 8000BC and in Central America by 7000BC (Smith 1997). Maize began to be cultivated in Mexico c.5,600 years ago. Maize had spread S to Peru by c.1000BC. with the potato it became the central element in diet. The first 17

agricultural origins: the Americas | agricultural origins: the British Isles

high-yielding varieties of maize were not developed until c.2000BC. The evolution of complex societies began 4,000 years later than in Europe and Asia; settled communities did not develop in Meso-America until c.2000BC. From c.400–300BC there was an increase in food production when varieties of maize with a cob twice as long as previous ones developed, leading to the rise of Teotihuacan (Mexico) with a population of c.100,000. The climate of central America made hunting and gathering high-risk subsistence strategies; agriculture provided more predictable food supplies. Rising population densities may have caused environmental degradation, encouraging the adoption of agriculture. Storage of crops could have offset seasonal shortages of food from other sources. The date of arrival of maize in the SW USA may have been as early as the 2nd millennium BC, possibly during a wetter period c1500–1000BC. The key development was the introduction of maize ocho, higher yielding and adapted to dry conditions, from at least 1250BC (Fagan 1991). Evidence emerged in the 1980s that the woodlands of E USA were also a separate hearth of agriculture (Williams 2003). There were three phases of development: (1) from c.5000BC domestication of the sunflower, ragweed and possibly squash in river bottoms; (2) c.2500BC–AD200, Hopewellian farming societies with full-scale agriculture leading to the rise of villages; and (3) AD800–1000, maize imported from tropical areas. When the Europeans arrived full-scale agriculture had only been in operation for c.500 years on the E coast. Villages of 50–1,500 people surrounded by palisades with long houses were consuming huge amounts of timber. In another 500 years, if left alone, the Indians would have had a major impact on the forests of the E USA.

agricultural origins: the British Isles When agriculture reached the British Isles it had to be adapted to a moister climate and heavier soils than on the European continent. Traditional techniques like clearing woodland by burning were probably more difficult to use. Agriculture is first recorded from Ireland c.5750BP (3800BC. and in Britain 5300BP. Archaeologists now suggest that agriculture was adopted by indigenous hunter-gatherers rather than being brought by a massive wave of immigrants. In Ireland, which lacked large post-glacial mammals, the environmental impact of the arrival of domestic cattle was considerable. Throughout the early Neolithic, between 4000BC and 3000BC, the landscape remained predominately wooded and clearings were still small.


agricultural origins: the British Isles | agricultural origins: China

Settlement sites remain elusive and many are likely to have been only seasonal. Woodland clearance may have been accomplished by ring barking the trees then leaving the stumps to rot. The rest of the vegetation may have been piled up and burnt. The clearings, once created, would have been kept in being by grazing of the saplings. There is some evidence of small-scale disturbance of the woodlands before the Elm Decline, due to natural changes or the first signs of farming. The discovery of bones of domesticated cattle in a Mesolithic context from the Dingle Peninsula in SW Ireland points to pre-Elm Decline contacts with Neolithic incomers. After the Elm Decline in Ireland there was a rapid rise in the pollen of tree species which exploited open woodland, especially yew, but this was followed by a major expansion of the cleared area with an increase in the percentage of pollen of grasses, heather, bracken and plants of disturbed ground like ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata). The light loess soils of the Burren, with their thinner tree cover, may have been particularly attractive to farming communities. Once cleared of woodland many areas remained open for centuries before farming declined and woodland regeneration occurred. The farming system in Ireland seems to have involved only limited cereal cultivation and was mainly concerned with raising cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. The early Neolithic in Britain was characterized by a mobile lifestyle with an absence of large, permanent settlements like farming communities in the Near E. Herding was more significant than cultivation and the use of permanent, walled fields seems to have been rare. Although there was an increase in the amount of woodland clearance people still lived in a woodland environment. Nevertheless within 1,500 years in areas like the chalk country around Stonehenge and Avebury the woodlands had been reduced to small patches in an open, parkland landscape (Malone 1989). Much of this was probably due to the impact of grazing animals preventing trees from regenerating rather than direct clearance for crops.

agricultural origins: China Agriculture in China appears to have developed in two distinct areas, the drier loess plains of the N, dominated by millet and wheat, and the wetter south, where rice became the most important crop. Until quite recently it was thought that agriculture had evolved in China relatively late – c.7000BP – but more recent research has pushed the date much further back. The origins of plant domestication in N China, which has been identified as a 19

agricultural origins: China | agricultural origins: Europe

separate agricultural ‘hearth’, have been extended back to the boundary between the Pleistocene and Holocene with the discovery at a site named Cishan of two varieties of millet which seem to have been domesticated soon after c.10400–10100BP (Cowan & Watson 2006, Crawford 2009). This takes agriculture back to the climatic changes associated with the Younger Dryas event. There are many possible similarities in the type of environment and the ways in which it changed, with a fluctuating boundary between woodlands and grasslands, between the Near E and N China (Barton et al. 2009). Rice cultivation in the S seems to go back to a similar early period with paddies from c.8000BP (Crawford 2009, Gupta 2004). Barley and wheat are thought by some specialists to have been introduced from SW Asia. On the semi-arid loess plateaus of N China with rain during the summer growing period wheat was not introduced until c.1300BC and barley even later; agriculture was based on millet and dryland rice, the former the staple, the latter a luxury. Millet was domesticated c.6000BC.

agricultural origins: Europe A major controversy has been whether the diffusion of agriculture through Europe from the Near E was due to a spread of ideas or people. The latter theory has been widely held since the work of V.G. Childe (1968) but more recent research suggests a complex picture combining the two elements in varying degrees at different times and places. The rate of movement appears to have been around 0.6–1.3 km/y: it took 3,000 years or 100 generations for agriculture to reach NW Europe from the Near E. From its original heartland farming spread into S and E Europe. A major natural event which may have helped propel agriculture into E Europe was the flooding of the Black Sea basin c.5500BC, displacing farming communities up the Danube valley. The spread of farming across Europe between 8000BP and 5000BP appears to have been partly the result of the migration of farming communities in search of new land but may also have involved the transfer of the idea of farming to indigenous hunter-gatherer societies (Chikhi et al. 2002, Harris 1996, Harris & Hillman 1989). In SE and central Europe, an immigrant Neolithic population is suggested by the sudden appearance of pottery manufacture and a marked change in styles of houses, settlement patterns and burials. Other sites, like ones in the Danube gorges between Serbia and Romania, suggest the transformation of a native Mesolithic population. In Britain and S Scandinavia, more weight is now given to the transmission of new skills 20

agricultural origins: Europe | agricultural origins: the Near East

and technologies to an indigenous Mesolithic population by limited numbers of immigrants. The slow pace of migration N and W across Europe was punctuated by more rapid advances, especially around 5500BC and 4000BC. Some Mediterranean islands, such as Crete and Cyprus, settled by Neolithic communities c.7000BC, may not previously have been occupied. Within c.500 years the frontier of agriculture seems to have shifted from the Ukraine to E France. Archaeologists have associated the settlements of the so-called LBK culture (from the German Linienbandkeramik relating to their distinctive banded pottery) with the cultivation of small plots of land for cereals. It was originally believed that the earliest farmers in Europe used swidden systems or shifting cultivation; they are now thought to have been more sedentary (Williams 2003). Forest herding fits in better with the evidence for relatively limited clearance of woodland in the early phase of settlement. The livestock of the LBK people were probably often stall-fed due to a lack of open grazing. The LBK culture adapted agriculture to a very different climate from that of the Near E. Cultivation involved emmer and einkorn wheat with legumes and some barley. Fields were probably small with perhaps 10–30 ha for a community with a population of 20–60. Livestock rearing focused on cattle with some sheep and goats. New strains of cereals were developed to cope with moister conditions. They had a preference for particular habitats with well-drained, easilycultivated soils developed on deposits of windblown loess which had accumulated at the end of the ice age. Other soils, even ones which would have proved fertile and easy to cultivate, were not colonized until much later. The impact of the first farmers on the thickly wooded environments of NW Europe has been debated. Even in the early days of farming the scale of woodland clearance was much greater than in Mesolithic times. The transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic seems often to have been swift, with abandonment in some areas of coastal sites in favour of inland locations (Whittle 2002).

agricultural origins: the Near East The oldest source area or ‘hearth’ of agriculture was the ‘Fertile Crescent’ in the Near E running from the R Jordan N through Syria into SE Turkey and then E towards the headwaters of the R Tigris and R Euphrates in modern Iraq (Maisels 1990). Although the wild ancestors of the first domesticated forms of wheat and barley, as well as wild sheep, goats, cattle and pigs, can all be located within this area the reasons for the development of 21

agricultural origins: the Near East

agriculture remain a puzzle (Binford 1968, Braidwood & Howe 1961, Hillman et al. 2001, Maisels 1990). The change to agriculture involved not only an alteration in how food was obtained, but also the development of new relationships between humans and nature, and more sophisticated and stratified social structures. Environmental changes caused by huntergatherers were modest but the first farmers started a chain of events which transformed the environment, leading to major changes in social organization, including the rise of the first cities. The switch from hunting and gathering to farming, especially cultivating cereals, involved more sustained hard work. The more intensive agriculture became the more labour was required per volume of food produced (Boserup 1965). It seems unlikely that people would have voluntarily adopted a life of harder physical labour with a poorer, less nutritious diet; so what pressures led people to develop agriculture? Growing population is one possibility but the evidence is far from convincing. The current consensus is that population growth was an effect rather than a cause of the shift to farming. Environmental stress has been favoured by many archaeologists. In the 1920s and 1930s Prof. Gordon Childe, believing that ice ages in higher latitudes were accompanied by wet pluvial periods nearer the equator, suggested that conditions became drier in the Near E after the ice retreated, causing scarcity of game and forcing hunters to adopt other strategies to survive (Childe 1942). This simple theory has long since been exploded but it is likely that the rapid re-adjustment of climates at the end of the ice age caused considerable changes to Near E vegetation zones putting pressure on human populations. At the end of the ice age the landscape of the Near E was not as dry as today. In the Levant there was more woodland and open parkland with plentiful game. The woodlands were also rich in edible fruits, seeds, leaves and tubers. On the uphill fringes were extensive stands of wild grasses; ancestors of modern cereal crops. Modern research suggests that the cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals developed in different areas; the former among the woodland and parkland of the R Jordan valley, the latter further N and E on the fringes of the Zagros Mts. Farming seems to have developed as a supplement in areas where diet was already diverse and rich, rather than on the fringes of viable settlement (Harris 1996, Harris & Hillman 1989). The glacial readvance of the Younger Dryas (11000–10000BP) when precipitation decreased, may have been the key to the origins of farming. Another environmental pressure in the Levant was the loss of good-quality land with rising sea levels as ice caps melted, reducing the width of the 22

agricultural origins: the Near East | agricultural origins: South Asia

coastal plain by many km. The wild ancestors of the first cultivated cereals were adapted to open sites, poor soils and dry summers. The first known domesticated forms of barley and wheat are recorded from Jericho around 10000BP. Sheep are thought to have been domesticated by c.9000BC, goats by c.7500BC, pigs from c.7000BC and cattle from c.6000BC. Early farming communities may also have herded semi-domesticated gazelles (see Natufian culture) (Bar-Yousef 1998, Bellwood 2005, Byrd 1994, Sherrat 1980).

agricultural origins: South Asia In S Asia there were indigenous centres of domestication in India as well as diffusion from SW Asia. There were moving frontiers of colonization by agricultural populations as well as static frontiers of interaction between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. The body of evidence for the origins of agriculture is nevertheless remarkably small for such a large area. In particular there is a lack of knowledge about the environmental changes which occurred in the early Holocene and how they affected agricultural origins. A number of source areas for domesticated crops have been suggested: horsegram in arid savanna areas of E and SE India, mungbean in the W Himalayan foothills or the E Ghats, urdbean in the W Ghats, wild rice somewhere in Bangladesh. A SW Asian agricultural package was widespread by the time of the Harappan phase of urbanization in the Indus Valley though some herding of animals may have developed locally in S Asia: goats seem to have been domesticated at the earliest Neolithic levels in Mehrgarh on the River Bolan, a tributary of the Indus. This package spread E into the middle Ganges basin by c.3500BC. The winter-sown crops were added to existing farming systems based on locally domesticated monsoon crops: centres in Gujerat and the Ganges basin have been proposed. Rice may have been domesticated in N India before other crops spread from the W Agricultural evolution in E India but this has been little studied. The S Deccan may have been a separate hearth for millets and pulses, spreading S and E to other regions. In S India hunter-gatherers could choose from coastal rice-based agriculture and the Deccan millet-pulse package. There is an overall lack of reliable radiocarbon dates for key phases of agricultural development in S Asia. Wheat and barley were domesticated in India by 9000BC during a wetter phase which probably prevented the cultivation of wet season crops like millet and lentils. The cultivation of millet in S India may have developed due to the onset of more arid conditions. Sheep and goats were 23

agricultural origins: South Asia | agroforestry

domesticated soon after 9000BC. The Asian elephant, unlike its African counterpart, was domesticated c.8000–6000BC. Irrigation was being practised in the Indus Valley by 4500BC (Fuller 2006).

agriculture: mechanization Agricultural improvement until the C19 involved little mechanization beyond better ploughs such as Small’s (1763), and Jethro Tull’s seed drill (1701). The threshing machine was invented c.1784 in SE Scotland and was quickly adapted to horse, water, wind and steam power. The brick chimneys of steam threshing machines still dominate large arable farms in SE Scotland and NE England. The C19 brought steam traction engines that could be used for ploughing, threshing and a range of other activities. Horse-drawn threshers and reapers began to spread from the 1830s and petrol-driven tractors were first developed in 1892. Combine harvesters had a major impact on the environment, requiring larger fields with fewer boundaries for maximum efficiency (see agribusiness). Tractors (millions) Date




1920 1950 1990

0.25 3.4 4.6

0 0.6 2.7

0.3 6 26

(McNeill 2000).

Mechanization has led to widespread hedgerow removal in W Europe and a focus on crops that can be harvested mechanically, encouraging monoculture and an increase in farm sizes along with a decline in the amount of land used for producing animal feed. The mechanization of cotton harvesting in the USA in the late 1940s increased the migration of African-Americans to the cities (McNeill 2000).

agroforestry A combination of agriculture and forestry on the same land allowing animals to be pastured or crops to be grown while maintaining enough woodland to protect soils and generate some woodland products. Agroforestry has been divided into silvopasture (see wood pasture) and silvoarable, where the space between the trees is quite extensive, and forest 24

agroforestry | Alaska

farming and forest gardening, where crops are produced from between more closely spaced trees. A traditional form of farming in many tropical areas but also in parts of Europe (Abbot & Homewood 1999, Allan 1967, Franzel & Scherr (2002). Increasingly favoured as a more sustainable system of farming than swidden.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) First identified in the 1980s, caused by the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and now a major cause of death globally. Its origins may lie in Africa, having passed from chimpanzees to humans at some time between the 1930s and 1950s. It is transmitted between humans by sexual intercourse, contaminated needles or infected blood products causing a breakdown of the immune system. It has killed c.25 million people to date. At first doctors thought that it was confined to particular high-risk groups like homosexuals, especially in the W, but at the same time the disease was spreading rapidly among the heterosexual population of sub-Saharan Africa. Antiretroviral drugs can slow the spread of the disease and prevent AIDS from rapidly destroying immune systems but they are expensive: there is no vaccine as yet (Dobson 2007).

Alaska Comprises 20% of the area of continental USA, twice the size of Texas. When the American West vanished at the end of the C19 Alaska was left (before Star Trek) as the final frontier. The resulting image has been one of rugged men triumphing over a harsh environment; a white, male, middleclass American view influenced by the writings of Jack London (1876–1916) and Robert Service (1874–1958) who both immortalised the region and its gold rushes. The first significant European contact with Alaska was in 1741 with the Russian expedition of Vitus Bering. Following this, fur trading with the Aleuts led to permanent settlement from 1784. The Russian America Company carried out a colonization programme in the early-mid-C19 after 80% of the Aleuts were destroyed by European diseases and violence. Alaska was purchased from Russia by the USA in 1867 for $7.2 million. In the 1890s gold rushes in Alaska and the Yukon Territory brought thousands of immigrants. In 1896 a small group of prospectors found a rich pocket of gold at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers. Waves of immigrants brought profound environmental changes. Alaska was granted territorial status in 1912 and statehood in 1959. Denali National Park and 25

Alaska | allotment

Preserve was established as Mount Mackinlay National Park in 1917. Oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay in the 1950s. In 1979 the Alaskan National Interest Land and Conservation Act (ANILCA) was passed protecting over 40 million ha of federal land, tripling the area designated as wilderness. The 1,280 km long Trans Alaska Pipeline was opened in 1977. As well as oil spills from pipelines there have been recent problems with cruise ships discharging waste water, oily bilge and refuse into sensitive marine environments. But because of state regulations cruise lines now use their most environmentally friendly vessels following a series of multi-million dollar fines (Berry 1975). Since the 1880s most people who came to the region did so to make money then leave; this transient viewpoint shaped environmental attitudes. Most Alaskans saw no intrinsic value in nature, equating progress with converting nature into commodities, despoiling the landscape and its resources in the process. The arrival of extractive industries like mining and salmon processing in the 1880s started the ‘modern economy’ (Coates 1991, Haycox 2002, Nelson 1995, Webb 1985).

algal bloom The large-scale spread of algae in lakes or the sea due to changes in water chemistry and/or temperature. Such blooms can be caused by pollution of nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers. The decay of algae can remove oxygen from water, endangering fish stocks, and may also release toxins. (See eutrophication.)

Allerød A milder phase towards the end of the last glaciation in NW Europe (c.14– 13 kya). Forest, mainly birch and pine, reached N England and S Sweden though an ice cap remained over central and N Scandinavia. A similar climatic phase, followed by the Younger Dryas cooling, has been identified outside Europe in areas like E Africa and S America.

allotment Small plots of land in or adjoining urban areas, usually leased by individuals from local authorities for the intensive cultivation of garden produce. In Britain the Allotments and Gardens Compensation for Crops Act 1857 obliged local authorities to provide allotments on demand, which increased greatly in WW1. Railway companies often provided allotments for their 26

allotment | Alps

workers on surplus land. Demand rose again in WW2 with 1.4 million being provided. This fell to under 300,000 by 1996 but has been increasing again since then (Crouch & Ward 1997). Alternatively ‘allotment’ refers to areas of land allotted to proprietors in C18–C19 parliamentary enclosure awards in lieu of extinguished common rights.

alluvial fan A triangular spread of alluvium and coarser material deposited when the gradient of a stream suddenly lessens, e.g. where a tributary on a steep valley side reaches the valley floor. Alluvial fans may be attractive to cultivation and settlement on account of their fertility, if not too stony, but are potentially vulnerable to flash floods.

alluviation The deposition of alluvium in river valleys and flood plains. Variations in the rate of alluviation may be due to natural processes such as climate change causing periods of higher precipitation and flood frequency, or the result of human activity with deposition following phases of deforestation and soil erosion higher in a catchment. Periods of alluviation occurred in river valleys in lowland Britain between 9600BP and 8400BP and 4800BP– 4200BP. One effect of alluviation is to bury lowland archaeological sites from earlier periods (Simmons 2001).

alluvium Sediments deposited by running water ranging from clay and silt to sand and gravel, deposited in layers on river floodplains, as alluvial fans or as deltas. Valley floor alluvial deposits may be eroded to form river terraces, which may be datable using incorporated organic material providing evidence of phases of erosion and deposition in the catchment.

Alps Mountain range running E–W across Europe, separating the N European Plain from the Mediterranean. The highest summit is Mont Blanc (4,808 m). The Alps provided a major barrier to the movement N of plants and animals from refuge areas after the last glaciation and also to humans through prehistory and history with most of the passes being blocked in winter. Lower passes like the Brenner were major arteries for trade but none of the passes was easy, explaining why Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in 27


218BC to attack Rome was such a celebrated achievement. The Alps were rich in minerals and the first Iron Age culture in Europe is named Hallstat after a site S of Salzburg. Many high alpine valleys were colonized during the medieval climatic optimum period of population growth. In earlymodern times different valleys and regions began to specialize in beef production or dairying, and many areas developed domestic industries as additional supports. From medieval times seasonal migration from high alpine valleys to surrounding lowlands and towns developed as another source of income (Netting 1981, Viazzo 1989). In medieval and Renaissance times the Alps were viewed with fear by outsiders, the abode of danger and horror, yet at the same time crossed by routes carrying large volumes of traffic between the cities of Italy, the Low Countries and Germany. Remoteness brought the benefits of clean water and relative isolation from epidemics but marginal conditions could make agriculture precarious before the spread of the potato. Although the mountain environment seemed to offer only a poor living, the availability of gold, silver, lead, copper and salt provided wealth for some. Population growth in the C18 led to large-scale deforestation, causing compaction and waterlogging of soils and increased erosion, landslides and flooding. Since the late C19 government initiatives in many Alpine countries have encouraged replanting. At the same time major changes occurred in agriculture. Many parts of the Alps had already moved from a mixed subsistence economy to commercial livestock rearing by the C19. The introduction of dairies led to the abandonment of many alpine pastures and their re-colonization by woodland. Growing commercialization of agriculture in lowland areas and the collapse of local cottage industries under competition from outside manufacturers led in the late C19 and early C20 to large-scale depopulation. With the abandonment of high-level marginal land the upper limit of permanent settlement in parts of the Alps fell by 300 m (Lichtenberger 1975, Frey 1976). The continuing depopulation of farming communities accelerated erosion and landslides as traditional farming practices had provided protection against landscape degradation. From the later C18 the growing interest in sublime mountain landscapes attracted visitors on the Grand Tour and Alpine tourism was born (Schama 1995). Its full development had to wait until the railway network penetrated the high valleys in the later C19. Centres like Bad Gastein and Bad Ischl in Austria developed as spas, attracting wealthy invalids. Other settlements, notably Chamonix and Zermat, became famous as mountaineering centres (Ring 2000). After WW2, with the rise of package holidays, 28

Alps | Amazon

skiing developed rapidly from a minority sport for a wealthy elite to a mass pastime. The technical expertise of engineers in constructing roads, mountain railways and cable cars opened the valleys and the mountains to summer as well as winter visitors, leading to the development of resorts and their associated infrastructure of access roads, hotels, ski lifts, and ski runs (Elsasser & Messerli 2001, Kariel & Kariel 1982). Tourist development came at an environmental cost. Forest clearance to create ski runs and high-level access roads scarred the landscape, increasing runoff, erosion, the risk of flooding and avalanche damage. Resorts have caused traffic congestion and pollution and increased demand for water and waste disposal. The proliferation of ski runs, roads, tracks and paths damaged alpine meadows, threatening many plant species. The need to keep resorts operating all year to make them pay led to the expansion of summer activities like walking, mountain biking, riding and white water rafting, which spread the landscape impacts of tourism even further. The Alps are one of the world’s most saturated tourist areas. For a long time tourism was seen as a more benign source of income for mountain communities than industry. There was a rapid shift of employment in Alpine communities from farming to tourism and in the process traditional social structures were altered. Some of the most striking areas of alpine landscape receive protection as national and regional parks. But only around 10% of the Alps are protected by such designations and the creation of national parks often leads to conflicts (Thompson 1999, Weiss 2001).


The Amazon basin covers 5.8 million km2 in Brazil, Peru and Colombia. Pollen evidence and sediment cores suggest that its climate was unstable in the Holocene, alternating between wetter and drier phases. The early Holocene was c.5– C cooler than recent times and more temperate in character. Until recently it was thought that much of the Amazon basin was dry during the greater part of the Pleistocene and dominated by savanna, with forests concentrated in relatively small refuges. It is now thought that the tremendous biodiversity was due to high levels of natural disturbance and the stability of forest ecosystems. Humans have been recorded in the Amazon basin from c.5,000 years ago; their impact has been longer and more extensive than previously believed, with earlier burning of the forest for agriculture. The Amazon rain forests are not then a pristine wilderness but an environment which has long been managed. It has been assumed that the Amazon rain forests were not suited to large-scale 29

Amazon | Amsterdam

human settlement due to the poorness of the soils away from floodplains and based on the lack of major archaeological sites. Settlement has recently been shown to have been earlier and more widespread than previously thought: by c.9000BC there was a stone tool-making tradition and the occupation of the lower Amazon appears to date from c.10000BC. Agriculture was established on the coast by c.2000BC. The landscape of Amazonia in the last 350 years represents a return to wilderness due to the reduction of native population in colonial times. Recent archaeological research using satellite imagery and radar has discovered in the upper Amazon evidence of large pre-Columbian settlements with roads, bridges, avenues and squares, some possibly dating from the C13AD others to the C2BC. civilizations perhaps comparable to the Aztecs or Maya and implying disturbance of the rain forest on a previously unsuspected scale (Denevan 1998). Agriculture made some complex adaptations to the wide range of local environments. Terra preta (black earth) soil found near the main rivers is anthropogenic caused by the cultivation of soils and dense settlement. The early C19 rubber boom brought an influx of population: the boom collapsed after 1912 with the development of rubber plantations in SE Asia, grown from seedlings taken from the Amazon. With the decline in rubber production colonization halted temporarily, only to be renewed with the construction of networks of roads from the 1960s bringing millions of incomers into the region. But growing colonization with slash and burn agriculture and cattle ranching also caused a major increase in forest clearance. About 12% of the forest cover had been cleared by AD2000 to be replaced by ranches and smallholdings whose success was often short lived (Cleary 2001, Dean 1987, Little 2001, Moran 1993, Roosevelt 1994, Van der Hammen & Adsy 1994, Whitehead 1996).

Amsterdam From medieval origins as a small settlement beside the R Amstel, Amsterdam flourished during the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ of the later C16 and early C17. In the late C12 and C13 fishermen on the banks of the Amstel build a bridge across it close to where it flowed into the River Ij. The mouth of the Amstel, where the street called the Damrak now runs, became a safe harbour. Until the C16 the town remained small but then expanded outwards in a series of concentric semi-circular canals with an outer line of defences. Amsterdam developed as a burgher city with rows of tall narrowfronted canalside houses built to a similar general style but each one individual in detail. Like Venice these were built on wooden piles driven 30

Amsterdam | Anasazi

into the mud; subsidence has made some of the canal houses lean. The packed frontages often conceal gardens and courtyards at the rear. In the C17 extensive reclamation of freshwater lakes around the city assured local food supplies (Roegholt 1997).

anaerobic In environments like waterlogged soils, peat bogs and marshes the decomposition of organic matter is due to anaerobic bacteria which live without oxygen: this is the main source of atmospheric methane.

Anasazi The ‘ancient ones’: civilization of SW USA which constructed the tallest buildings in N America before the Chicago skyscrapers of the 1880s. Agriculture arrived here from Mexico, with corn being grown by 2000BC, squash from c.800BC, then beans and cotton by c.AD400. By the C1AD village societies based on irrigation of agriculture had appeared and population was rising steadily. Most of their homeland lay at 1,200–2,400 m; temperature fell with height but rain increased. Corn could grow at up to 2,130 m but needed irrigation below 1,700 m. Moisture came from the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, both strongly influenced by ENSO cycles. Summer rain between July and September came from both areas, winter rain from the Pacific from December to March. There were three types of agriculture: dryland farming at higher elevations where rainfall was greater (as with the Mogollon and Mesa Verde peoples), in canyon bottoms where the water table was close to the surface (Mimbre and Pueblo 2, Chaco Canyon), and using irrigation, especially the Hohokam who developed the most extensive systems in America outside Peru based on hundreds of km of secondary canals fed from main ones 18 km long, 5 m deep and 30 m wide. The Anasazi of Chaco Canyon flourished from c.AD600 to AD1150– 1200. Around AD700 they developed massive stone construction and between the C10 and C12 buildings with up to six storeys. Chaco Canyon developed into a mini-empire linked by hundreds of km of local roads, supported by a peasantry and ruled by an elite. The last dated buildings at Pueblo Bonito are c.AD1117 and in Chaco Canyon c.AD1170. A combination of population pressure and periodic severe drought from c.AD1130 seems to have precipitated social stress with evidence of war, burnt settlements and cannibalism. Between c.AD1150 and AD1200 Chaco Canyon was virtually abandoned and when the Navajo arrived c.600 years later they attributed the construction of the ruined buildings to the ‘ancient 31

Anasazi | Andes

ones’. The Anasazi did not collapse totally; they dispersed in the face of environmental pressures during two major drought cycles AD1130–80 and AD1275–99. With a population nearly at carrying capacity the Anasazi were ˜ o events or droughts) and especially vulnerable to short-term events (El Nin to long-term climatic changes (Axtell et al. 2002, Diamond 2005, Fagan 1991, Stuart 2000).

ancient and planned countryside A division of England into two broad landscape categories recognized by early-modern topographers as woodland and champion (open field) areas. Later landscape specialists recognized that parliamentary enclosure in England was concentrated in a belt of country from S England through the Midlands to the NE with regions of old enclosures on either side. This belt had been transformed in medieval times by the creation of open field systems, many of which survived until enclosure in the C18. The distinction between ‘ancient’ and ‘planned’ was emphasized by Rackham (1986) who itemised the distinctive features of both types of area. Ancient countryside, which had not been transformed in medieval times by the widespread adoption of open field systems, was characterized by dispersed settlement in farms and hamlets and had considerable continuity from earlier, even prehistoric times. Planned countryside developed in early historic times with the establishment of nucleated villages and open field systems (not necessarily together). The possible reasons for this contrast have been discussed by Williamson (2003).

ancient woodland A term coined by Rackham (1986) to describe British woodlands on sites known to have been continuously wooded since AD1600, on the basis that records of land use from this time onwards are usually fairly complete while those for earlier periods are increasingly fragmentary. Woodlands created since AD1600 are ‘recent’. Some species, such as small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata), are confined to ancient woodlands and a few hedges and are valuable as indicator species (Anderson 1990, Rackham 1986, 2006).

Andes Mountain chain 7,000 km long in S America. From c.4000BC, if not earlier, the domestication of the potato and other plants allowed a sedentary lifestyle, with the creation of terrace cultivation and irrigation 32

Andes | Annales School

systems and significant alteration to the landscape. Around L Titicaca and the Bolivian-Peruvian altiplano agriculture emerged c.1500BC. before this time aridity prevented intensive agriculture. Between c.1500BC and AD1100 the Tiwanaku developed agriculture and population grew. They developed a distinctive high-yield farming technique based on growing crops on raised mounds surrounded by irrigation water which released heat at night to provide warmth for the crops. Between AD600 and AD800 Tiwanuku developed on an urban scale with a population of up to 30,000 and impressive monumental architecture. Around AD950 there was a significant fall in precipitation around L Titicaca and agriculture seems to have collapsed, leaving a vacuum which was eventually to be filled by the Incas. The Inca empire developed from the mid-C14 until the mid-1530s but collapsed spectacularly under the impact of the Conquistadors. More recent native culture represents a fusion of traditional and introduced elements. Deforestation was widespread by the Inca period and continued under Spanish rule. Desertification has been especially bad in Bolivia due to overgrazing and the cultivation of steep slopes has encouraged erosion (Binfold et al. 1997, Gade 1999).

Angkor Wat, Cambodia City and temple complex built by the Khmers from the C9AD at a time when the monsoon circulation brought a rich influx of fish creating what may have been the world’s largest pre-industrial city with a population of 1 million spread over c.1,000 km2 as a huge low-density urban complex. To feed the inhabitants extensive areas of woodland were cleared for rice cultivation and a vast, complex irrigation system developed, including three artificial reservoirs which were among the greatest engineering achievements of the pre-industrial world. The city survived until the C15 but it has been suggested that deforestation caused erosion that choked the hydraulic system, which gradually fell into disrepair and led to population decline.

Annales School French school of historical research and writing which emerged in the late 1920s, named from the journal Annales d’Histoire E´conomique et Sociale (now called Annales: E´conomies, Socie´te´s, Civilisations) founded by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre. It represented a reaction against the dominance of political and diplomatic history and emphasized the need for ‘total history’, considering the underlying long-term structures which influenced everyday 33

Annales School | Antarctic

life as well as day-to-day events. It was much more concerned with environmental influences and changes than previous historical approaches and was strongly influenced by contemporary French geography. The Annales School emphasized new directions, such as comparative and quantitative history, but also stressed closer links with geography and other social sciences, considering environmental history in some detail and absorbing approaches from geographers like Vidal de la Blache. It developed the concept of different wavelengths of time. The longue dure´e or geographical time comprised deep underlying rhythms, including environmental change, influencing human society. Above this were medium-scale cycles, including demographic, economic and agrarian ones. Together these formed the structures against which individual human lives were played out in short-term cycles, including diplomatic and political events. The school included such celebrated historians as Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Fernand Braudel and Marc Bloch. Its particular focus has been on France and Western Europe. Braudel’s The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (1972) is a classic of this genre (Burke 1990). Braudel has sometimes been accused of regarding the environment as a mere backdrop to economic history but Moore (2003b) has suggested that he saw ecology and economics as being intimately related and was a pioneer of ecohistorical approaches.

Antarctic 95% covered in ice over 2,000 m thick in places; a cold desert with low precipitation. In 1773 James Cook’s second voyage of exploration penetrated S of the Arctic Circle, establishing that a S continent did not exist in more temperate latitudes and that any land further south was likely to be of little economic value. 1821 saw the first known landing on Antarctica by American sealers. In 1823 a British whaler, James Weddell, discovered the Weddell Sea, reaching over 74– S. The later C19 saw an expansion of sealing and whaling in Antarctic waters. S Georgia had been discovered in 1675 and claimed for Britain by Cook in 1775. British and American sealers sometimes overwintered there in the C18 and C19. The island later became a major whaling centre with factory settlements at Grytviken and other locations (Headland 1984). Scientific exploration of the continent began in the early C20 with Captain Scott’s first expedition in 1902. In 1907–9 Ernest Shackleton got to within 155 km of the S Pole: the first to reach it was Amundsen in 1911. By 1957–8, the International Geophysical Year, 12 nations had established over 60 bases. The Antarctic 34

Antarctic | anthrax

Treaty, signed in 1959, dedicated the continent to scientific research and limited military activity in support of science. Although the Antarctic was once widely believed to be virtually immune to the impacts of global warming, recent research has demonstrated otherwise. In March 2002 5,500 km2 broke off the Larsen B ice shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula; only 40% of the ice shelf that existed in 1995 is still there and ice shelves throughout the peninsula have lost 113,500 km2 since 1974. The Antarctic Peninsula is seemingly especially sensitive to climate change. Average temperatures here have risen 2.5– C in the last 50 years, two or three times the global average, but there have not been comparable rises in the main part of Antarctica. From the 1960s a number of cores have been drilled in the Antarctic ice sheet reaching depths of 2,500 m and ice over 200,000 years old; oxygen isotope analysis of the layers has provided indications of temperature variations throughout the last glaciation and the interglacials on either side of it. Although the Antarctic environment has experienced less modification caused by human activity than the other continents, changes have nevertheless occurred. The killing of c.90% of the great whales in Antarctic waters removed almost an entire trophic layer and has had widespread repercussions on marine ecosystems. There are concerns about pollution from the increasing number of cruise ships visiting the area (Bertrand 1971, Walton 1987).

anthrax A disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis which can affect both animals and humans. It can be passed on to humans by infection via the skin during the butchering and skinning of animals, killing around onefifth of those infected. It can also be transmitted through eating infected meat, with mortality levels being as high as 100%. Inhalation of spores is a third source of infection which, if untreated, can cause heavy mortality. It is thought by some scholars to have been the cause of the Black Death rather than bubonic plague. Until the C20 it killed large numbers of domestic animals and people in Europe, Africa, Asia, N America and Australia before Louis Pasteur developed a vaccine in 1881. As a result of vaccination programmes it is now rare. In the C20 experiments in its use as a biological weapon were undertaken. Gruinard Island, off the W coast of Scotland, was contaminated by anthrax testing during WW2 and was only decontaminated in 1986–90. Anthrax spores can survive dormant in soils for many decades. 35

anthropocene | Appalachians

anthropocene Suggested by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer (2000) as a new geological epoch characterized by the dominant impact of humans on the global environment. They proposed that it started at the end of the C18 with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and was characterized by rapid population increase, urbanization, increasing consumption of fossil fuels, deforestation, pollution, habitat change and global warming.

anthropogenic Environmental changes resulting from human activities rather than purely natural forces.

Appalachians Mountain range in E N America; 2,550 km long with extensive, varied woodland cover including one of world’s greatest hardwood forests. Areas like the Great Smoky Mountains have a great variety of plant and animal species. The N–S direction of the range facilitated the N spread of plants and animals after the last glaciation from refuges in the S part of the mountains. Most of the woodlands S of the White Mts are hardwoods while conifers are more frequent in the N of the area. In the S especially most of the woods are secondary growth following 300 years of logging but there are a few areas of virgin forest from pre-Colombian times. The mountains were settled from c.8000BP. with extensive woodland clearance for native agriculture, then again by Europeans from the early C19 with some areas transformed by coal mining and logging. By the 1890s forests in the N Appalachians had been heavily cleared and logging was moving S. A growing conservation movement led to the creation of national parks, while by the mid-C20 extensive areas were in the hands of the US Forest Service. Underfunding of national parks has caused conservation problems. Open summit speciesrich grasslands, or balds, which may have been created by earlier summer grazing, are now becoming covered with scrub. Forests and river life are being threatened by acid rain and by diseases such as the one which has attacked American chestnuts since the early C20 resulting in a loss of 4 billion trees in 35 years. The landscapes of the Hudson River provided an early attraction to tourists as did the White Mts from the mid-C19. A distinctive type of coal mining, mountaintop mining, has been practised since the 1960s, especially in W Virginia and E Kentucky, where the top of a 36

Appalachians | Aral Sea

mountain or ridge is removed to access coal seams and the overburden then replaced. This reduces biodiversity and often results in waste material being dumped in nearby valleys (Silver 2003, Williams 2002b). The Appalachian Trail, 3,505 km long and designated in 1968, is the longest marked footpath in the USA and its popularity has done a lot for conservation in the region, as has Bill Bryson’s popular book A Walk in the Woods (1998).

aquifer An underground stratum of porous rock, e.g. sandstone, in which water collects naturally and which can be tapped for irrigation or domestic use, especially by drilling wells. Many have been overexploited in recent times, leading to a reduction of supplies and sometimes land. The discovery of the Oglala Aquifer underlying some 250,000 km2 of Colorado, Nebraska and Texas, USA held out major possibilities for agriculture. But the water in the aquifer accumulated over 1 million years ago and is not being replenished under present climatic conditions. It is a finite resource which is being used up at an increasing rate. In Australia the Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest groundwater aquifers in the world, covering c.1.7 million km2, and supplies much of Queensland and parts of South Australia with water. There are also major aquifers below the Sahara, one underlying all of Egypt W of the Nile, and others below Libya, much of Chad and the Sudan. These have been estimated to contain the equivalent of 3,750 years’ flow of the Nile. Much of the water accumulated during a wetter phase 50–20,000 years ago but some of it goes back over 1 million years.

Aral Sea The world’s 4th largest inland sea after the Caspian, L Superior and L Victoria, situated in the semi-desert borders of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia. Its drying up in recent decades has been described as one of the greatest environmental disasters of the C20 (Glantz 1999). In the 1950s it had a surface area of 66,000 km2, a volume of c.1,090 km3 and a maximum depth of 68 m. Since the 1960s its area and volume have shrunk steadily. Between 1960 and 1987 its level dropped by nearly 13 m and its area by 40%. By the opening of the C21 there had been a 53% decrease in surface area and a 70% drop in volume (Micklin 1998, 2000). The level of the sea’s surface has fallen from 53 m to 28 m. Shrinkage has been due to reduced inflow, mainly due to abstraction for irrigation. Annual inflow in 1960 was 63–65 km3. Now it is only c.1.5 km3, 37

Aral Sea

though a minimum of 10 km3 is needed to prevent further shrinkage. Major changes in the volume of the sea are not new: former shorelines show that it has risen and fallen throughout the Holocene, with a range of at least 20 m and possibly over 40 m due to variations in climate and alterations in the courses of the rivers flowing into it. Within the last 3,000 years human societies have played an increasing role through diverting water for irrigation and other purposes. However, between the late C18 and the early C20 fluctuations were quite small. In the early C20 the level of the lake was relatively high, resulting in a time lag in the late 1950s and early 1960s before the impact of the new irrigation systems on the sea’s hydrology became apparent. Shrinkage since the 1960s has been the fastest in over 1,000 years. On present trends only a small saline remnant will survive within the next decade or two. The drying up of the sea has caused severe environmental economic, social and health problems. Shrinkage has had a significant impact on the regional climate. From the mid-1960s until the end of the 1970s a drier phase set in, but as the sea shrank anthropogenic influences pushed the climate further towards aridity. The sea at its 1950s level exerted a moderating effect on climate, reducing cold conditions in winter and high temperatures in summer. With shrinkage winters have become longer and colder but snowless; summers shorter, hotter and rainless. This has shortened the growing season, putting cotton production at risk: some farmers have been forced to switch to growing rice. Ironically, it was for the expanding cotton production that water was diverted from the sea in the first place. The key factor in causing continued shrinkage has been the abstraction of water for irrigation. Irrigated land in the Aral Sea basin rose from 3 million ha in 1900 to 7.6 million ha by 1987. The Karakum Canal was constructed from the mid-1950s – the longest irrigation canal in the Soviet Union, running for 1,300 km from the Amu Dar’ya into the Kara-Kum desert – and has been the most significant user of water, withdrawing up to 13 km3 a year (Glantz 1999). The irrigation systems were badly designed, inefficient and poorly maintained. 50–60% of the water never reached the fields, being lost by seepage and evaporation. The cotton crop required half the available water resources of the two river basins (Glantz 1999). Overintensive cropping led to a fall in soil fertility, which was tackled by increased use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. When these were flushed into the Aral Sea they caused ecological complications. Some reduction of the sea had been expected in the original irrigation plan but impacts on local climate and ecosystems were underestimated. 38

Aral Sea | Aran Islands

Few scientists had foreseen that large amounts of salt would be blown from the dried-out lake bed on to agricultural land, causing salinization and loss of productivity. Between 1960 and 1987 around 27,000 km2 of lake bed became exposed. Around 43 million t of salt have been blown off the exposed lake bed each year and deposited over an area of 200,000 km2, damaging crops and harming soils. By the end of the 1990s over 2 million ha of agricultural land in the Amu Dar’ya delta suffered from desertification and the unique tugai forest ecosystem of the area had been largely destroyed. Within the sea fish stocks have been devastated. Fisheries declined from an annual catch of 48,000 t in 1957 to almost zero in 1980. By 1982 commercial fishing had ceased, local canning plants had closed and fishing villages were abandoned, their boats stranded far from water by the retreating sea. Damage has been especially severe in the delta areas. Not only did they once have a rich flora and fauna, they were also a vital source of grazing for livestock, a spawning area for fish and a major supplier of reeds for industrial uses. The shrinkage of the Aral Sea was a human health tragedy too. The exposure of former seabed increased the incidence of dust storms. This probably lies behind the growing problem of respiratory illness in the region (Wiggs et al. 2003). The region has the highest infant and maternal mortality in the former Soviet Union. Over 70% of women aged 13–19 have kidney diseases, 23% have thyroid problems and over 80% are anaemic (Small et al. 2001). Supplies of good-quality drinking water have become scarce, forcing many people to drink water from the irrigation canals contaminated with salts, bacteria and pesticides. There have been outbreaks of typhoid and viral hepatitis as a result. A drop in the quality of drinking water has also been linked to the spread of intestinal diseases and throat cancer (Micklin 1988, Perera 1993, Stone 1999).

Aran Islands Not to be confused with the Scottish island of Arran. The Aran Islands are a group of three islands in Galway Bay, W Ireland. Essentially, tilted limestone slabs with steep cliffs facing the Atlantic, similar to the Burren. Populated early in prehistory because of their light, well-drained soils. Many stone-walled ring forts survive from later prehistory in a good state of preservation, like Dun Aengus. The landscape is criss-crossed by a dense network of irregular stone walls. Artificial soil was created by carrying sand and seaweed up from the shore for potatoes and other vegetables. 39

Aran Islands | Arctic sea ice

Otherwise the islands provided pasture for cattle and sheep (from which was produced traditional Aran knitwear). The distinctive landscape and traditional lifestyle of the islanders has attracted many visitors and commentators, including Robert J. Flaherty’s 1934 documentary Man of Aran and J.M. Synge’s The Aran Islands (1907) (Waddell et al. 1994).

Arctic sea ice Satellite records are available from 1979 and show that the long-term trend in the extent of the ice is downwards. In the five years to 2009 the five lowest summer extents have been recorded. In 2009 there was 1.7 million km2 less than in 1970, even though the cloudier summer of 2009 preserved more ice (Kwok & Rothrock, 2009). Arctic sea ice cover over the last 30,000 years can be established from the analysis of fossil algae in marine sediments. Between E Greenland and Spitzbergen there was permanent sea ice 20000BP at the last glacial maximum but significant warming from 15000BP. Data from Icelandic records provide indications of summer Arctic sea ice limits in the N Atlantic from the C10 onwards (Ogilvie 1984). When Iceland was discovered in the late C9 sea ice limits appear to have been further S, helping to give the island its name. By the time Norse settlement occurred, summer sea ice had retreated and the passage from Iceland to Greenland was generally clear in the C11. European exploration in search of gold and the North West Passage began from the C16 and continued during some of the worst phases of the Little Ice Age. From the C13 as climate shifted into the earliest phase of the Little Ice Age sea ice limits advanced, making the crossing to Greenland more difficult and closing off the Greenland fjords entirely in some years. For post-medieval times ships’ logs provide data on ice limits in the Davis Strait and Hudson Bay area. During the late 1690s, the nadir of the Little Ice Age, for a few years summer sea ice limits lay S of Iceland (Ogilvie & Jonsdottir 2000). Fluctuating sea ice limits around Iceland affected fisheries which were good in medieval times when limits were well to the N. Between the C17 and C19 fisheries around Iceland failed as ice limits pushed S. Today Arctic sea ice covers c.14 million km2 at its February maximum and about half that area at its September minimum. Weekly satellite observations since 1972 show that the maximum extent has been shrinking by about 3.6% per decade, with a tendency for the rate to accelerate in recent years. Most of the decline has occurred in the Barents, Kara and E Siberian seas N of Russia and the Sea of Okhotsk NW of Japan. Conversely there has been 40

Arctic sea ice | asbestos

an increase in sea ice in the Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea. These trends have been linked with atmospheric warming during the last 30 years over much of Siberia, Alaska and W Canada, coupled with a weaker cooling trend over W Greenland and the Labrador Sea. These trends have caused changes in air circulation which have increased the penetration of warm air into the Arctic. In 2005 the sea ice cover was the lowest in over a century. In 2007 Arctic sea ice was again at its smallest recorded extent since satellite records began in 1972. Reduction in the extent of Arctic sea ice has been c.100,000 km2/yr. On current trends the Arctic could be totally free of ice in summer by the end of the C21.

ard See light plough.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Covering 6% of England and Wales: designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 as a second tier of protected areas. Smaller, less highly valued and sometimes less accessible than national parks.

arroyo Systems of gullies in SW USA cut into fertile valley-floor deposits. Widely believed to have been the result of human activity; a range of processes have been blamed, including logging, overgrazing and soil compaction. Detailed study of the history of valley fills in this area has shown that there have been several phases of deposition and incision, some occurring before the advent of Europeans, suggesting that environmental factors like cyclical climatic change may have been responsible (Cooke & Reeves 1976).

asbestos A set of metamorphic minerals with a fibrous character valued since Roman times for resistance to fire. Much of the world’s production in recent times has come from Canada, the Appalachians and the S Ural Mts Used widely in building construction, production has fallen substantially in recent years due to its carcinogenic properties. Major efforts are being made to remove it from older buildings due to its health risks, which were known from the C19 but were identified more clearly in the 1960s.


Asia, Central

Asia, Central A loosely defined area forming the core of Eurasia with a wide range of environments embracing deserts like the Kara Kum, mountains providing snowmelt for the plains and huge areas of steppe as well as river valleys and oases with intensive irrigated agriculture. It is generally acknowledged to comprise the republics of Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, formerly parts of the USSR, covering c.2.5 million km2, and is often expanded to include parts of Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Tibet. Central Asia forms part of a huge arid belt stretching from North Africa to Manchuria. In this area agriculture was probably introduced from Mesopotamia but the region was particularly characterized by nomadic pastoralism, which emerged between c.8500BC and 6500BC in the S Levant. Livestock herds and horses provided the nomads with all their basic needs – transport for people and goods, food, drink, clothing, homes (yurts) and heating (burning animal dung). Mobility allowed them to respond to shortand medium-term climatic shifts. Nomadic herders and sedentary farmers were often in conflict but also co-operated in more symbiotic ways – e.g. in relation to trade, which was funded by urban merchants and protected by the pastoralists. From c.2000BC Central Asia became the hub of a huge trade network linking China with Europe and the Near East. Warmer, wetter climatic phases encouraged pastoralists to become more sedentary but Central Asia was also characterized by large-scale population movements into peripheral areas. These fluxes led Ellsworth Huntingdon to develop his ‘pulse of Asia’ theory which linked eruptions of nomads into the periphery of Central Asia to periods of drought at the core. The silk road, as the 4,500 km long trade route came to be known, continued to function into medieval times and later using caravans of camels. The caravans also carried with them religions such as Buddhism and Islam, as well as diseases like bubonic plague (most notoriously the Black Death). Behoet’s disease, described by the ancient Greeks, has been shown to be related almost exclusively to populations living along the line of the former silk road. The actual trade in silk began under the Han dynasty (206BC–AD229). The steppe horse riders, armed with bows and lances, became a military force to be reckoned with during the relatively brief periods when large areas of Central Asia could be united politically, as during the C13–C14AD when the Mongols created the largest contiguous empire in history – 2.4 million km2. At its peak the Mongol empire extended from E Europe to the Sea of Japan. At other times powers on the periphery – the Chinese empire, Russia or Persia – tried to annex Central Asia. Russian military conquest 42

Asia, Central | asteroid impacts

annexed huge areas of Central Asia between the 1860s and 1890s for the development of cotton production. Agriculture nevertheless remained traditional in character until the 1930s when soviet industrialization and irrigation began to transform vast areas with the creation of collective farms, the replacement of local irrigation schemes by giant region-wide projects and the major development of industry. The discovery of oil around Baku on the Caspian Sea brought major environmental changes, including pollution of the Sea itself. A major problem throughout the region has always been the availability of water. In the post-1945 period this was tackled with grandiose projects which had unexpected and often highly undesirable environmental impacts (see Aral Sea). Attempts to expand cotton production in this area on a massive scale were undermined by falls in world prices and salinization of soils in irrigated areas so that production peaked around 1980 and then started to fall. Plans to divert water from major N-flowing rivers like the Irtysh and Ob via a 22 km long irrigation canal were mooted in the 1970s but abandoned in 1986. An overoptimistic assessment of the fertility of steppe soil and its suitability for cropping led to the ill-fated Virgin Lands Scheme in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, between 1949 and 1989 large areas of Kazakhstan were used for nuclear testing, leading to the contamination of extensive areas. Since the demise of the USSR and its collective farms there has been a resurgence of nomadic pastoralism in the former soviet republics (Barfield 1993, Christian 2000).

assart From the French essarter, ‘to grub up’; in medieval times an area of land taken in and cultivated from woodland, hunting forest and waste by an individual or group of cultivators.

asteroid impacts Impacts on earth by large asteroids and comets are rare but are known to have occurred in the past, though they are outside recorded human experience. The Barringer Crater in Arizona, dating from c.50 kya, was probably caused by a meteor c.50 m diameter. An event at Tungushka in Siberia in 1908 may have been caused by the airburst of a comet or asteroid 5–10 km above the surface, felling 80 million trees over 2,150 km2. Asteroid impacts have sometimes been invoked to account for otherwise unexplained environmental crises such as mass species extinctions at the end of the Permian and Cretaceous and, more recently, the disappearance of the 43

asteroid impacts | Atlantic islands

Clovis culture in N America and extreme weather events in the N hemisphere in AD533–4.

Aswan High Dam, Egypt Completed in 1970, it was designed to control the waters of the Nile to prevent major flooding and to supply water during droughts. The dam is nearly 5 km long and almost 1 km thick at its base, having required 18 times as much material as the Great Pyramid. Its turbines produce 10 billion kw hours of electricity a year. Around 90,000 Nubians had to be moved to create the 550 km long reservoir, Lake Nasser. The dam allowed an expansion of irrigation for cash crops like cotton. Unfortunately the reservoir traps the silt formerly brought down by the Nile’s annual floods and despite increasing input of artificial fertilizer the condition of Egypt’s soils has declined, a problem increased by the tendency of irrigation water to draw up salts to the surface. The Nile Delta is also declining in fertility due to the lack of deposition of silt, while its coasts are being eroded by the sea at a rate of 70–90 m a year due to the lack of sediment to maintain them. The loss of nutrients into the E Mediterranean has had detrimental impacts on fisheries. Between 1977 and 1990 the dam produced one-third of Egypt’s electricity but much of this went to powering fertilizer factories which had previously not been needed. The Mediterranean has become saltier, encouraging an invasion of Red Sea fish species via the Suez Canal; these have colonized the Mediterranean as far W as Sicily.

Athens Grew from 50,000 inhabitants in the mid-C19 to 750,000 in 2001. The city is located in the Attica Basin and, like Los Angeles and Mexico City, is surrounded by mountains which encouraged temperature inversions and air pollution. By the 1970s pollution was causing severe damage to carvings on the Parthenon and other classical monuments. Anti-pollution measures by the urban authorities in the 1990s improved the situation but problems remain. Wildfires in the surrounding woodland and scrub have also become a hazard.

Atlantic islands Including Madeira, the Canary Islands, the Azores, Cape Verde islands and St Helena. The settlement of the Atlantic islands provides the first example 44

Atlantic islands

of the effects of a relatively technologically advanced society on environments which were either previously unsettled by humans, like St Helena or Madeira, or only lightly touched by them, as with the Canaries. The rapid changes in vegetation, soils and even climate that followed European settlement provided a cautionary tale for later generations. The human impact on these fragile environments was frequently similar to neighbouring mainland areas but its intensity was greater because of their smaller scale. In particular, it was the introduction of plantation agriculture which altered the islands’ ecosystems. The Atlantic islands were Europe’s first tropical laboratories in which European crops and farming systems were tried out and modified and new techniques developed. Portuguese navigators in the C15 pioneered a route down the W coast of Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope. This process led to the discovery of the Atlantic islands. The Canaries were known to the Romans (who may also have discovered Madeira and the Azores). Lanzarote was rediscovered in 1336. The Canaries already had an indigenous human population, known to the Spaniards as Guanches, who appeared to have originated from N Africa. They were hunter-gatherers, but constituted an opposition to the first European settlers. Between 1402 and 1496 a series of campaigns was waged against them and they gradually succumbed to European weapons and diseases. Survivors were enslaved, some being sent to the plantations in Madeira. The Guanches were the first non-European victims of European imperialism. The introduction of sugar cane from the Mediterranean transformed the Canary Islands (Fernandez-Arnesto 1982, Braudel 1972). The first sugar mill was established in 1484. In a pattern repeated on both sides of the Atlantic, deforestation to make way for sugar plantations led to a rapid decrease in moisture (Crosby 1986). By the early C16 wood was becoming scarce and regulations to protect the remaining forests were introduced (Parsons 1981). The Cape Verde Islands, 500 km from W Africa, were uninhabited, though known to Senegalese fishermen. Europeans first landed in 1456 and the islands were claimed by Portugal in 1460. Once covered by dry forest and scrub, their volcanic soils were quite fertile but large parts of the islands were too dry for agriculture. Slaves were imported to work on sugar plantations. Overgrazing by goats and cultivation of the steep slopes led to soil erosion and desertification, which were made worse by a climate with marked wet and dry seasons, periodic droughts and water shortages. From a well-wooded savanna much of the islands were converted to near-desert (Lindskog & Delaite 1996). 45

Atlantic islands

The island of Porto Santo E of Madeira was discovered in 1418 by ¨ vaz Texeira while on a voyage to Guinea. A few Gonc¸alvez Zarco and Tristao colonists were left behind while the expedition reported the discovery. On their return in 1419 the people that they had left told of having seen distant high land, the island which came to be called Madeira, ‘the wooded isle’. Before leaving Madeira Zarco, according to tradition, set fire to the forests; the fires are said to have burnt for seven years. The first act of European explorers in Madeira then was woodland clearance on a catastrophic scale. Two years later Zarco and Texeira returned to initiate full-scale colonization. The climate and fertile soil were ideally suited to the growth of sugar cane. From 1452, when the first sugar mill was authorised by the Portuguese government, sugar production expanded rapidly and within a few decades the island was the world’s foremost producer. The plantations were increasingly worked by slave labour from W Africa and the Canaries. Madeira, like the Canaries, was covered by sub-humid mountain forest of a kind once widespread in S Europe and NW Africa. The removal of this reduced soil moisture and precipitation. Most perennial streams dried up. As early as the C15 irrigation canals, or levadas, were dug to distribute water from the moister areas in the N of the island to the drier, more sunny areas of the S, in a network which eventually extended to over 2,150 km. One of the problems of colonization then was the provision of sufficient water for agriculture (Galloway 1989, Greenfield 1977). The Canaries and Madeira had a basically Mediterranean climate but the Azores, discovered c.AD1432, lay more to the N: cooler winds there did not suit the cultivation of sugar cane. A mixed farming system rather than plantation agriculture was developed there following settlement in the 1440s. More remote still was St Helena, 1,920 km from Africa and 2,880 km from Brazil. Volcanic in origin, it was colonized only by birds and insects, and plants whose seeds had been blown there or washed ashore. As a result the island developed a distinctive isolated flora and fauna. Many of St Helena’s plants had as their closest relatives plants in Africa which had long been extinct. Distinctive woodlands developed dominated at different altitudes by characteristic species – scrubwood (Commdendrum rugosum) at lower levels, gumwood (Commdendrum rubustum) at 400–600 m and Trochetiopsis erythdoxylon up to 650 m. It was the tragedy of this and other Atlantic islands that their unique ecosystems were so vulnerable to human interference. St Helena was discovered in AD1502 by the Portuguese. It became a staging post and watering point on the route to the Cape of Good Hope. The interior of the island was largely covered by forest. It did not experience 46

Atlantic islands | Audubon, John James (1791–1851)

plantation agriculture as early or on such a scale as Madeira or the Canaries. The first Portuguese settlers in the mid-C16 introduced goats, which were highly effective agents of deforestation. During the C17 Anglo–Dutch rivalry led to rival crews of visiting ships cutting down groves of fruit trees to deny them to their enemies. Development by the English East India Company in the later C17 led to rapid land degradation. When the Dutch annexed the Cape of Good Hope the English established a permanent colony on the island in 1659 leading to the rapid development of plantations. The effect of this on a mountainous island with variable rainfall was devastating. Erosion was reported as early as 1670. Today over 60% of the island is barren, known appropriately as the Crown Wastes. The colony’s early administration seemed unaware of contemporary developments in the West Indies where the undesirable impact of deforestation and the establishment of plantations was rapidly becoming evident (Grove 1995). The danger of adopting stocking densities and land use methods derived from England, under different conditions of climate and terrain, was not appreciated.

Atlantic period A period of warm, oceanic climate in NW Europe c.9,500–7,000 kya.

Atlantis Plato’s account of a lost civilization destroyed by a catastrophe and sunk in the ocean in a single day and night has been attributed by some to a folk memory of the eruption of Thera, transposed by artistic licence beyond the Pillars of Hercules and into the Atlantic. The story was revived in the C19 with various possible locations suggested, including the Mayan and Aztec empires. The development of plate tectonics theories from the 1960s made a lost continent seem increasingly improbable but a range of locations in almost every ocean has nevertheless been put forward (Burroughs 2005, Zangger 1993).

Audubon, John James (1791–1851) French naturalist and artist famous for his illustrations of N American wildlife, especially birds. His interests in birds developed into a project to paint every bird species in N America. His Birds of America (1827–38) showed them in their natural habitats. His example encouraged the


Audubon, John James (1791–1851) | Australia

foundation of the Audubon Society in 1846, the first large-scale conservation society in N America and still the most influential (Ford 1988).

auroch Bos primigenius, ancestor of modern domestic cattle which lived in Europe, Asia and N Africa but which has been extinct since 1627 when the last one died in Poland. Aurochs were larger than most modern cattle, up to 2 m high at the shoulder and weighing c.1,000 kg. Domestication began c.8,000 years ago. In the 1920s Hans and Lutz Heck tried to recreate the aurochs by selective breeding, producing Heck cattle that may look like aurochs but are smaller. They have been introduced into a number of wildlife refuges like Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands (Van Vuure 2005, Vera 2000).

Australia The driest continent with the poorest soils, and the most limited water ˜ o cycles have major effects on climate and supplies in which El Nin vegetation, with great inter-annual and inter-decadal variability. Much research into the environmental history of Australia has focused on the SE, which is most densely populated but least typical, rather than the desert which makes up 70% of the country’s area. The legacy of the last ice age is salt in the soils while the dominant vegetation types are adapted to fire and many species of plant depend on fire for seeding. The present environment of Australia is a palimpsest recording a history of climatic change, nutrientpoor soils, burning and increasing aridity (Dovers 1994, Dunlap 1999, Main 1996). The country was settled from c.60,000 years ago by aborigines, who burnt the forests to improve the grass cover for grazing animals. Rapid environmental changes have occurred since European settlement with half the forest (three-quarters of the rain forests) cleared. The first European explorers and settlers were struck by the distinctiveness of the flora and fauna which made Australia seem more like a new planet than a new continent; the result of a separate act of creation. Rain forests have been seen as an intrusion into what was considered the ‘ancient’ Australian vegetation. It is now clear that the forests were actually of ancient origin, a relict of the flora which preceded the sclerophyllous vegetation usually seen as uniquely Australian (Sanderson 2008). Colonial governments sold large areas of land to colonists: at first in large blocks for grazing sheep and cattle, from the 1860s in smaller units for cultivation, using irrigation water from the Murray-Darling and other catchments. The clearance of trees for agriculture led to salinization of 48


soils. Overgrazing, rabbits and droughts caused widespread soil erosion in the mid-C20. Rabbits were introduced in 1859 and prickly pear in 1839; both became major pests. Agricultural pests have been seen mainly as exotic imports, notably rabbits, but in the high rainfall forests of E Australia the main pests were indigenous insects, birds and marsupials (Frost 1998). Tasmania was linked to Australia until c.15,000 years ago and New Guinea became an island c.8,000 years ago. The earliest humans appear to have arrived c.55,000 years ago during a period of low sea level and environmental stability. A wave of megafauna extinctions, including 85% of creatures over 45 kg, occurred within about 5,000 years of their arrival. Large-scale burning of the vegetation by the aborigines, accidentally or deliberately to control the vegetation, may have been the prime cause (Gillespie et al. 1978, Miller et al. 1999). In the period before European settlement great changes occurred in climate, vegetation, sea level and the shape of the coast. Views on the impact of the aborigines have varied from minimal to considerable, the latter now seeming more probable, their technology having become more sophisticated over time. They also introduced the dingo, which had significant effects on smaller mammals, but they did not cause large-scale land degradation like the Europeans. The earliest dated human site in Australia is c.53000BP in Arnhem Land. By 30000BP they had reached Tasmania where, at the last glacial maximum, they formed the world’s most S human population. Aborigines have been seen by Europeans as being in balance with nature but they were not the uniform, primitive pre-agricultural society, conservative and unchanging, that was once thought. Their society was egalitarian, based on kinship with powerful elders. The population at the time of the arrival of the first Europeans may have been as low as 300,000 or as high as 1.2 million. The E and SE areas were more densely inhabited, with more sedentary lifestyles in villages based on fishing. By 30,000 years ago they had occupied most of the country, including the more arid areas (Lourandos 1997, Mulvaney & Kamminga 1999). It is also a mistake so see aborigines as completely isolated before European contact: there was regular contact with New Guinea across the Torres Strait. In Arnhem Land outside contacts had a later, more intensive history as Indonesian traders developed links with indigenous peoples, possibly causing social changes and introducing innovations like sea-going canoes. 49


The first national parks near Melbourne and Sydney were more for recreation than protecting wilderness. An environmental movement began to develop in the 1960s and 1970s following trends in N America, with opposition to drilling for oil near the Great Barrier Reef (Dargavel 1995, Hutton & Connors 1999, Pyne 1991). The Australian sugar cane industry began in the coastlands of E Australia in the 1860s. Vegetation was cleared not just for sugar cultivation but also for fuel for the sugar boilers, leading to erosion and loss of biodiversity. Clearing of woodlands continued into the 1980s and 1990s (Griggs 2007). In Queensland soil erosion emerged as a major problem in the 1930s in sugar growing areas due to poor farming techniques such as bare fallowing and cultivation on slopes. Many cane growers were slow to adopt conservation measures but from the 1980s they used the technique of trash blanketing (Griggs 2006). In irrigated areas like Victoria the emergence of salt as a problem in agriculture was due both to an environmental predisposition and also to a political philosophy which saw irrigation as good in social and economic terms. The state authorities underestimated the actual and potential scale of the salinity problem, blaming individual farmers rather than systemic failure. Australia’s environmental history has been seen, mistakenly, as comprising 40,000 years with no change, then 200 years of drastic transformation. Early settlers saw the aborigines as being closer to animals than humans, people who had failed to develop the resources of the land and so had no right to it. The aborigines have spent much of the last 200 years trying to influence incoming Europeans and get their attitudes across, with some recent success in terms of land reform. Archaeological and palaeoecological research has shown that the ways of life of the aborigines in the past varied greatly over time and space with environmental changes. Research has also indicated that aboriginal society was capable of monitoring long-term as well as short-term environmental changes and adjusting their numbers and subsistence strategies as appropriate (Peterson 1986). The ecological impact of Australia’s first inhabitants may have been considerable: 45,000 years ago the spread of eucalyptus species into tropical rain forests may have been due to human use of fire in hunting. During the last 40,000 years there has been considerable variation in temperature, sea level and especially rainfall. At the last glacial maximum conditions were relatively cool and dry. After the Pleistocene precipitation and biomass increased providing better conditions for hunter-gatherers. Post-glacial environmental changes, often quite sudden, required humans to be flexible 50


and adaptable, coping with short-term problems like drought and floods and longer-term changes. Following European arrival landscape change was rapid, with deforestation and the increase in pasture to support a monoculture of cattle and sheep. It was the aborigines who developed a long-term understanding of the environment and how to cope with variable conditions. Europeans, by contrast, were the real nomads who saw the land only in terms of the resources which could be extracted from it (Atwood 1996, Butlin 1993, Griffiths & Robin 1997, Morphy 1999, Peterson 1986, Pyne 1991). There is a common belief that early European settlers hated their new environment but Bonyhady (2000) shows that some delighted in it and sought to protect it (Griffiths 2001, Mulligan & Hill 2001). Early free settlers, trying desperately to recreate English society, found the Australian environment hostile and forbidding. For the convicts and their descendants who formed the bulk of the population, however, the Australian landscape was a benign refuge from the brutality of servitude (Boyce 2008). It has been claimed that early settlers experienced feelings of hatred, fear and alienation towards the Australian environment, including a hatred of trees by farmers, especially in the dense rain forest of the E which was difficult to clear. By contrast C19–C20 tourists, naturalists and artists delighted in the Australian environment (Frost 2002). The ash forests of Victoria were logged and cleared for agriculture. In 1939 1.4 million ha were burned. Clearing woodland in Australia was especially difficult because of the dominance of hardwoods, the constant regeneration of trees from suckers and the ability of eucalypts to regenerate after severe fire. Ring-barking was the most common method of clearing, with the stumps left to rot. In S Australia much of the inland area was developed for sheep farming during the wet years of the 1850s and early 1860s. Droughts from 1864 led to the landscape being overgrazed and its farms abandoned. Surveyor General G.W. Goyder established a line marking the limit of rainfall sufficient for farming, the Goyder Line, but a series of wet years in the 1870s encouraged the government to resell at higher prices the sheep farms of the 1860s as small wheat farms: railways spread and towns sprang up beyond the Goyder Line. Then further drought occurred: farms were amalgamated into larger units and then reverted to sheep rearing from the late 1870s (Diamond 2005, Dolan 1990, Glantz 1976, Somerville 1986, Wilhite 2000).


avalanches | Avebury

avalanches The rapid flow of snow downslope in mountain areas set off naturally or by human activities. Major ones can incorporate rocks and uprooted trees but they are started by, and are mainly composed of, snow. Avalanches are made up of a start zone, the path along which the debris flows and a run out where the debris slows and is deposited. They may consist of powder snow, wet snow or large slabs which can break off when disturbed by skiers or walkers. Avalanche hazards are nothing new. Hannibal is said to have lost a significant proportion of his forces through avalanches when crossing the Alps in 218BC. The frequency of major avalanches has fluctuated throughout history and may have reached peaks during the first half of the C17 and around 1830 (Jomelli & Petch 2004). In c.95% of avalanche incidents the victims themselves trigger the disaster. In the Alps recent winters have been getting shorter and less cold, encouraging heavier spring snowfalls and dramatically increasing the risk of major avalanches. Avalanches most often occur on slopes of between 30– and 45– . Documentary evidence and field data allow avalanche-prone areas to be identified and zoned accordingly to prevent unsafe new developments. Avalanche risk in some mountain areas has increased with deforestation and the creation of ski runs. In areas which are prone to avalanches walls and fences can be placed above the starting zone to prevent the accumulation of snow in critical areas while avalanche sheds can protect roads and railway lines. Afforestation of the lower slopes helps protect settlements below. In the runout zone at the base of the slopes banks can deflect the course of debris (Smith 1992).

Avebury Massive Neolithic henge monument and stone circle, Wiltshire, England, 32 km from Stonehenge. The scale of the bank and ditch enclosing the monument is impressive: the henge is 420 m in diameter with a ditch originally 21 m wide and 11 m deep. Inside is a stone circle of 335 m diameter with 98 stones up to 40 tons in weight and two smaller inner circles of 108 m and 98 m diameter. From the henge avenues of paired standing stones lead out into the surrounding landscape. The henge is the focus for a whole ritual landscape which includes Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric earthwork in Europe, and the chambered tomb of West Kennet. This complex of monuments dates from between c.3700 and c.2500BC, though the detailed chronology of the various phases of development is far from clear. Environmental archaeology has indicated 52

Avebury | Aztecs

that alteration of the environment of this area by Neolithic and Bronze Age societies occurred on a major scale (Brown et al. 2004, Malone 1989, Pollard & Reynolds 2005).

Azores See Atlantic islands.

Aztecs Civilization focused on S Central Mexico. The distinctive environment of the Valley of Mexico is a closed high altitude catchment surrounded by mountains on all sides except the N. In the past the lower temperatures, due to the altitude, allowed only one crop per year with the danger of frosts. Water drains into a series of shallow saline lakes, providing a range of resources and facilitating transport. Irrigation was needed to guarantee crop growth and systems of high water table cultivation (chinampas) were developed. Before the Spaniards arrived this was one of the most productive agricultural areas in the Americas with a population of around 3 million. Material eroded from the mountains was deposited in the basin forming rich soils. Around the lakes and on the foothills these were easy to work with hand tools though in piedmont areas soils were prone to erosion and were protected by terrace cultivation. The mountains were covered with pine and oak forest supplying timber, firewood and charcoal. The N fringes of the Valley of Mexico were drier and the S ones lower and more tropical. The Aztecs developed from the Toltecs and before them the Teotihuacan culture as the last in a series of urbanized civilizations. The Teotihuacan empire peaked c.AD150–AD750, the city which was its focus having a maximum population of up to 150,000, making it one of the world’s largest in its day, with a regular grid of streets, before it was burnt and abandoned. It was named by the Aztecs, some centuries later, as the ‘city of the gods’. The Toltecs flourished c.AD950–AD1150. The Aztecs began migrating into central Mexico, probably from the N, c.1150. The final centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards were marked by expansion into an empire, a population explosion, and spread of agriculture. The capital, Tenochtitlan, was located on an island in L Texcoco. Aztec life and economy can be reconstructed from archaeology, surviving Aztec pictorial documents, reports by the conquering Spanish and early colonial chronicles and administrative records (Smith 2003).


B badlands A term used to describe intensely eroded arid country with deep gully systems separated by sharp ridges, occurring naturally in arid and semi-arid areas like N and S Dakota, USA where the term was first coined by early French explorers. Badlands can also occur as the result of unsuitable agricultural practices leading to soil erosion, or from mining activity.

Baffin Island N Canada. Aerial photographs show a marked colour contrast on the land surface with a sharp boundary which, when traced on the ground, was found to be caused by a contrast in the size of lichens on boulders and rock outcrops. Lichenometry made it possible to show that the lichens within the boundary had only been growing from the C18 while those outside were older. The boundary is thought to mark the limit of permanent snowfields which accumulated during the most severe phase of the Little Ice Age. It has been suggested that permanent snow was close to building up to a point where positive feedback might have set in, with the expanding snowfields reducing summer temperatures and encouraging the survival of more and more extensive areas of snow (Williams 1978).

Baikal, Lake

E Siberia: the world’s largest lake, 23,000 km3 in volume containing 20% of the earth’s fresh water; its deepest point is 1,637 m with a surface area of 31,468 km2. The Bratsk Dam (1961) raised the lake’s level by 1 m and its 54

Baikal, Lake | Bangladesh

area by 500 km2. The lake has great biodiversity with a particularly high proportion of species found only in this lake. The development of industries and military installations around the lake has led to pollution problems. Logging has caused erosion on surrounding mountains and considerable concern remains for the welfare of the lake’s ecosystems.

Baltic Sea

The largest brackish water body in the world. Area 412,000 km2, maximum depth 459 m. 150,000 km2 of the N Baltic is covered by sea ice in winter. Around 85 million people live within the drainage basin of the Baltic, most of them in the S. As the Fennoscandian ice sheet began to melt about 14.5 kya the freshwater Baltic ice lake flooded the region to the S of the ice and expanded until c.12.9 kya when the ice receded and allowed c.7,000 km3 of fresh water in (Burroughs 2005). In C9–C10 the Baltic was dominated by Viking settlements and trading links. In medieval times the Hanseatic League founded many cities around its shores. The Baltic is vulnerable to pollution because of its semi-enclosed nature, which causes toxins to be flushed out very slowly. Pollution derives from pulp and paper industries, the inflow of sewage and nitrates and phosphates from agriculture causing eutrophication and algal blooms. Overfishing has caused a major decline in fish stocks since the 1980s. In 1992 the Helsinki Convention was signed by countries bordering the sea to protect marine life from pollution at a time when the Russian military was thought to have dumped nuclear waste in the sea. The Baltic is now claimed to be one of the world’s most polluted seas.

Bangladesh The 7th most populous country in the world and one of the most densely populated, Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorest countries. With an area of 147,000 km2 and a population of 156 million in 2009 Bangladesh has an average density of 874 persons per km2. About one-tenth of the country is under a metre above mean sea level. Bangladesh mostly comprises a deltaic plain of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers forming the largest delta in the world, bringing huge amounts of sediment into the Bay of Bengal and creating some of the most fertile but vulnerable land on earth. It is also one of the least forested countries (only 1.4% of its area), the rest having been cleared or degraded. Situated between the N Indian Ocean and the Himalayas, its location gives Bangladesh monsoons, which are vital



for agriculture but also expose it to disasters, including tropical cyclones, storm surges and floods, bringing loss of life on a massive scale. There have been increasing problems with the abstraction of water upstream in Nepal, India and Bhutan with potential problems of desertification in some areas. The prevalence of diseases like cholera transmitted by contaminated drinking water led, from the 1970s, to the drilling of some 4 m shallow wells. Unfortunately from 1993 it was discovered that 30% or more of these were contaminated by arsenic (due to geological conditions) and arsenic pollution has become a major issue. Floods have been attributed to deforestation and soil erosion in the Himalayas increasing runoff, but this view has been challenged. Monsoon rains bring seasonal flooding each year over huge areas. High tides in the Bay of Bengal can back up rivers, while cyclones can cause additional storm surges. The worst floods are caused by a combination of these processes occurring simultaneously. In a really bad year, like 1988, 60% of the country may be flooded. A cyclone and tidal surge in 1970 caused c.500,000 deaths. Recent global warming and sea level rise make the problem even worse, but historic flood disasters are recorded as far back as the C16 (Schabas et al. 2006). Incursions of seawater cause problems of salt accumulation in soils. The extent of soil salinization varies from year to year depending on the length of the dry season, and storm surges can push salt pollution further inland (Warrick & Farmer 1990). A rise in mean sea level of 10 cm would submerge 2% of Bangladesh. A 30 cm rise would affect 5% and a one-metre rise 10%. Some flooding would be directly due to the effects of sea level rise but some also to the backing up of rivers, especially the Meghna, causing the inundation of agricultural lands on either side well inland, an effect which could be increased by onshore monsoon winds and storm surges. The Bay of Bengal is a notorious source area for tropical cyclones. Over half the world’s tropical cyclones resulting in losses of life of over 5,000 people have occurred here. Casualties during cyclones are due mainly to storm surges, which can reach 10 m or more above mean sea level. Past surges have penetrated 100 km inland. In 1970 a storm surge killed over 250,000. In 1991 a cyclone caused a death toll of at least 138,000 people. In 1998 the worst flood in at least 100 years lasted for 78 days. Sea level rise also threatens the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forests in the world (6,000 km2), and the wide range of mammals and birds that inhabit it. The forests also protect highly populated areas inland from storm surges. 56

bankfull discharge | Barents Sea

bankfull discharge The maximum height of water in a river channel beyond which any further rise will lead to flooding.

Banks, Sir Joseph (1743–1820) Botanist, president of the Royal Society. Joined Cook’s 1778 expedition to the S Pacific. His account of the voyage and its discoveries had a major impact on European science. He became a major patron of science and exploration in his later years.

Bantu The migration and spread of the Bantu language group, originating in modern Cameroon, was one of the most important cultural changes of the last few millennia. Reasons for movement may have included population pressure and environmental stress in their home area but superior iron weapons and tools may have helped them adapt to different environments. Expansion is thought to have begun within W Africa after the development of agriculture c.3000–2500BC, then moving S and E from 1500–1000BC. Bantu speakers developed techniques of agriculture and tool making which allowed them to colonize areas with widely varying ecologies, at greater population densities than previous hunter-gatherers. In S and E Africa they developed livestock herding. By 1500BC Bantu speakers had reached the great central African rain forests and by 500BC the savanna in what is now Angola and Zambia. Around 1000BC another group had settled around the lakes of E Africa, a rich environment allowing a dense population to develop. Between the C13–15AD larger Bantu-speaking states developed in the lakes area, the savanna and on the R Zambesi where the Monomatapa kings built the complex at Great Zimbabwe. By the time this centre had declined Bantu people had colonized S Africa, one branch developing into the Matabele and Zulu (Bousman 1998).

Barents Sea Between N Norway, the Novaya Zemla and Svalbard. Named after the C16 Dutch explorer Willem Barents who sought the North East Passage. Due to the N Atlantic Drift the S half of the sea is ice-free throughout the year and has high biological productivity with the world’s largest deep water coral reef and a high density of seabirds. This was a whaling area from the early C17. Today it is considered vulnerable to overfishing and pollution 57

Barents Sea | battlefields

from oil spillages. The Russian nuclear powered submarine Kursk accidentally sank off Norway in October 1989 and barges with nuclear waste have been deliberately sunk off the Novaya Zemla. The sea is shallow so that the impacts of large-scale fishing have been intense, as in the N Sea, and have led to a collapse of fish stocks. Both fishing and oil developments threaten biodiversity. This is one of the World Wildlife Fund’s priority areas.

barley Derived from the wild grass Hordeum spontaneum, the earliest domesticated variety, H. vulgare, appears to have been domesticated in the Fertile Crescent at least 8,000 years ago, possibly at the S end of the Sea of Galilee (see agricultural origins, Near East). It was developed quite early for the purpose of brewing beer but was also a food crop and a source of animal fodder. It was grown in areas where wheat did less well. Though not as tolerant of winter cold as varieties of winter wheat it had a shorter growing season and was relatively drought tolerant. In Mesopotamia it was more tolerant of salts in irrigated soils. In medieval NW Europe it was a peasant staple while wheat bread was the choice of the better off.

barrage, tidal A dam on an estuary for generating renewable energy using the difference in height between high and low tide. Using twice-daily tides barrages are potentially a more reliable way of generating electricity than wind energy. Tide-powered water mills were in use from Roman times: one stood on the R Fleet in London. An example from the late C8AD has been excavated at Strangford Lough, N Ireland. Several, including one at Dover, are mentioned in the Domesday Book. By the C18AD there were over 70 in use in London and many others in the British Isles, France and N America. The only large modern tidal barrage is on the R Rance in Brittany, which opened in 1966 and generates 240 mW. In Britain they have been proposed for estuaries, including the Severn, Mersey and Morecambe Bay, but their high cost and the potential damage to estuarial ecosystems, especially birdlife, has prevented them from getting the go-ahead.

battlefields Often important as heritage sites and in terms of national identity, the environments of battlefields are rarely spectacular or striking. Although 58

battlefields | bears

battlefield sites have been commemorated and preserved in the past and the influence of their landscapes on military manoeuvres studied in great detail, battlefield archaeology has emerged only recently as a subject in its own right. Examples include the use of metal detectors to locate and map the distribution of spent cartridges at the site of the Little Bighorn in Montana where in 1983 a wildfire swept through the area and burnt off the vegetation to expose the battlefield (Fox 1997). Environmental changes since the battle may render the site almost unrecognizable (e.g. Bannockburn) or the features of the landscape may be substantially intact, as at Waterloo and Gettysburg. The commemoration of what happened on the battlefield may be one-sided, emphasizing the story of the winners, or sometimes romanticising the losers (The Alamo, Culloden). Commemoration may also over-emphasize the role of certain groups: e.g. the Anglos rather than the Hispanics on the Texan side at the Alamo (Carman & Carman 2006, Foard 2003, Fox 1997, Lloyd 1998, Newsome 2003, Pollard 2004, Pollard & Banks 2008, Pollard & Oliver 2002).

beaches Accumulations of unconsolidated sand and shingle along marine or lake shorelines due to wave action under low-energy, sheltered conditions or abundant sediment supply. Ridges at the back of a beach, above the reach of normal waves, are storm beaches thrown up by severe onshore gales. Longshore drift of beach material, caused by waves striking a coastline at an angle, can move sand and shingle along a coast: it can be countered by the use of groynes and other types of barrier. Beaches have long been used for launching small craft like fishing boats. Isostatic and eustatic changes in sea level, or changes in lake levels, can create raised beaches at altitudes above modern ones; these may be attractive to settlement and colonization. The growing popularity of sea bathing in the C19 and the rise of holiday resorts turned beaches into major tourist venues. Where erosion at resorts has been in danger of removing beaches entirely material has sometimes been added artificially.

bears Widely spread in temperate woodlands following the end of the last glaciations, bears were hunted for food and fur, in many areas to extinction. In prehistoric Europe and elsewhere hunting bears with arrows and spears was a high-risk activity. Bears were respected and revered by native American hunters for their strength and wisdom. In late medieval Europe 59

bears | bees

bear meat was an aristocratic luxury but in mountain areas bears were regularly hunted because of the threat they posed to livestock. The brown bear (Ursus artos artos) was probably extinct in Britain by c.AD900. In N America, as the frontier of settlement moved W in the early C19, bear hunting increased: Davy Crockett, the famous American frontiersman, first achieved fame as a notable bear hunter. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) evolved from brown bears as an adaptation to harsh Arctic environments. Bear populations in the USA and Canada have been stabilised by conservation and regulation of hunting: there are now around half a million black bears in N America. The bear population in W Europe has been reduced to six small areas; those in France, Italy and Spain are especially vulnerable. Spain has 70–90 but France only c.9. In Scandinavia and E Europe bear numbers are holding steady: there are c.14,000 in Europe overall, about half of them in Romania. In 2005 one was seen in the Swiss Alps, the first for a century. Attempts to re-settle them in Austria, France and Italy have not been popular with local farmers.

beavers Beavers (Castor canadensis – N America and C. fiber – Eurasia) were extinct in Britain by the mid-C16. Beavers manipulate the physical environment more than any other animal except humans by cutting down trees, building dams and blocking streams, checking soil erosion and raising water tables. Their felling of trees to make dams is well known from N America but European beavers only do this when they cannot burrow, so their effects on early landscapes are less clear. Their fur was particularly valued for hats in the past. In N America they survived a wave of destruction in the C18 and C19. In the C20 they have been reintroduced in many parts of Europe from the Netherlands to the Elbe and appear to be doing well. Recently they have been reintroduced in small colonies in England and Scotland. Release of animals into the wild is likely if these experiments are successful, although landowner and fishing interests are against them (Coles 2006, Lovecraft 2007).

bees The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the most important insect to have (effectively) been domesticated by humans. They may have originated in Africa and spread to Europe but they have been taken from Europe to most colonial areas. Wild honey was gathered from c.7000BC and humans appear to have first kept bees c.4000–3000BC. They were introduced to S America 60

bees | Bhopal, India

by AD1530 if not earlier and to N America by AD1638 (American Indians called them ‘white man’s flies’) and later to Australia and New Zealand.

bell pit A technique of mining for minerals like coal located close to the surface. Shafts were sunk to the deposit which was then worked around the base of the shaft, producing a bell shape in section. Some timbering might be undertaken but working generally ceased before this was needed. A simple technology, bell pits were used from prehistoric times (Grime’s Graves) and as late as the C19 (Roe 2003).

Beresford, Maurice (1920–2005) Economic and landscape historian, University of Leeds, England. A pioneer, with W.G. Hoskins, of the study of landscape history in Britain. Particularly remembered for studies of deserted medieval villages (Beresford 1954) and the excavation, with John Hurst, of the village of Wharram Percy in the Yorkshire Wolds (Aston et al. 2006).

Beringia A former area of land between Siberia and Alaska exposed during the last ice age forming a bridge between Asia and N America across which the first hunter-gatherers are believed by many to have entered the Americas. Beringia was exposed 75–45 kya. 40–25 kya brought a cold climatic phase and the land bridge formed only a narrow strip. From 25–14 kya it was even colder and the bridge was wider. Around 18 kya world sea level was about 300 m lower than today (Fagan 1991). Beringia was drowned by rising sea levels 10–11 kya.

Berne Convention An international nature conservation treaty signed in 1979, it came into force 1982 with the aim of conserving European wildlife and natural habitats.

Bhopal, India Site of the worst industrial accident known in recent times. On 3 December 1984 at a disused pesticides plant owned by the Union Carbide Corporation at Bhopal a series of safety failures led to water contaminating a tank of 61

Bhopal, India | biodiversity

chemicals, producing a violent reaction that released a cloud of 42 t of methyl isocyanate gas over the city: over 500,000 people were exposed to it. At least 20,000 are reported to have died from exposure to the gas and c.120,000 are still suffering from its effects. A protracted legal battle in the US and Indian courts led to an initial settlement of $470 million. The site has still not been cleaned up and has continued to contaminate drinking water and soil. In 2001 Dow Chemicals purchased Union Carbide but has refused to accept responsibility for cleaning up the site (Chouhan et al. 1994, Hazarika 1999).

bilharzia (schistosomiasis) A disease caused by parasitic flatworms or flukes which use humans as a primary host and snails as a secondary one. Irrigation ditches are especially good habitats for the snails. Around 1 billion people are at risk and c.300 million infected, especially in Africa, parts of S America, the Caribbean, Middle East and Asia. The mortality rate is low but it is a source of chronic illness. There is currently no vaccine (Farley 1991).

bioarchaeology The scientific study of human and animal skeletal remains from archaeological sites, which can reveal a lot about the nutrition, health, lifestyle and environment of people in the past. The study of tooth enamel can show periods of malnutrition while the occurrence of certain diseases such as syphilis can also be demonstrated. Occupational backgrounds can sometimes be inferred from deformities such as the over-developed muscles of late medieval archers or later miners. Chemical analysis of bones can also allow inferences to be made regarding diet and nutrition while stable isotope analysis of oxygen and strontium can vary with geological formations, allowing inferences to be made about past population movements and where people lived at different periods in their lives (Larsen 1997, Parker Pearson 2001).

biodiversity An abbreviation of ‘biological diversity’; a measure of the variety of genes, species and ecosystems in an area or globally. The Rio Convention of 1992 popularised the term, which was first used in 1965, but the importance of the concept was realized much earlier by environmental writers like Aldo Leopold (1946). The assumption is that most human activities reduce 62

biodiversity | bison

biodiversity and that a decrease in biodiversity within an ecosystem threatens its stability. An extreme loss of biodiversity is species extinction due to habitat fragmentation and destruction linked to human activities (Wilson 1988, 1999).

biological exchanges Between different regions and continents have been occurring for millennia due to human agency, e.g. the spread of domesticated crops and animals since the Neolithic, and the weeds which accompanied the crops. Deliberate exchanges between early civilizations via trading links are also known, e.g. the Tang dynasty in China C7–8AD imported cotton from India. Such contacts could also transmit diseases, e.g. the Black Death travelled along Mongol trade routes. In Eurasia there have been biological exchanges within the zone from the Mediterranean to China. In the Americas the diffusion of maize and in Africa the spread of crops through the Bantu migrations occurred c.2,000 years ago.

biome The largest scale of communities recognized by ecologists comprising groups of ecosystems with similar characteristics relating to similar climate and soils. Examples include tundra, boreal forests, deserts, savanna and tropical deciduous forests.

birth rate Total number of births per year per 1,000 total population (crude birth rate); does not consider the age structure of the population, including the percentage of the population of childbearing age. It is difficult to compare crude rates for areas with different population structures. Demographers often use standardized birth rate, which is what a crude birth rate would have been for a population if the age and sex structure had been the same as a standardized population.

bison, American (Bison bison), European (B. bonasus – Wisent) Largest terrestrial animals in America and Europe (the European variety is still endangered). In N America there were c.30 million in 1800, but under 1,000 by 1900. The cultural and ecological encounter between native Americans and Europeans was the main cause of this destruction. Before the 63

bison | Black Death

advent of horses on the prairies bison were hunted by stampeding them over cliffs. By the C19 drought, domestic livestock and horses threatened the ecosystem of the American W. The C19 trade in buffalo robes by the American Fur Co. greatly exceeded the C18 trade in beaver skins. Destruction of forests along the main rivers, partly as fuel for steamboats, reduced the bisons’ winter habitats. By 1840 the plains Indians were bringing 100,000 buffalo robes a year to the steamboats in addition to those killed for food and inter-tribal trade (Branch 1997). By then the bison population could only survive for as long as hunting did not increase and there were no major environmental disasters like droughts. The shift of the plains Indians to a nomadic hunting lifestyle on horseback reduced the food output from agriculture. From the 1840s livestock and wagon trains damaged extensive areas of the bisons’ grazing and diseases like anthrax began to have an impact on their numbers. The drop in bison population caused destitution among the Indians, forcing them to move W and leading to warfare between tribes. Between 1870 and 1883 European hunters slaughtered millions of bison, encouraged by the federal authorities, which wanted to force the Indians on to reservations. Environmental factors such as drought, overgrazing and exotic livestock diseases (see diseases, animals) also reduced bison numbers (Hughes 1983, Isenbery 2000). The Wisent is the heaviest remaining land mammal in Europe despite being lighter than the N American species; surviving animals have forest habitats. It was extinct in N Sweden by the C11AD, in S England by the C12 but survived in the Ardennes and Vosges until the C15 and in E Europe into the C18 and C19. The last wild animal was killed in Poland in 1919 but a small population survived in zoos and they have been successfully reintroduced into most E European countries. There are plans to re-establish them in Germany and the Netherlands.

Black Death A particularly severe pandemic which affected large areas of Eurasia in the mid-C14AD. Fleas carried a complex series of bacterial strains of Yersinia pestis, which caused bubonic plague. The Black Death is thought to have originated in Central Asia in AD1338–9. It reached China and India in 1346 and the Black Sea by 1347. It was then carried to Constantinople, Italy and Marseilles. It spread from there to W Europe, reaching Bristol in August 1348 and Scotland the following summer. As well as the bubonic variety, which killed between 30–75% of those infected, it has been suggested that pheumonic plague, transmitted by droplets (90–95% mortality), and 64

Black Death | Black Sea

septicemic plague, caused by the infection poisoning the bloodstream, may also have been present at times. Around one-third of the population, and in some areas half, died. Overall the population of France is thought to have fallen by 42% (Gottfried 1983, McNeill 1976). Global population fell from c.450 million to 350–375 million by 1400. Although the consensus view, backed by skeletal research, still attributes the Black Death to bubonic plague, not all historians agree. Twigg (1984) has argued that the Black Death in Britain may have been the first lethal appearance of anthrax rather than bubonic plague. A viral hemorrhagic fever has also been proposed. The environmental impact of the population crash was dramatic and far reaching. Settlements were abandoned, though more often gradually during the later C14 and C15 than in the immediate wake of the pandemic, and cultivation limits retreated downhill as survivors migrated to occupy farms in more favoured areas. There was widespread regeneration of woodland in more marginal areas. The shortage of labour and of tenants to lease farms transformed the feudal system, shifting bargaining power from lord to peasant (Benedictow 2004, Bolton 1996, Byrne 2004, Fitch 1987, Herlihy 1997, Horrox 1994, Jillings 2003, 2005, Naphy & Spicer 2001, Ranger & Slack 1992, Slack 1985, 1992, Smout 1978) (see bubonic plague).

Black Sea A freshwater lake at the end of the last ice age, c.150 m lower than now. The narrow strip of land separating it from the Mediterranean is thought to have been breached by c.8.4 kya, an event perhaps linked to the draining of Lake Agassiz (Ryan & Pitman 1998, Ryan et al. 1997). There has been speculation about the impact of this flooding on surrounding populations and the spread of agriculture into Europe by displaced populations. Another interpretation is that the Black Sea rose more gradually to reach the level of the Bosphorous c.11–10 kya. The pre-existing L Euxine formed a giant oasis for farmers. Before 6000BC farming had moved on to the plains of Hungary and into S Bulgaria. Around 5600BC the rising Mediterranean flooded the Euxine, which rose at a rate of c.15 cm/day. The Black Sea was created within two years and it has been suggested that this was the origin of the biblical flood legend. Many refugees may have moved into the Danube Valley, perhaps by-passing existing agricultural communities, and on to central Europe (Ryan & Pitman 1998). The breakthrough created an inrush of water estimated, at its peak, as 400 times the volume of Niagara 65

Black Sea | bog bursts

Falls. The conversion of the original, much smaller lake into an arm of the ocean was slow enough for people to have moved out of the way of the rising waters. The area flooded has been estimated as between 50 and 150,000 km2. Today the lake has fisheries for tuna, anchovy and mullet, which have been in rapid decline since the 1970s. Pollution from industry and agriculture is a serious concern. Comb jellyfish (Mnemiopsis leidyi) from E N America have been spreading, to the detriment of the indigenous fish species (Aksu et al. 2002, Travis 1993).

blanket bog A continuous cover of peat bog on flat land and gentle slopes in wet upland temperate areas like Britain and Scandinavia. Blanket bogs receive nutrients exclusively from rainfall. The peat can be up to 6 m deep depending on topography and in many areas began to form between c.7,000 and 3,000 years ago due to climatic deterioration encouraging waterlogging, and also due to human deforestation leading to soil acidification and the leaching of nutrients. Blanket peat can bury many human landscape features like early field systems and settlements.

bocage A Norman-French word originally relating to woodland and later used to describe a landscape of small irregular fields surrounded by hedgerows, often on massive banks (talus). The term was first applied to landscapes in Brittany and Normandy for areas where open fields were absent or small but it is also appropriate for other areas such as SW England. Extensive areas of bocage have been transformed since the 1960s by large-scale removal of hedgerows to facilitate mechanized agriculture.

bog bursts Bog bursts occur when upland blanket peat or valley mires become so saturated with water that they burst, covering neighbouring areas with liquid peat and contaminating streams. They usually occur after prolonged rain or severe localized thunderstorms but they may be exacerbated by peat cutting or bog drainage. A number of examples are recorded from N England, Scotland and Ireland, notably Solway Moss near Carlisle in 1771 which ruined hundreds of acres of land, destroying crops, livestock and houses (Evans & Warburton 2007, Withers & McEwen 1989).


Bolling | boreal forest

Bolling 14.6–14.1 kya – the first major warm period after the last glacial maximum.

boll weevil Insect pest which reached the USA from Mexico in 1894 affecting cotton crops in Texas then spreading to other US states. It damaged the US economy so much that government intervention was necessary, but the spread of the pest was not halted. By 1908 it was in Arkansas and had crossed the Mississippi, forcing farmers to diversify farm production.

Bonn Convention Produced an international treaty, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, which came into force in 1983 with the aim of protecting species which migrated across national boundaries.

boreal forest (taiga)

The world’s largest biome (18 million km2). Forms an almost continuous belt across Alaska, N Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. Covers 11% of the earth’s surface in sub-arctic and cold continental areas and as a mountain biome in areas like S Chile and the W Cordillera of the USA where giant redwoods (sequoias) in California are up to 100 m tall. Its boundaries are not clear as it extends well into the tundra in sheltered areas, as far as 72– N in Siberia. Climate is distinguished by severe, long winters and cool summers with mean temperatures rarely about 15– C and a short growing season. Precipitation is low with a summer maximum. Permafrost is widespread. There may be extensive wetland areas, e.g. the Canadian muskeg. Vegetation can vary greatly with local climate and soil conditions. Boreal forest only has two or three layers: the trees themselves, sometimes a limited shrub layer and the ground layer of mosses, lichens and flowering plants. A thick layer of acid leaf litter reduces ground cover. The range of tree species is limited: spruce, fir, pine and larch, with some broadleaved deciduous species like alder, birch and willow. Trees are shallow rooted above iron pan podsols and permafrost which are impenetrable to tree roots. Exploitation is focused on hunting for furs and timber extraction, which has led to extensive loss of forests in Europe, Canada and Russia; regeneration is slow. Boreal forests often have a long history of fire episodes: in Wisconsin every 100–140 years and in SW 67

¨ serup, Esther (1910–99) boreal forest | Bo

Nova Scotia every 250–350 years (Bryant et al. 1997, Gillet 2005, Simmons 1989). Boreal forests may seem like wilderness landscapes but they have a long history of human impact, beginning soon after deglaciation with the first hunter-gatherers. This has affected the structure and species composition of the forests. By c.AD800 the Sami had evolved a reindeer-herding economy. In northern Scandinavia, when there was deep snow on the ground during the winter, the Sami chopped down trees with lichenencrusted bark for winter fodder for their reindeer when they could not eat lichens on the ground. The stumps of these trees can still be seen in areas untouched by modern forestry (Berg et al. 2011). In Scandinavia, while agriculture was introduced to the coastal areas of N Sweden in the early centuries AD, over most of the interior it was not established until the C18–19. The most significant modern conflict is between commercial forestry and reindeer herding, and in some areas mining. The forests contain archaeological and ecological evidence of human occupation over long time periods. In Scandinavia Sami sites spanning 8,000 years with remains of hearths, cooking pits and hut foundations are becoming better ¨ stlund & Bergman 2006) (see treeline). understood (O

¨ serup, Esther (1910–99) Bo Danish agricultural economist whose work has had a major effect on theories of social and technological change. She produced an alternative, more positive, less pessimistic view to Malthus regarding the relationships between population and food supplies in The Conditions of Agricultural Growth (1965). Instead of population pressure leading to a shortage of resources and triggering a Malthusian crisis she saw population growth as being a stimulus to agricultural intensification and innovation. She suggested that agriculture would move through a series of stages, each involving more frequent cropping and less frequent fallowing than the preceding ones. Each new system would produce more food per unit area but would require more labour so that farmers would only move to a more intensive stage when they were forced to by population pressure. The sequence led from food gathering to forest fallow (two crops or so followed by 20–25 years’ fallow) through bush fallow (4–6 years of cropping, 8–10 of fallow) to short fallow (1–2 years of crops following by a single year of fallow), annual cropping with only temporary fallowing and eventually multi cropping with two or more crops each year and no fallow. Such changes were accompanied by developments in agricultural technology, 68

¨ serup, Esther (1910–99) | Braer Bo

from digging stick to hoe, scratch plough and heavy plough. Both sets of changes led to an increase in the amount of labour required for a given volume of output; yields rose but per capita productivity did not. The models have been applied to areas of the tropics in the recent past and to the evolution of agriculture in Europe from Neolithic times onwards ¨ serup 1965, 1970, 1981). (Bo

boulder berms Spreads or dumps of large boulders moved by water during extreme floods and dropped in particular places when the speed of the current was checked. Lichenometry can be used to indicate the date of the deposits (Johnson & Warburton 2002, Macklin & Rumsby 2007). BP

(Before Present)

Timescale used in archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research. The arbitrary start is 1 January 1950, chosen during the early days of radiocarbon dating in the mid-1950s. So a date of 950 years BP ¼ AD1000.

bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) In upland Britain common on hillsides and moorland. Favours well-drained soils. Uphill it is limited by increasing frost and thinning soils; downslope by poorer drainage. It is spread by underground rhizomes, which makes it a very successful colonizer, but in the past it was cut for stable litter, burnt for potash and trampled by cattle which killed off the rhizomes. Since WW2 it has expanded, covering large areas and shading out most other plants. Mechanical cutting or poison can remove it temporarily (Halliday 1997). The genus is probably the most widespread of any fern occurring on all continents except Antarctica. Bracken rhizomes were eaten by Maoris in New Zealand, and possibly in Mesolithic Europe, as a staple food.

Braer On 5 January 1993 the Liberian-owned tanker Braer, carrying 85,000 t of crude oil, went aground and subsequently broke up on the SE coast of Shetland. Less than 1% of the oil was washed ashore; most was swept out to sea and the oil was a lighter, more easily biodegradable type than most N Sea oil. Nevertheless there was considerable damage to fisheries, fish farms and marine ecosystems: at least 32,000 seabirds are thought to have died. The Donaldson Enquiry recommended identifying the most sensitive and 69

Braer | Brazil

valuable areas of the British coast as Maritime Environmental High Risk Areas from which international shipping should be excluded but the government has still to act (Ritchie & O’Sullivan 1994).

braided rivers Where a river divides into a number of intertwining channels, usually in mountain areas with high stream energy and sediment input, e.g. the meltwater streams in front of a glacier. May also result from soil erosion due to woodland clearance or washing into streams of mining waste.

Braudel, Fernand (1902–85) See Annales School.


8.5 million km2 with an estimated population of c.169 million in AD2000. Tropical rain forests cover c.55% of the area and savanna c.25%. Natural ecosystems were disturbed by human activity much later than those of Africa and Asia. Apart from Brazil the forests of Latin America were barely touched before c.1900. Most of the clearance was in Brazil, much of it for grazing rather than cultivation. In Brazil the devastation of the Atlantic coastal forests was early, extensive and severe due partly to the social system which developed with European colonization when the mestizo population was concentrated in government-sponsored villages often under the control of Jesuits or Franciscans, providing a labour force for large estates developed on royal land grants. This labour force was supplemented after c.1550 by African slaves. On these large estates there was extravagant use of the forest with a form of swidden agriculture. A massive influx of population into the interior of Brazil occurred in the early C18 due to the discovery of gold and diamonds. Extensive areas of forest were cleared for grazing to provide meat for miners. Graziers nibbled away at the W edge of the Atlantic forests and sugar plantations at the E edge. In the late C18 and early C19 the forests were considered to be of little value. Unlike temperate trees tropical ones did not grow from stumps and developed very slowly suggesting that replanting was not worthwhile. In the C19 the Brazilian economy revived and an expansion of sugar production led to a renewed attack on the forests. Then coffee became Brazil’s main export and was planted on heavily forested ridges because the coffee plants were sensitive to frost damage. Bushes were planted up and down slopes to allow cold air 70

Brazil | Brittany

to drain, but this caused massive soil erosion leading to abandonment and a move to new areas. The construction of a railway over the Serro Fo Mar in 1867 allowed a new wave of exploitation of the interior. The Amazon rain forests remained substantially intact until the 1960s due to problems of access apart from along the main rivers, but since 1970 economic and demographic growth has resulted in over 725,000 km2 of deforestation, much of it illegal, for commercial timber extraction, clearance by small farmers, deforestation for cattle ranching (by far the most important cause), road construction and the flooding of extensive areas as part of dam construction and power generation. Much land for cattle ranching has been cleared by burning and sometimes the fires have ˜o episode led to a serious got out of hand, as in 1995 when an El Nin drought. Logging of timber for export is more selective but the felling and extraction of the chosen species nevertheless causes great damage to the forest and reduces biodiversity substantially as well as increasing the risk of damage by fire. Illegal mining within the rain forest has also been responsible for water pollution. Much of the peasant cultivation, which accounts for about a third of the deforestation, is slash and burn and this rapidly depletes soil fertility. Government efforts to set aside extensive areas for conservation have had limited success though various NGOs have also been active. The rate of deforestation has been reduced in recent years but is still one of the highest in the world.

Bristlecone pine Three closely related species (Pinus aristate, P. longaeva and P. balfouriana) which grow near the treeline in the mts of the SW USA. Very slow growing, their rings indicate that some are 5,000 years old, making them among the oldest living organisms on the planet. Ring variations indicate fluctuations in summer warmth and provide a long-term climate record which can be related to changes in human cultures.

Brittany Peninsula and region in NW France, formed from ancient, resistant rocks with drowned valleys (rias) and a rocky, indented coast rising to moorland in the interior. Similar to Devon and Cornwall with which it shares a dense distribution of megalithic monuments from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Much of the countryside preserved, into the second half of the C20, a bocage landscape of small, irregular fields surrounded by high hedges on massive banks. A relatively poor and peripheral area in which traditional 71

Brittany | Bronze Age settlement, upland Britain

house styles and layouts survived into modern times. Extensive areas were under cultivation in the early C20 despite the climate’s suitability for livestock farming. From the 1960s Brittany witnessed an agricultural revolution with the virtual elimination of semi-subsistence farming and a major shift towards livestock production, especially intensive dairying and pig rearing. The only crops to have expanded was maize, grown for animal fodder, and vegetables in coastal areas. The French government encouraged remembrement – the consolidation of fragmented holdings – leading to the widespread removal of bocage to allow for mechanization, completely altering the landscape in many areas and leading to serious concerns over soil erosion (Clout 1979).

brochs Circular, thick-walled stone towers up to 15 m high, found only in Scotland, dating to the C1AD. The best preserved example is on the island of Mousa, Shetland. The thick walls often contained internal chambers and stairways. Timber floors divided the towers internally. Small, low entrances provided protection. Those in the W Highlands and islands tend to stand alone; those in the N Isles are often surrounded by complexes of circular stone huts as at Clickhimin and Jarlshof. They appeared suddenly and spread rapidly, whether as a defence against local feuding or Roman slave raiding is not clear (Armit 1977, 1998). Their use of substantial timbers for flooring and roofing may have made heavy demands on local woodland resources, causing deforestation.

Broecker, Wallace (1931–) US oceanographer and geochemist who has carried out major research on global ocean circulation as a giant conveyor belt driven by conditions in the N Atlantic, especially its chemical aspects. He developed the idea that changes between colder and warmer periods over the last 750,000 years have been associated with the flipping of the ocean–atmosphere system from one mode to another, with profound changes in the ocean circulation and transport of heat. He has suggested that the Younger Dryas event was caused by disturbances in global ocean circulation (Broecker 1995, Broecker et al. 1999).

Bronze Age settlement, upland Britain Throughout upland Britain, above levels of later improvement, late Neolithic and Bronze Age landscapes are well preserved with settlements, 72

Bronze Age settlement, upland Britain

field systems and ritual monuments. A wave of colonization appears to have occurred between c.2300BC and 1800BC, possibly due to population pressure, followed in c.1200BC by retreat and abandonment linked to soil deterioration, climatic downturn and the spread of peat. A drop in average annual temperatures of c.2– C and a marked increase in precipitation have been suggested (Parker Pearson 1993). This would have made cereal cultivation increasingly difficult in marginal upland areas (Champion 1999). It was once assumed that upland areas like Dartmoor were abandoned gradually in a piecemeal fashion as environmental conditions slowly deteriorated with falling temperatures and increasing rainfall, leading to the podsolization of soils, waterlogging and the growth of blanket peat, perhaps exacerbated by soil erosion (Burgess 1985, Turner 1991). There have been claims that this abandonment was sudden and widespread c.1200BC and also occurred in France, Spain and Italy (Burgess 1985, 1989). The occurrence in the Irish tree-ring chronology of a group of narrow rings lasting for about a decade at the crucial time suggests highly unfavourable conditions for tree growth and has been linked to an acid peak in a Greenland ice core, suggesting that a volcano eruption may have caused a severe short-term subsistence crisis in N and W Britain. An eruption of Hekla has been considered to fit the evidence. It has been proposed that a short, severe drop in temperatures due to the eruption produced a nuclear winter effect, with solid and gaseous material from the eruption blotting out solar radiation and causing freak weather conditions, crop failure and livestock mortality, leading to a flight from the uplands (Burgess 1989, Baillie 1989, Grattan 1998). It has been suggested that the peak of Bronze Age population in England around 1300BC may have been as high as at the time of the Domesday survey in AD1086 but had been halved by c.1000BC (Burgess 1985). Since the population of Britain has been cut drastically twice during historical times (the C6 Justinian plague and the Black Death) it is possible that similar disasters also occurred in prehistory. Another influence which could have operated at a more local scale was acid rain. There is some supporting evidence for this idea from the AD1783 Laki eruption in Iceland, acid deposition from which caused huge livestock mortality locally, killed fish in Scotland and damaged crops in England. If the area in which such deposition occurred was already acidic, the addition of more acid material could have pushed ecosystems over critical thresholds, damaging vegetation and causing animal mortality (Grattan & Gilbertson 1994). 73

Brown, Launcelot (‘Capability’) (1716–83) | Brundtland Commission

Brown, Launcelot (‘Capability’) (1716–83) English landscape gardener whose views altered the landscape of Britain and had an international influence on landscape architecture. He designed gardens as part of the wider landscape while at the same time turning the wider landscape into a garden. Brown’s designs for landscape parks were a reaction against the rigid geometry and formality of late C17 ˆ tre’s and early C18 gardens with their straight avenues, inspired by Le No gardens at Versailles. His parkland landscapes had three elements: trees, grass and water, the grass sweeping up right to the walls of the mansion without formal flower beds. The shapes of the margins of these were sinuous to make them look natural. Trees were planted individually, in small clumps or in larger peripheral belts. Where natural water features did not exist they were created by major earth-moving operations and largescale engineering. Brown undertook commissions throughout England and his style was widely imitated by other contemporary landscape gardeners (Barnatt & Williamson 2005, Brown 2011, Turner 1999).

brown earth A soil, usually fertile, developed beneath deciduous forest with a humic A horizon and a B horizon in which minerals are released by weathering.

brownfield sites Former industrial and urban sites in developed countries, sometimes with problems of pollution by toxic waste, which are targeted by planners as priority areas for new developments such as housing, retail, recreation and light industry.

Brueghel, Pieter the Elder (c.1525–69) Artist, born in Breda, the most famous Flemish painter of his day noted for early landscapes. Hunters in the Snow, painted in 1565 during the ‘first great winter of the Little Ice Age’ (Lamb 1982) is well known, as is his 1567 painting of the three kings visiting the infant Jesus.

Brundtland Commission Officially the World Commission on Environment and Development but known after its chairman, Gro Harlem Brundtland. Convened by the UN in 1983 to address concerns over the deterioration of the environment, and


Brundtland Commission | bubonic plague

the consequences of this for social and economic development. Its report, Our Common Future, was published in 1987 and emphasized the need for more sustainable development.

Bryson, William (Bill) (1951–) American author of humorous travel books. Many of his works, especially A Walk in The Woods (1998), on the Appalachian Trail, and Down Under (2000), have carried strong environmental messages emphasizing the scale of past and current human impact. Since 2007 he has been president of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

bubonic plague Disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted to humans mainly by fleas from infected rats. Bubonic plague is not thought to have affected Europe and the Near E until AD541–4 (the Justinian plague), possibly originating in the Himalayas. Earlier ‘plagues’ in the Roman Empire such as in AD65 and AD251 were probably smallpox. The first recorded outbreak of bubonic plague is thought to have been brought from India by ship. It returned in the C14 as the Black Death (1347–53), probably originating in China. From then bubonic plague recurred until the early C18. The Black Death may have been a result of Mongol expansion and the reopening of the silk roads, making it easier for pathogens to travel across Asia. It spread again from the mid-C19 to the late C20, affecting mainly Asia (12.6 million deaths in India 1898–1948) but also hitting San Francisco in 1900–4 and 1907–9 with some cases in Los Angeles in 1924–5. Symptoms included swellings (buboes) in the groin, armpit and neck. The disease can also become pneumonic when the bacilli get into the lungs, allowing the disease to spread more rapidly from person to person. In the past it could kill up to 60% of those infected. Epidemics of bubonic plague had profound environmental impacts due to the scale of mortality. The Justinian plague is thought to have killed c.25% of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin and may have contributed to the collapse of the Roman Empire by drastically altering the balance between population and resources, causing abandonment of settlement and cultivation and major changes in society. While most historians agree with the identification of the Black Death as bubonic plague some believe that anthrax may have been responsible, or a haemorrhagic fever like the modern Ebola virus. The pandemic of 1348 in Europe may have been pulmonary rather than bubonic plague. The 75

bubonic plague | Buffon, George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de (1707–88)

change from timber to stone construction in towns after the Great Fire of London and other C17 fires may have helped to hasten its disappearance. Its final outbreak in Britain was in London in 1665. C17 plague outbreaks cut the population of England from 5.2 million in 1656 to 4.8 million by the 1670s. In London in 1665, 95,000 out of 400,000 died of plague (Simmons 2001). It last appeared in W Europe in Marseilles in 1720 but continued in E Europe and the Balkans until the mid-C19. Its decline in Europe may have been due to better quarantining, the development of resistance by black rats and their replacement by brown rats (Rattus norvegicus). In N Africa a notable outbreak occurred in 1942 and was used by Albert Camus in his novel La Peste. The plague virus was discovered by a Swiss scientist, Alexander Yersin, in 1894 (Dobson 2007, Duncan 2001, Duncan et al. 2002, Flinn 1976, Slack 1989, Smout 1978).

buckwheat Fagopurum esculentum – despite its name, not a cereal or grass but is related to sorrels and docks. Energising and nutritious, it was domesticated in SE Asia c.6000BC and then spread into the Balkans and Japan by c.4000BC, and China c.2600BC. It was introduced by early European settlers to N America. It has a very short growing season and is grown at high altitude in Tibet, thriving on acid soils if well drained. It was also used as a fodder crop for livestock. In the early C20 the largest producer was Russia, then France. Today Russia and China are the main growers. In Brittany its flour was used to make creˆpes; in SE Asia it was made into noodles and porridge.

Buenos Aires A city whose waterfront on the Rio de la Plata is heavily polluted by chemicals and heavy metals and which also has a major air pollution problem. More recently attention has been given to recycling, landfills and air quality. It hosted the global climate talks in 1998 aimed at making progress on implementing the Kyoto Protocol. In a major breakthrough Argentina and Kazakhstan joined the industrial nations in agreeing to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the USA agreed to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

Buffon, George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de (1707–88) Naturalist and great synthesiser of knowledge of the natural and physical world. The first W scientist to be directly interested in human impacts on the natural environment, including deforestation, soil erosion and the 76

Buffon, George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de (1707–88) | Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland

domestication of plants and animals (Glacken 1967). Between 1749 and 1804 he wrote a 44-volume Histoire Naturelle Ge´ne´rale et Particulie`re, an account of changes to the environment made by humans. He saw nature as part of divine creation but also potentially hostile to human society which brought order to nature by controlling it through woodland clearance, drainage etc. (Williams 2003). In 1779, in E´poques de la Nature, he identified seven great epochs in the earth’s history. The first six follow the biblical story but the seventh starts with the development of agriculture leading to growing human control of the environment.

Burke, Edmund (1729–97) His book, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas on the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757) defined European attitudes to landscape in the age of Enlightenment. He suggested that there were two types of landscape, to which people responded differently. Beautiful landscapes, fertile, rolling and curvaceous, appealed to the human instinct to reproduce. Sublime landscapes, by contrast, were vast, awe-inspiring and scary (e.g. high mountains, deserts or the sea), appealing to the human sense for selfpreservation. This provided a rationale for the traditional distaste for mountain landscapes and the appreciation of fertile lowlands epitomised in Capability Brown’s parks. This dual way of categorising landscapes was disrupted in the later C18 by the identification of the Picturesque as an intermediate category between the beautiful and the sublime.

Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland

The name means ‘a stony place’: a rolling limestone plateau (c.360 km2) on S side of Galway Bay, Ireland, rich in limestone and arctic-alpine flora and settled early in prehistoric times due to its light, well-drained soils. Described by a Cromwellian soldier as having ‘not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one nor earth to bury him’. The landscape is strongly influenced by at least 6,000 years of human activity. The Elm Decline in the Burren is dated to c.5800BP. Finds of cereal pollen from before the Elm Decline indicate that this was not the earliest phase of woodland clearance for agriculture here. There was a large-scale reduction of woodland cover in late Neolithic times followed by soil erosion in the Bronze Age. Chamber tombs and early boundary systems survive on the bare limestone even though the original soils have long been eroded. A wealth of remains survives from later prehistory, including stone forts (cashels) and surrounding field systems. In post-medieval times sustained 77

Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland | Bustard, Great (Otis tarda)

out-migration has created a number of deserted hamlets and townships. A system of inverse transhumance was practised where cattle and sheep were put onto the high plateaus in winter due to their mild climate. Deserted cabins and cottages from the mid-C19 famine era occur with lazy beds and famine roads designed to provide work for starving labourers. This is one of the most important archaeological landscapes in Atlantic Europe. Agriculture has been modernized since the 1920s with mechanization and fertilizers, and a shift from hay to silage. The spread of scrub on land no longer used agriculturally has been a problem. The area was designated a national park in 1991 (Korff 1991).

bush fire See wildfires.

Bustard, Great (Otis tarda) Large (2 m wingspan), ground-nesting bird favouring grassland habitats with only c.35,000 left globally, mostly in S and E Europe. Its population fell as its habitat decreased. Once a common bird on the sheep pastures of Salisbury Plain, the last known British example was shot in 1832. Attempts to reintroduce it there began in 2004.


C cacao A tree cultivated for its beans which, when ground into a powder, can be drunk as chocolate or used to make confectionery. Probably originating in the Amazon basin from where it was diffused to central America and the Caribbean. In the C16 Spanish conquerors developed a taste for it. Milk chocolate, developed in Europe in the later C16, greatly increased consumption. Production spread from El Salvador and Venezuela to Brazil and then to W African British and French colonies (Clarence-Smith 2000).

cadastral surveys Surveys and maps specifically recording the ownership of land. They often provide details of land use as well. Napoleon established a comprehensive cadastral survey for France which was adopted elsewhere in Europe. Such surveys often provide major benchmarks from which subsequent changes in environment and landscape can be measured, e.g. the 1832 land register of Tuscany (Agnoletti 2006).

Cahokia On the Mississippi floodplain opposite St Louis, a diverse and fertile environment, the focus of the largest prehistoric population in the Americas N of Mexico. At the height of its power c.AD1050–1250 the site extended over 12 km2 and may have held a population of up to 30,000. Over 100 earth mounds of different sizes, shapes and functions survive. They are sited on the highest, driest ground grouped around open plazas. The highest is Monk’s Mound, the largest earthwork in prehistoric N 79

Cahokia | Cairngorms

America, rising in four terraces to 30 m and covering 7 ha. Most mounds had important public buildings or elite residences but some contained burials. Cahokia was a large, important site from c.AD900 but declined after AD1250 as other large towns became prominent. Moundville, Alabama, a major regional centre, has 20 large platform mounds and may have held a population of c.1,000 between c.AD900 and AD1500 (Fagan 1991).

cairnfields Areas with hundreds or thousands of small, round heaps of stones found throughout N and W Britain on moorlands and upland fringes. Often incorporate curving linear stone banks, circular foundations and larger burial cairns. Radiocarbon dating and pollen evidence have dated many to the Bronze Age. The cairns appear to have been created by land improvement for pasture or cultivation, not for burial. Similar landscapes occur widely in upland areas, ranging from Northumberland through Perthshire to the far N of Scotland (Leech 1983, Johnston 2000, Horne & MacLeod 2001, RCAHMS 1993). The small cairns, which have no internal structure or evidence of burials, seem to have been stones removed from the land for cultivation or improving pasture. Studies of pollen from soils buried under such cairns, and from nearby peat bogs, have shown that when the cairnfields were created the landscape around them was often still partially wooded. The making of the cairns was associated with, or followed by, widespread soil erosion, evidence for which is sometimes visible in soil sections downslope as a thick layer of slopewash. The original brown forest soils of the areas around the cairns should not have had many stones near the surface, suggesting that the cairnfields were a response to erosion already initiated by woodland clearance. The cairnfields often occur in clusters, separated by areas of empty hillside, suggesting either fixed settlements separated by uncleared zones or nomadic settlement where, after a few years, due to soil exhaustion and erosion, sites were abandoned and new ones chosen (Leech 1983).

Cairngorms Mountain area and national park in E Scottish Highlands between valleys of R Dee, Spey and Tay. Covering 4,000 km2, one of the least altered upland areas in Britain, preserving arctic-alpine plants and rare birds like the dotterel and snow bunting. Consists of high plateaus dissected by corries and glacial troughs, with several summits above 1,220 m forming the highest block of mountains in the UK, with an environment similar to 80

Cairngorms | California

arctic tundra fringed by extensive native pinewoods. Until the C18 the area was used for grazing cattle from summer shielings and hunting. The pinewoods were logged for timber commercially from the C18, with timber being floated down the Spey to the Moray Firth. In the C19 commercial sheep farming and deer stalking developed as major land uses. Queen Victoria’s purchase of the Balmoral estate increased the area’s popularity for visitors. The early C20 brought commercial conifer planting. The creation of a skiing industry based on the N slopes of Cairn Gorm from the 1960s led to the development of Aviemore as a year-round tourist centre. A chairlift to the summit plateau of Cairn Gorm has been replaced by a funicular in recent years. The return of ospreys to Loch Garten in 1959 led to increased efforts to conserve the native pinewoods. In recent years there has been growing concern over damage to the fragile ecology of the summit plateaus by skiers and walkers. In 2003 the Cairngorms were designated as Scotland’s second national park (Lambert 2001, McConnell & Conroy 1996, Smout 2000, Warren 1997a, Watson 1991).

Caledon, Great Wood of In the C18 and C19 it was widely believed in Scotland that extensive native pinewoods had survived until relatively recently only to be felled by rapacious landowners, Hanoverian troops and greedy ironmasters. In 1812 Chalmers introduced the concept of the ancient forest in his book Caledonia. From there two different traditions regarding Scottish forestry separated – one reality, one myth. The myth was a powerful story of destruction and decline, used for political and ideological purposes to the present day. The concept of the Caledonian forest must be approached with caution because it blames outsiders for the destruction of Scotland’s native forests while there is abundant evidence that the forest was mainly destroyed by local people. Although the historical value of this myth is dubious it emphasizes that originally Scotland was considerably more wooded than at present and that its decline was largely the work of human hands, calling for protection for the remnants of the old woodlands (Smout 2000).


The 3rd largest US state (409,701 km2) with a population of over 35 million and an extremely varied environment from the Cascades to the sea. It can be viewed as a paradise or an area filled with potential environmental disasters. Californian environmental history has been described as a conflict 81

California | Camargue

between alternative visions, an earlier one based on immediate returns from resource exploitation and a later one emphasizing sustainability, although Indians exploited fisheries sustainably for centuries before Europeans arrived (Merchant 1998). Recent environmental issues include air pollution, major wildfires and problems of maintaining water and energy supplies. Major earthquakes are a permanent threat. Early hunters gave way to more advanced hunter-gatherer societies with only a limited amount of agriculture. Spanish settlement occurred from 1769 in an area whose native population had been devastated by disease. Local Indians were drawn into fur trading and became dependent on Europeans, and more vulnerable as a result. Gold was discovered near Sacramento in 1848. Two years later 150,000 prospectors were causing widespread environmental damage. The high cost of labour led to the use of hydraulic mining techniques, not unlike European hushing, which removed hillsides causing debris flows and downstream flooding, damaging farms and agricultural land. Three times as much debris was removed as was excavated to create the Panama Canal. This was washed into California’s rivers. Between 1849 and 1874 nearly $1 billion in gold was mined in California. The use of mercury to trap the washed-out gold poisoned the land. Despite extensive logging no ecosystem has been transformed more than the rangelands, where grazing by cattle and, increasingly after the droughts of the 1860s, sheep altered the grasslands, replacing native species by less nutritious introductions and causing overgrazing (Duane 1999, Isenberg 2006, Merchant 1998, Rawls & Bean 2003). Oil started another ‘rush’. The first well was drilled in 1865 in California’s Central Valley E of San Francisco. In 1900 the state produced 4 million barrels, but output increased to 77 million by 1910. As the early oilfields ran out more major ones were discovered in the 1920s, including the Long Beach Field, which produced nearly 1 million barrels by 1980. California has long been known for its vulnerability to earthquakes, the first major one being recorded in 1769.


ˆ ne delta (930 km2) in S France with extensive grazing, lakes Area of the Rho and marshland as well as e´tangs or brackish lagoons. The core of it, the E´tang de Vaccare`s, was designated a regional park in 1927 because of its importance for bird life (also a RAMSAR site): it was made a national park in 2008. Along the coast salt has been produced for centuries by evaporating seawater. The industry thrived under control of medieval 82

Camargue | Canada

monasteries. Rice cultivation has become significant since WW2 and the ˆ ne area is also noted for rearing fighting bulls. The shifting of the Rho channels and the growth of the delta over time has left the port of Aigues Mortes silted up and stranded 5 km from the sea. The salt pans at Salin de Giraud, covering 11,000 ha, are the largest in Europe and produce 1 million tonnes of salt a year. A 20 km dike was built in the C19 to protect the area from the sea but periodic flooding still occurs. The Camargue attracts over 1 million tourists a year. 15,000 ha are under rice cultivation and 50% of the natural wetlands have disappeared within the last 50 years. Increasing use of fertilizers has caused algal blooms in some of the e´tangs.

camels Important in Africa and Asia for their adaptation to dry environments, allowing the occupation of arid areas in N Africa and central Asia. The dromedary or Arabian camel (Camells dromedaries) has one hump; the Bactrian camel (C. bactrianus) has two. The former was domesticated pre3000BC in Arabia or N Africa, the latter before 3000BC in SW Asia, from where it spread to Iraq, India, central Asia and China. Camels eat vegetation not touched by other domesticated animals and can go without water for longer than horses or mules. They can travel up to 65 km a day with loads of up to 600 kg (Bulliet 1975, Gauthier-Pilters & Dagg 1981). They became important draught animals with the Moslem conquest of Egypt from the C7AD, allowing long-distance trade across deserts like the Sahara. Camels were first introduced to Australia from the Canary Islands in 1840 and were used as draught and riding animals in the Outback. Their use died out with the advent of motor vehicles but up to 200,000 are still at large in wild herds, which can cause problems when they congregate at water holes.


9.9 million km2 with pre-1492 population of only c.0.5 million (today 31 mi). Only 5% of the area is arable. The St Laurence lowlands have some rich sedimentary plains formerly covered in mixed forest. To the N the Canadian Shield, much of it covered in boreal forest, stretches into the Arctic with extensive mineral resources and over 2 million lakes. Canada was exploited as a source of natural resources – fish, furs, timber, periodic gold rushes and more recently the tar sands of Alberta. As a result conservation of stocks – such as Atlantic cod and Pacific salmon – have long been a concern. Forest is a major resource – c.45% of the country is forested today, an increase from 1900 with more effort now on sustainable forestry 83

Canada | canals

(Duke 2006, Dunlap 1999, Mulvihill 2001). Canada was discovered by John Cabot in 1497 and claimed for France by Jacques Cartier in 1534. The French settled mostly beyond the Appalachians in the valley of the St Lawrence while the British were more attracted to the coastal fringe, creating two distinctive settlement landscapes. Much of the interior was slow to be settled, the prairies only with the spread of the railways in the 1880s.

canals A straightened and deepened river or a completely artificial waterway for irrigation water and especially transport. The Persian emperor Darius I began a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, close to the line of the later Suez Canal, in the C6AD. The Chinese Grand Canal, C7AD carried rice from the lower Yangtze to the army and centres of political power in the N, and is still in use. Several attempts were made to dig a canal across the isthmus of Corinth before the present one was constructed in the late C19. The distinction between natural rivers and artificial waterways is not necessarily clear-cut as river navigation could be improved by deepening and the installation of locks: the first proper lock in Europe was built in the Netherlands in AD1373. The Canal du Midi between the Mediterranean and Atlantic through SW France was opened in 1681. In Britain development of canals in the C18 and C19 went hand in hand with industrialization, allowing the cheap transport of bulky, low-value items like coal, cotton, stone and grain. The Sankey Canal, one of the earliest in NW England, liberated the city of Liverpool from the constraints of expensive coal previously transported overland. In the late C18–19 canals involved altering the environment by engineering works on a hitherto unseen scale with aqueducts, cuttings, tunnels, flights of locks and boat lifts. Canals encouraged the growth of existing towns and the creation of new ones like Ellesmere Port and Stourport (Porteous 1977). In mainland Europe with its larger rivers there was a longer tradition of internal navigation. The cities of the C17 Netherlands were supplied with peat for fuel by canal barges. In the C19 major networks of canals were built through N France, Belgium, the Netherlands and N Germany. Paris was supplied by fuel from the Nord region by the Canal St Martin. Improvements after 1950 linked the Rhine to the ˆ ne to the Rhine and the port of Dunkirk to the heart of the Danube, the Rho Nord coalfield. In Britain today canals are used mainly for leisure but can still generate a substantial income. In Europe they are still major freight arteries as well as being used for leisure. In the C19 the development of empires and 84

canals | Caribbean

worldwide shipping routes led to the cutting of the Suez and Panama Canals (Wolf 1998) (see Panama Canal, Suez Canal).

Canary Islands See Atlantic islands.

Cape Verde Islands See Atlantic islands.

Caral (or Norte Chico) Earliest known civilization in the Americas on coastal plain of N-central Peru between c.5.0 kya and 1.8 kya, predating the inland Chavin culture. A complex of pyramids, temples, amphitheatres and houses was occupied for c.1,000 years. Their monumental architecture included large platform mounds and sunken circular plazas. The civilization focused on four valleys covering 1,800 km2 in an arid area where rivers carried Andean snowmelt allowing the development of sophisticated irrigation systems. Their period of greatest expansion 2500–2000BC saw a shift of settlement inland though still utilizing resources from the coast. Squash, beans and other crops were grown with cotton for fishing nets. The central site of Caral covered 60 ha and traded with the coast and the Amazon (Haas et al. 2004, Pringle 2001, Solis et al. 2001).

carbon dioxide (CO2) An important greenhouse gas. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been measured at Mauna Loa in Hawaii since 1958: ignoring seasonal variations there has been a steady upward trend from 315 ppm to 387 ppm in 2009. CO2 from ice cores shows that the background pre-industrial level of c.280 ppm started to rise c.1800 and has increased to 388 ppm by 2010.

carcinogenic Cancer-causing: e.g. asbestos, some dioxins, tobacco smoke.


Hundreds of islands spread over 2.7 m km2 of sea from Cuba to Trinidad in an arc more than 4,000 km long with a great variety of geology, topography, climate and vegetation. Most of the population is descended 85


from immigrants with natives having been almost wiped out by Europeans and their diseases (Watts 1995). Many of the islands are mountainous and volcanic; the area is subject to earthquakes. The eruption of Montserrat in 1977 forced the evacuation of most of the island’s 11,000 population. In 1902 Mount Pelee on Martinique killed c.30,000 inhabitants of the town of St Pierre. The region is also subject to hurricanes. The islands were settled from the mainland c.5000BC and the population in 1492 is estimated to have been c.2–4 million, based partly on the cultivation of cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, peanuts, beans and maize. Massive depopulation resulted from the introduction of European diseases after 1492 and there was rapid reversion from arable land to forest, later cleared for sugar cane. Early Spanish settlement was on quite a small scale: there were still under 10,000 colonists in the whole region by the end of the C16 (Watts 1995). Introduced pigs and cattle did well with no natural predators and went wild, causing soil compaction and erosion. In the C17 plantation agriculture spread, especially on British-controlled islands. Tobacco was the first popular plantation crop but it rapidly exhausted soils, a more critical problem on relatively small islands, where the area of cultivable land was limited than on the American mainland. Sugar cane, less exhausting and equally profitable, was introduced by the British to Barbados and the French to St Kitts in the 1640s. Forests were cleared for fuel for sugar boiling as well as for the crops. The legacy of the sugar cane industry is a high population density but a polarized pattern of land ownership, plus soil erosion. Since the 1960s tourism has been a major revenue earner (Lentz 2000). Deforestation occurred to clear land for crops and pasture but other motives were involved in the British Caribbean. In Britain there was a longestablished association between woodland clearance and improvement. In the C18 landscape tastes favoured open parkland landscapes with trees in scattered clumps and open vistas. It was also believed that tropical forests produced harmful vapours which caused illnesses. Removing the forests would, it was thought, cause the sun to disperse harmful miasmas (Grove 1995). Despite the Spanish and Portuguese experience on the other side of the Atlantic, British planters in the Caribbean failed to realize that the lush tropical landscapes of the islands were extremely vulnerable to environmental damage. Most of the nutrients were locked up in the vegetation rather than the soils. Once deforestation occurred soils rapidly lost their fertility. 86

Caribbean | carrying capacity

The sugar industry was established on Barbados in the late 1640s by immigrant Portuguese Jews from Brazil who introduced the skills for producing high-quality sugar, causing a revolution in agriculture and a transformation of the landscape. The scale of ecological change on Barbados was unprecedented: within 20 years the island was so short of timber that it was being imported from New England. Trees were killed by ring-barking then burning them at the end of the dry season (Watts 1987). Within a few years Barbados became a gem among Britain’s overseas possessions in the same way that Madeira had been for Portugal (McFarlane 1992). Sugar cane grew well in the Caribbean but it needed light, water and careful weeding. On Barbados sugar cane had virtually replaced forest by 1665, covering 80% of the island, The pattern was repeated on St Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat in the later C17 and on Antigua, Guadeloupe and Martinique during the early C18 (Watts 1995). The Barbados experience was repeated in the E Caribbean on islands including Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago, which were acquired by Britain at the end of the Seven Years War. Official policy favoured the rapid development of sugar production. With the experience of Barbados in mind scientific opinion was moving towards a more conservation-oriented approach. The establishment of forest reserves on Tobago and St Vincent in 1764 was influenced by concerns that deforestation might lead to a drier climate and shortage of moisture for crops. Attitudes were influenced by the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce which, from 1758, offered prizes for tree planting with a particular focus on the West Indies. By 1790 signs of sheet erosion and gullying were plain on St Vincent and were causing serious concern. In the 1790s there were worries about the sugar crop during a severe ˜ o event in the Pacific. drought that was a distant spin off from an El Nin These concerns led to the passing of the King’s Hill Forest Act, which aimed to encourage re-afforestation. This has been seen as the first pioneer legislation to encourage re-afforestation, though the thinking behind it also drew inspiration from the experience of the British occupation of St Helena and Jamaica from the late C17, representing a more sustainable approach to land management (Briden Baugh 1977, Grove 1997, McCook 2002, Pulsipher 1985, Sheridan 1970, Watts 1987).

carrying capacity The maximum number of organisms (plants, animals, humans) which can be supported in an area without ecosystem damage and loss of 87

carrying capacity | cartography and surveying

biodiversity. The term has also been applied to the number of visitors a heritage or tourist site can accommodate without overcrowding and damage.

Carson, Rachael (1907–64) American marine biologist and ecologist. The Sea Around Us (1952) and The Edge of the Sea (1955) established her reputation as a writer on the environment. Silent Spring (1962), on the danger of chemical pesticides like DDT to plants, animals and humans, calling for a change in the ways humans viewed the natural world, became a seminal text in the environmental movement. The book was highly controversial and the pesticide industry tried to have it suppressed. It was of major importance in developing environmental consciousness throughout the world, showing that the destruction of nature did not equal progress.

cartography and surveying The production of maps, charts and atlases. Maps, as two-dimensional depictions of three-dimensional landscapes, are valuable sources of data about environmental history. As selective representations of reality they also demonstrate attitudes towards past environments. The earliest known maps date from Babylonian times, inscribed on clay tablets. Societies like N American Indians, Inuit and Polynesians demonstrated a keen sense of spatial awareness, creating maps respectively on birch bark, wood and with shells joined by palm fronds. The Romans engraved detailed maps on bronze sheets which were melted down by barbarian invaders. In medieval times in NW Europe maps for travellers and of estates were drawn. The Renaissance in Europe saw the development of the scale map based on properly measured surveys. In England the Tudor period saw the start of detailed county mapping by Christopher Saxton, large-scale estate plans encouraged by the land ownership changes accompanying the Dissolution of the Monasteries and military surveys to assist campaigns in Ireland (Buisseret 1996, Tyacke & Huddy 1980). Many C17 English county maps plagiarised existing surveys rather than undertaking new ones. Other countries active in producing maps were France (see Cassini survey), Germany and Italy. In England in the C18 more detailed county surveys at the scale of one inch to one mile became standard, recording the landscape in greater detail than ever before, though problems of showing relief remained. The Military Survey of Scotland, 1747–55, undertaken in the aftermath of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, set a standard for medium-scale 88

cartography and surveying | Caspian Sea

mapping which led to the foundation of the Ordnance Survey as the official British map-making agency and which continues with its modern 1:50,000 Landranger map. Agricultural improvement in C18–19 Britain encouraged more accurate large-scale estate maps as well as those associated with the commutation of tithes and parliamentary enclosure (Gibson 2007, Gregory 2005), as did the settlement of N America and the Caribbean (Buisseret 1996). During the C19 the Ordnance Survey developed its coverage at scales of 1:63,360, 1:10,640, 1:2,500 and 1:1,250. Environmental history research has used old maps to chart change in coastlines and the courses of rivers. Maps have also been used to calculate the extent of woodland, arable and other land uses (Smout 2003). The traditional approach to interpreting maps as historical sources has considered them in terms of their accuracy in relation to surveying technology, accepting that maps were as accurate depictions as their surveyors were able to achieve with the means available to them. In recent years new perspectives based on the work of Brian Harley (1968, 2001) have taken a post-modern approach emphasizing that maps are documents which tell us as much about the minds of their cartographers, their perceptions and the social, economic, religious and political milieus in which they worked as the landscapes they portrayed (Smith & Kain 1999).

cas chrom Gaelic name for a foot plough. Formerly used in the W Highlands and Islands of Scotland for the hand cultivation of land in raised plots or lazy beds. Produced higher yields of crops like oats and potatoes than plough cultivation, though much more labour intensive.

Caspian Sea

The largest lake in the world with no outflow to the ocean at 371,000 km2. The lake becomes progressively deeper from N to S, reaching over 1,000 m. The R Volga provides the largest inflow (82% of total). Sturgeon fisheries and caviar production have been hit by recent overfishing. The discovery of major oil and gas deposits with the first offshore wells near Baku from the 1870s marked the start of serious industrial impacts on the environment of the sea and its shorelines. Currently there are concerns over potential damage from oil spills to fragile lake ecosystems. From 2005 a major pipeline has operated from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. After a period of lower levels in the 1930s a rise in the level of the sea of c.2.25 m since 1978 has caused damage to buildings, roads and 89

Caspian Sea | catastrophism

agricultural land. In Kazakhstan c.20,000 km2 have been lost in this way: reasons for these fluctuations are not clear. In 2003 a framework treaty for protecting the sea’s environment was signed by four of the surrounding nations.

cassava Also known as manioc, tapioca; a root crop native to S America. When introduced to Africa it became a major food source, drought resistant and easy to grow.

Cassini survey Cartographic survey of France carried out by Ce´sar-Franc¸ois Cassini de Thury from a famous family of map makers. Preliminary work was carried out in 1740. Louis XV commissioned the map at a scale of 1:86,400 in 182 sheets but the work took 30 years to complete (Konvitz 1987). This was the first proper survey of many of the more remote areas of France, the inhabitants of which sometimes took the surveyors for magicians (Robb 2007).

¨ yu ¨k C ¸ atal Ho Anatolia, Turkey. One of the earliest large farming settlements in the Near E. It is debatable whether it was actually a ‘town’, more a place where farmers lived rather than providing specialist skills and trades to a surrounding farming population. Covering 13 ha it was occupied c.9.3– 8.2 kya – at its largest it may have had c.5,000 inhabitants. It was a centre for locally mined obsidian with much of the community involved in making obsidian tools. Its decline coincides with the 8.2 kya cold snap. It had no streets – people entered the houses by ladders from the roofs – but there is evidence of religious beliefs in clay figurines and shrines with bulls’ heads (Balter 2001, Hodder 1996, Mellaart 1967, Wick et al. 2003).

catastrophism Attributing events in the human past to environmental catastrophes has a long history going back at least to the biblical flood, but this approach has not always been seen as academically respectable by geologists or environmental historians. One problem is that in much palaeoenvironmental dating is not precise enough for abrupt changes caused by 90

catastrophism | cattle plague/murrain

environmental catastrophes to show up. Accordingly much environmental history and prehistory has been more uniformitarian in its approach. Yet recent history shows that catastrophies, whether earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, droughts or floods, do happen and are likely to have been equally devastating in the past. Some catastrophic effects, such as major meteor strikes, are outside the realms of recorded human experience (see environmental determinism) (Baillie 1995, 1999).

catchment The drainage basin of a river system, divided from neighbouring catchments by watersheds.

Catlin, George (1796–1872) American artist, traveller and writer best known for detailed paintings of N American Indians and their environment which opened up their lifestyles to the outside world on the eve of massive demographic and cultural change. Between 1830 and 1836 he visited around 50 tribes. His work, through lecture tours in the E USA and Europe, raised widespread interest in and awareness of the American environment and its native inhabitants. He was also an early advocate of the concept of national parks.

Catskill Mountains, New York State In the early C19 the area became an American Lake District, an idealised American primeval landscape, the focus for the work of the Hudson Valley School of landscape art. The rounded, wooded mountains, deep gorges and waterfalls were romanticised as the American wilderness. As a result of over a century of protection this is one of the least fragmented forest areas in the Appalachians. There was pressure from resort and second home development though, as well as for reservoir construction to supply New York, especially in what was known as the Borscht Belt, frequented by Jewish New Yorkers with origins from E Europe, particularly between the 1940s and 1960s. The area declined as a vacation destination after WW2 (Brown 2002, Stradling 2008). (See Hudson River.)

cattle plague/murrain See diseases, animals.


causewayed enclosures/camps | censuses

causewayed enclosures/camps Prehistoric enclosures in Britain flourishing in Neolithic times, c.4300– 3300BC. Roughly circular, often on hilltops, consisting of sets of concentric banks and ditches interrupted by numerous gaps (causeways) so probably not defensive in function. They required considerable labour to construct: the ditches at Windmill Hill near Avebury, originally over 3 m deep, would have needed 100 men digging for six months. These sites formed foci for Neolithic society, probably with a secular as well as religious role.

caves As shelters for early predatory animals and humans caves can preserve rich finds of bones and artefacts as well as paintings. Animal bones provide good faunal assemblages highlighting past environmental conditions. Cave floor sediments can also show past temperature changes: layers of angular debris may indicate periods of freeze–thaw activity. Layers in stalagmites and flowstone can indicate temperature variations. Stalagmites and stalactites (together known as speleothems) have growth rings which can be dated by radiocarbon techniques giving indications of the temperature and precipitation conditions when it was laid down. The Soreq cave in Israel preserves a record of E Mediterranean rainfall over 25,000 years. Between 25000 and 17000BP conditions were dry and cool, followed by some sharp climatic fluctuations and then modern climatic patterns starting c.6000BP.

censuses Information gathered about members of a particular population at scales ranging from local to national. They allow the study of population change and geographical variation as a major variable influencing environmental change. Early surveys were often for taxation, military or religious purposes. Modern ones are part of the apparatus of state planning and control. A census was carried out in China over 4,000 years ago and the word derives from lists of those liable for military service in the Roman Republic. The Domesday Book (1086) has been considered a kind of census by some and contains much detail on contemporary resources and environment in England. Some census-type records listed only male heads of household (British C17 heath taxes) but some contained data on occupations and social status. Official censuses were first carried out in Scandinavia in the early C18 (Denmark, Iceland, Norway) and mid-C18 (Finland, Sweden). The 92

censuses | Chaco Canyon

first official British census was taken in 1801 and others have followed every ten years apart from 1941. In many African, Asian and S American countries the first official censuses only date from the late C19 or C20.

Central England Temperature Series The thermometer was invented in the early C17 but few surviving sets of measurements of air temperatures are as old as this. The longest continuous run of instrumental records of temperature is the Central England Temperature Series reconstructed by Professor Gordon Manley (1953, 1974) and beginning in 1659. His earliest monthly, seasonal and annual average temperatures were based on short runs of data from different locations with adjustment for instrumental variation. The earliest C17 values may only be reliable within a range of 1– C and those from the first half of the C18 to within 0.2– C. Nevertheless the temperature series extends back beyond the coolest phase of the Little Ice Age at the end of the C17 and the sharp rise in mean annual temperatures after 1700 is the one of the notable features of the graph. Manley’s series is being extended year by year with modern data. It shows the low point of temperatures at the nadir of the Little Ice Age in the 1690s, the marked recovery in the early C18 and the ‘hockey stick’ pattern of temperature increase since the 1970s, generally attributed to human-induced global warming (Manley 1953, 1974).

CFCs (Chloroflurocarbons) Chloroflurocarbons first invented in the early 1930s and used in refrigerants, solvents and aerosols. In 1985 J. Farman identified a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica and CFCs which had been carried into the upper atmosphere were pinpointed as the cause. Because of the potential damage to humans from enhanced ultraviolet B radiation rapid action on CFCs was taken with the Montreal Protocol (1987) which sharply cut their production. Most developed countries had virtually eliminated their use by the mid-1990s: recovery of ozone levels is proceeding more slowly.

Chaco Canyon NW New Mexico, USA: location of a number of Anasazi sites which flourished c.AD600–1150. Its people had a complex, regionally integrated society, constructing the tallest buildings in pre-Columbian America. Today the area is barren, treeless and almost devoid of population. In the C1BC semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers began to cultivate squash and maize in 93

Chaco Canyon | Chad, Lake

the canyon. Around AD490 an increase in rainfall and improved strains of corn led to the first sedentary villages. From c.AD700 the inhabitants developed techniques of massive stone construction with structures of up to five or six storeys, their roofs supported by huge logs. By AD1050 five great pueblos dominated Chaco Canyon and the area developed as the key Anasazi site, possibly because of access to water for irrigating crops on the canyon floor and local timber. There was dramatic population growth from c.AD900, expanding to include over 65–130 km2 of the San Juan basin and surrounding uplands. Pueblo Bonito, one of the great houses in the canyon, has c.600 rooms. It is not clear if these were individual houses or religious in function. Outlying settlements were built in similar style, linked to Chaco Canyon by a network of roads over 650 km long and up to 12 m wide: it is not clear whether they were built for traders or pilgrims. Pottery was imported, possibly due to a lack of fuel for kilns. Corn was also imported from 50 miles or more away. Chaco Canyon seems to have housed an elite fed by a peasantry. The last buildings at Chaco Canyon date from c.AD1100– 1120 (Diamond 2005, Fagan 1991). From c.1130 there was a 50-year long drought, causing a collapse of population and a move away to more favourable areas. By AD1200 the people had gone, surviving drought because of an ideology emphasizing movement and flexibility (Betancourt et al. 1986, Betancourt & Van Devender 1981, Fagan 1991, Lister & Lister 1981).

Chad, Lake On the SE margins of the Sahara Desert between Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Maximum area 7,500 km2, the fourth largest lake in Africa. Its waters support c.8.5 million farmers, fishermen and herdsmen. It once had an area similar to L Erie; in the Pleistocene it covered 2 million km2, but its average depth today is only 1.5 m and its maximum depth 10–11 m. Its shallowness has caused its area to vary greatly over recent centuries. During the Holocene it was at its largest c.4000BC at c.400,000 km2. In the last 2,000 years it has dried up six times, most recently in 1973–4 and 1984–5, with associated famine conditions. Overgrazing and demand for irrigation water have encouraged it to shrink in the last 50 years. Average rainfall in the area has fallen since the early C20 and by 1993 the area had fallen to 2,500 km2, one-tenth that of 1960. Catches of fish have declined in step. The lake varies considerably in size between wet and dry seasons. A scheme to pump water from Lake Chad for irrigation has hastened shrinkage. It remains a vital resource in an arid region (Sarchim & Birkett 2000). 94

chalk downlands | charcoal iron smelting

chalk downlands A habitat in SE England featuring plants unable to tolerate acid soils (calcicoles) or shade, created largely by intensive sheep grazing from medieval times onwards, and especially rich in orchids. Extensive areas of this habitat were ploughed up after WWII, destroying prehistoric (‘Celtic’) field systems.

chambered tombs Neolithic ritual/religious monuments c.4100–3000BC with distinctive regional variations. Found widely throughout Britain and in Europe from S Spain to S Sweden and in parts of the Mediterranean. Key features were a stone passage leading to a central chamber (passage grave) or with side galleries (gallery graves) which could be closed and re-used as in long barrows. Entrance was from a ritual forecourt area at one end of the mound. Bones were normally found in the chambers in a disaggregated state. Where the mound of earth or stones has been removed by erosion the burial chamber may survive as a cromlech or dolmen. New Grange (Co. Meath), Maes Howe (Orkney) and W Kennet near Avebury are good examples. Location was often apparently in relation to a territory, on the uphill fringe of an area of better-quality land, often visible on the skyline, presumably for the ancestors to watch over their descendants (Renfrew 1973).

charcoal burning Charcoal, widely used for smelting iron, was produced by burning wood in a limited supply of oxygen. Circular piles of timber were covered with turf to keep out the air and kindling inserted from the top. The wood burned for several days and the charcoal was then removed. In the S Lake District the circular platforms or pitsteads on which coppice wood was burnt to produce charcoal occur every 100 m or so in some woodlands. Foundations of charcoal burners’ huts can also be traced. Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons (1930) gives a good picture of some of the last sites in use in this area. Plants of nitrogen-rich soils like nettles (Urtica dioica) still show where the huts of the burners stood and where their packhorses were tethered (Barker 1998, Bowden 2000).

charcoal iron smelting Formerly widely practised in Europe, using mainly limonite or bog ore. Before the C17 bloomery sites in Britain were small, producing only a few 95

charcoal iron smelting | Chernobyl

tons of iron a year, and are identified by piles of iron slag. By the C17 larger charcoal blast furnaces were developed which could produce several hundred tons of iron a year on permanent sites with clusters of ancillary buildings. Good examples survive at Duddon Bridge in the Lake District and Bonawe near Oban (Scotland), established in 1752 with 450 ha of coppice providing the fuel. The myth that charcoal iron smelting deforested England and then Scotland has long been exploded but still surfaces in popular literature. In fact as the industry reached the limits of its fuel supply in early areas of production it was forced to look further afield for new sources. In the C18 when Cumbrian ironmasters were in this position they established charcoal blast furnaces in the W Highlands of Scotland, shipped Cumbrian ore there to be smelted using local charcoal, then brought the smelted iron back to NW England (Lindsay 1977). Pig iron smelted with coal only became cheaper than iron smelted with charcoal after c.1770 and charcoal continued to be used to make iron into the C19.

charters, Anglo-Saxon Documents recording the granting of land which are available for S and Midland England in some numbers from the C10. Analysis of the landscape features mentioned in their boundary descriptions provide an impression of a well-occupied landscape with a strong human imprint such as evidence of settlements, roads and trackways (Hooke 1981, 1985).

chase A hunting preserve similar to a royal hunting forest but held by a nobleman rather than a monarch.

Chateaubriand, Franc¸ois-Rene´ Vicomte de (1768–1848) Early exponent of romanticism, especially in relation to the American landscape, he visited the USA in 1791, setting three of his later novels there. He was the first European author to make Indians the subject of their romances (Switzer 1969).

Chernobyl Nuclear power station c.25 km from city of same name in the Ukraine. Scene of the most serious accident in the history of nuclear power. On 26 April 1986 a combination of flawed reactor design, inadequately trained 96

Chernobyl | chestnut forests

staff and lack of a safety culture resulted in an explosion in one of the reactors and a fire which released at least 5% of the radioactive core of the reactor into the atmosphere. The release of radioactivity was 30–40 times that of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It took nine days for the reactor fire to be brought under control. Half the radioactivity was deposited within a 30 km radius. Around 30 people died of radiation burns within four months: longer-term mortality is harder to gauge. An increase in the incidence of childhood thyroid cancer in Belorus and the Ukraine has been linked to the accident. Extensive areas in and around Chernobyl were contaminated and c.120,000 people were evacuated. Some 4,500 km2 of land was too severely contaminated to be used again within the foreseeable future. Freed from human interference and pressures many habitats within this area are thriving. Many effects of the radioactive fallout may not become apparent for generations. Winds carried the radioactive cloud over extensive areas of NW Europe including upland areas of Britain where soils and grazings were contaminated, the uptake of radioactive material being especially great on poor soils (Park 1989). (See Three Mile Island.)

chernozem Dark coloured (‘black earth’) soil found under temperate grasslands with a thick A Horizon rich in organic matter and bases, as in S Russia and the Ukraine.

cherry blossom, Kyoto The Japanese tradition of hanami or celebrating the flowering of the cherry blossom each year, especially at the old capital of Kyoto, was recorded from the C8AD onwards, initially by the court then spreading more widely through society. The flowering only lasts for a week or two and is carefully forecast today. Originally the flowering date was used to predict the quality of the harvest. The date of flowering is especially influenced by temperatures in February and March. Phenological studies have shown that relatively warm periods occurred in the C13 and cooler ones in 1330– 50, 1520–50, 1670–1700 and 1825–30 (Aono & Kazui 2007). Similar approaches have been used for data from China (Zenghong et al. 2008).

chestnut forests Had an important role in W Mediterranean areas in providing chestnut flour when wheat was scarce. They are found in a range of environments from 97

chestnut forests | Chile

mountain to coastal, showing that their distribution was due to human rather than environmental factors. The use of chestnuts in this way went out of use in the C19 and early C20 (Agnoletti 2006b, Delano-Smith 1979).

chiefdoms Operate on a principle of ranking different lineages or groups claiming descent from a common ancestor by prestige with a senior lineage governed by a chief. Surpluses paid to the chief might be used to feed retainers or to redistribute among subjects. Chiefdoms had centres of power, often with religious foci, the residence of the chief and centres of specialist craft production.

Childe, Professor Vere Gordon (1892–1957) Professor of archaeology, University of Edinburgh, from 1927. Developed the idea of the Neolithic ‘revolution’ in Man Makes Himself (1936) and What Happened in History (1942); he argued that agriculture developed in the Near E due to abrupt climatic changes after the end of the last ice age which caused progressive desiccation and forced humans animals and plants to river banks and oases leading to first attempts at domestication, rapid population growth and sedentary lifestyles. His simplistic view of climatic change, with a shift from cool and wet conditions at the end of the last glacial maximum to a hotter, drier Holocene, encouraged sweeping ‘catastrophic’ explanations of the origins of agriculture.

Chile 4,350 km long and on average 200 km wide, Chile has a varied environment ranging from the Atacama Desert in the N, on of the driest areas on the planet, through the Mediterranean climate of the central valley, to some of the wettest areas on earth in the far S. Some 80% of the country is mountainous, with a rugged coast, and there are extensive glaciers in the S which reached their Holocene maximum during the Little Ice Age (Koch & Kilian 2005). Chile is not the best favoured country in S America – it has relatively scarce mineral resources, deforestation has caused widespread soil erosion and large areas of sheep pasture in the S suffer from overgrazing. On the positive side rich coastal fisheries have long been exploited and oil and gas is being extracted from the Straits of Magellan in the far S. Before the coming of the Spaniards the Incas dominated in the N and the Mapuche in central and S areas. The Mapuche 98

Chile | China

were enslaved but the nomadic Araucanian in the S, beyond the Bio Bio River, were only defeated in the 1880s. Copper mining has been important since the C16, peaking in the mid-C19 and again in the late C20, mostly in the N.

China China’s population at the start of the Ming dynasty c.AD1400 was 65–80 million and 24.7 million ha were under cultivation. In 1680 the population had risen to 120 million, in 1760 to 214 million, in 1850 430 million, and in 2003 to 1.3 billion. Population grew fourfold between 1400 and 1770 and five-and-a-half fold from 1400 to the end of the C19 with dramatic effects on the environment, including massive forest clearance (McNeill 1998, Songster 2003). For the last 2,000 years the population of China has been onequarter to one-third of the total population of the planet. Before the Industrial Revolution, China accounted for one-third of the world’s economic activity, the richest and most powerful state in the world. The strength of China periodically pushed waves of nomads W into Europe. Mongol trade routes from China to Europe spread disease as well as luxuries and new technology. China absorbed half the silver mined in the New World in the late C16 and early C17. The invention of printing in the C9 and the Chinese practice of using the experience of the past to inform present decision-making created huge bureaucratic archives which are rich in data relating to past environments, including events like floods, typhoons, droughts and famines. Until the end of the Han Empire c.AD220 the focus of the Chinese state was in the N. Barbarian attacks pushed it further S but it returned to the N under the Sui dynasty from AD589. The Grand Canal, 1,200 km long, was built in the late C6 to move food from the Yangtze valley to the capital, Peking encouraging the development of wet rice cultivation in the S and an influx of population to the Yangtze delta, Szechwan and Kwangtung. Rebellion, foreign invasion and political stability led to a migration of population to the Yangtze valley c.AD880–1150 with the development of new rice varieties and a reversal of population distribution in the two main agricultural areas of China. Between 1050 and 1250 a second agricultural revolution in the lower Yangtze reclaimed extensive new areas for cultivation with extensive areas of upland paddy converted to cotton production. Large areas of N China, Manchuria and Sichuan became waste AD1250–1400 due to Mongol invasions and epidemics. Population fell from 99


c.150 million in 1150 to 80 million by 1381. By 1580 it had recovered to its 1150 level. Between 1500 and 1800 the spread of maize led to the large-scale intake for cultivation of previously marginal land. The Mongol invasion killed c.35 million people, mainly in the N. Epidemics in 1586–9 and 1639–44 killed one-fifth of the population. Over the last 3,000 years there has been a steady intensification and expansion of agriculture with consequent environmental deterioration to reach a low point in the C19. C17-China experienced climatic cooling contemporary with the Little Ice Age in Europe, with a fall in crop yields. The introduction in the C11 of faster-growing rice varieties allowed two crops a year. Unrest over food supplies and inability to mobilize famine relief may have brought the Ming dynasty to an end in 1644. The succeeding Qing dynasty was better organized and more able to respond to environmental challenges. Population fell heavily in the early C17 then increased again under the Qing from c.140 million in 1644 to c.350 million in 1800 due to warmer conditions and expanded agricultural output. The spread of maize and sweet potatoes in the C18 allowed the opening up of new land but was to bring environmental crisis in the longer term. By 1800, with expansion of agriculture and increased exploitation of timber and minerals, environmental degradation spread. The C18 Chinese settlement of the grasslands of inner Asia was comparable in some respects to N America; here too continuing land clearance without adequate water caused severe desertification. China has a great range of environments. In the river valleys of the E population has long been dense, sustained by crops of maize and potatoes but suffering from increasing clearance of forests and soil erosion. In S China, where water is plentiful, irrigation for rice is practised; in N China there is a shortage of water but wheat, millet, sorghum, maize, cotton and tobacco were grown. Under the Manchu dynasty, AD1644–1912, the Chinese empire doubled in size. Towards the end of this period railways began to open up new areas for farming, mining and forestry, reducing the risk of famine and encouraging a rapid increase in urban population and large-scale industry. By 1800 most of the country’s original forests had been felled due to the demands of agriculture and logging. Centralized social planning, as in the USSR, has experienced both striking successes and severe failures. Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward (1957–61) was disastrous: opening up new land to cultivation caused major environmental problems due partly to the indiscriminate use of machinery, fertilizers and pesticides on large collective farms causing erosion and 100


salinization of soils. By the 1970s land reclamation and overgrazing had severely damaged 0.5 million km2 of N grasslands. In the 1990s extensive areas were damaged by floods and droughts. Industry has been urged to increase production regardless of environmental and human costs. From the 1980s greater attention has been paid to the needs of the market. Efforts to check the flow of migrants to the towns from poorer rural areas have been unsuccessful. The long-term plan is to integrate 12 W provinces more closely with the rest of China, including the railway from Lhasa in Tibet to Qinghai (2006), the highest in the world (5,072 m). Industry has caused major pollution problems relating to air, rivers and sea. Although the Chinese have become more affluent under communism, famine and disease are still widespread. Family planning policies have been in place from 1971, the ‘one child only’ policy from 1978 for urban dwellers and later for suburban and more prosperous rural areas. In many areas, though, a second child is allowed if the first one is a girl. This policy is thought to have reduced population by c.300 million. On current trends total population seems likely to peak at c.1.45 billion by 2033 and then fall. Environmental laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s have been poorly enforced and industrial pollution has spread as the economy has grown, especially in the N where water supplies are limited. China is prone in any case to natural disasters such as floods, droughts and earthquakes (Edmonds 1998, Elvin 2004, Shapiro 2001, Smil 1984). China’s recent economic growth has been impressive: between 1978 and 1991 the gross national product increased by 8.6% per year, making China’s economy the fastest growing in the world. Inevitably this has attracted large amounts of foreign investment in development projects. China feeds 22% of the world’s population on 8% of global water resources, so the attraction of big dam schemes can be understood (see Three Gorges Dam). However, China also has a poor environmental record with one of the world’s most serious soil erosion problems, affecting as much as one-third of the arable land. This is a long-established feature of China: it is no accident that one of its great rivers is named the Yellow River. Water pollution and water scarcity are burdening the economy and causing birth defects. Worsening air pollution is threatening the health of millions. Desertification is another major concern. China makes a big contribution to many global problems, including global warming. Greater investment in tackling environmental problems was announced to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games but local officials ignored Beijing’s dictates and focused on economic growth. Energy use is unclean and inefficient, particularly coal. Pollution from transport is also rising with 101

China | cholera

14,000 new cars on the roads each day. The huge scale of urbanization means that 400 million people may have to be relocated to new urban centres by 2030. Centuries of deforestation, overgrazing and overcultivation have left much of the N and NW seriously degraded. By 2007 over one-third of the fish species in the Yellow River had become extinct due to damming and pollution. Pressure on the environment in early-modern China was greater than in W Europe. Environmental degradation reached unprecedented levels after 1949 with large-scale land clearance, irrigation and hydro-electric power schemes and industrial expansion. Between 1957 and 1977 c.10 million ha of agricultural land were lost to soil erosion (Elvin 2004, Elvin & Liv 1998, Ho 1959, Maohong 2004, Marks 1998, Menzies 1994, Murphey 1983, Perdue 1981, Richards 2006).

china clay Also known as kaolin, a mineral formed by the decomposition of feldspars in granite. Named after the village of Gaoling in Jiangxi province, China, where it was first mined and used in pottery manufacture. In 1746 deposits were found in Cornwall and Devon, England. Working them gave rise to distinctive landscapes dominated by white debris mounds. Over one-third of global production now comes from Georgia, USA.

chironomids Non-biting midges whose remains, especially the head capsules of larvae which are bottom-feeding, in lake sediments and peat bogs, can be used for accurate radiocarbon dating, avoiding the problem of contamination from older carbon washed in from erosion in the surrounding catchment. As various species are highly temperature sensitive the analysis of changes over time can allow reconstructions of lake temperature variations, eutrophication and salinity (Fallu et al. 2004, Jones et al. 1993, Landon et al. 2006, Laroque & Bigler 2004).

cholera Disease caused by bacterium Vibrio cholera, a diarrhaeal infection with very unpleasant symptoms and often rapid mortality spread by food or water contaminated by faecal material containing the cholera bacteria. Cholera was one of the most feared diseases in C19 W Europe. Although diseases with symptoms resembling cholera were known from early times in China and 102

cholera | Clean Air Acts, USA

India the first pandemic, 1817–23, spread from its source in the Ganges delta through Asia into Europe. The second one, 1826–37, affected Europe and the Americas and the third, 1846–63, was spread over much of the world. In 1832 over 100,000 died in France and over 5,000 in London. In 1854 John Snow, in a classic study of medical geography, established that cases in London were related to a specific water pump and that sewage-contaminated water was the source of cholera in London. Urban sanitary reforms helped to combat it (Kearns et al. 1985). Later pandemics occurred c.1865–75, 1881–96, 1889– 1923: nearly 1 million died in India in 1900. The 7th pandemic is still underway and the disease remains a serious problem in parts of Asia, S America and Africa. A vaccine, partially effective, was developed in the late C19.

Church, Frederic (1826–1900) American landscape artist who painted the American wilderness for its own sake. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he became a pupil of Thomas Cole and a key figure in the Hudson River School of landscape art. He settled in New York but travelled in S America 1853–7.

Cistercians A medieval monastic order. It was their rule from 1134 that their religious houses should be sited in remote, unpopulated areas. Accordingly they sought out wild and waste places or, if necessary, evicted peasants to create them. Their basic unit of land management was the monastic farm or grange, worked directly under the order’s management by lay brothers. Cattle were very important in N England and the Fens, on vaccaries or cattle ranches but sheep were also kept in large numbers in the N uplands. Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire, had 1,326 sheep, 536 oxen, 738 cows and 1,100 other horned cattle. Cistercian grazing management in Britain involved winter housing of sheep and cattle and was less intensive and more environmentally friendly than later systems (Bond 2004, Donkin 1978).

Clean Air Acts, USA The Clean Air Act of 1963 in the USA set higher standards and attempted to control emission of pollutants from industry, power plants and vehicles. The act was revised in 1970, 1977 and 1990. The 1970 act increased the federal role in controlling air pollution, the 1977 one set standards for national parks, National Wilderness Parks and National Memorial Parks. The 1990 amendment focused on problems of acid rain and ozone depletion. 103

climatic analogue | climatic change

climatic analogue A climatic pattern in the past that closely resembles one occurring in the present or which may occur in the future. One of the problems of using analogues is that similar climatic patterns may result from different processes and vice versa.

climatic change For most of the Quaternary climate at global, regional and more local scales has fluctuated in response to natural drivers in ways which are often complex and hard to understand. This has ranged from large-scale shifts between glacial and interglacial conditions and, within the Holocene, to more modest fluctuations such as the medieval climatic optimum and Little Ice Age which have nevertheless had marked impacts on human societies. Ruddiman (2005) argues that human societies have been altering climate on a substantial scale for the last 8,000 years, due to changes in vegetation with the spread of agriculture in Asia and Africa, then by 2,000 years ago the rest of the world. Comparisons with the last interglacial suggest that humans may have protected the planet from cooling by delaying the next ice age by c.5,000 years (Lee et al. 2008). Since the midC20, the problem of human-induced climatic change has become prominent (see global warming). Many climatic variables have only been widely measured with accuracy since the mid-C19; earlier changes have to be measured by proxy indicators derived from geological, biological, historical and archaeological sources. The record of climate history has been described as ‘spotty and imprecise’ (Brown 2001). Data are often ambiguous and difficult to interpret. Working from climatic changes to their possible human impacts is even more difficult (Caviedes 2001, Fagan 2004, Fleming 1998, Hughen et al. 1996, Hulme et al. 1994, Sherratt et al. 2005, Steinberg 2000, Weart 2003, Weiss 1982, Wigley et al. 1985). Major changes in land use during the last two centuries such as deforestation and the expansion of pasture and arable have increased albedo (see ice-albedo feedback mechanism); in the E and central USA temperatures have probably been reduced by up to 2– C in this way. On the other hand, cities are growing noticeably warmer with the development of urban heat islands. A growing body of evidence is showing that climatic changes in the past, rather than being gradual and progressive, could occur very rapidly, within a handful of years, as crucial thresholds or tipping points were crossed.


climatic optimum (postglacial) | coal

climatic optimum (postglacial) The peak of postglacial warmth of the Holocene was reached c.7.5 kya when, over the N Atlantic and Europe at least, average temperatures may have been 1–2– C warmer than today and in parts of the Arctic as much as 4– C warmer. This was enough to melt the Jostedalsbreen ice cap in Norway with tree limits up to 200 m higher than in recent times in Britain and the Alps. The limits of coniferous forest were c.250 km further N than today. It is not entirely clear whether this was a truly global phenomenon but it has been detected from ice cores in Antarctica and Canada as well as Europe.

Clovis, New Mexico, USA The Clovis culture, first identified at this site, lasted for around half a millennium c.11.2–10.9 kya. People of the Clovis culture are considered to have crossed the land bridge of Beringia between Alaska and Siberia when sea levels were low due to vast quantities of water being locked up in ice sheets. They are then thought to have moved through an ice-free corridor between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets into the heart of the continent and to have spread as far S as Tierra del Fuego within c.1,000 years (Martin & Klein 1984, Martin & Wright 1967). The Clovis people were successful, efficient big game hunters who within a few centuries had spread throughout N America. They also hunted smaller game like deer and rabbits and ate plants and fish, but were particularly fond of mammoth and bison. Most of their kill sites were on low ground near streams where they ambushed animals as they came to drink. The origins of the Clovis culture probably lie in Alaska. Knowledge of them comes from their kill sites rather than their settlements. They vanished abruptly from the archaeological record c.10.9 kya, being replaced by a wide range of hunter-gatherer cultures. The Clovis culture has been linked with the megafauna extinctions. Recently it has been suggested that both the N American megafauna and their Clovis hunters were wiped out by a comet striking the atmosphere over N America (Adovasio & Page 2002, Dillehay 2001, Kennett, 2009).

coal Generates more atmospheric pollution when burnt than any other fossil fuel, in terms of both gases and particles. Much larger reserves of coal exist than oil or natural gas. About half of these are in Russia, E Europe and China, around one-quarter in N America and only c.one-tenth in W Europe. 105

coal | coastal erosion and deposition

Burning coal supplies one-quarter of global primary energy. It has been used as a fuel since prehistoric times but only on a small scale until the Middle Ages. The major producers have been Britain from the C18, the USA by the early C20, the USSR from the mid-C20 and China from the 1980s. The productivity of mining has improved with mechanization. Coal was only used on a small scale for domestic and industrial purposes before the late C18 when Britain switched to smelting iron with it, but in N America charcoal was dominant until the late C19. After 1945 there was a fall in its use in the developed world as a domestic fuel but it remained important in blast furnaces and electricity generation. World production peaked at 3.6 billion metric tons of coal and 1.3 of lignite annually. Coal occurs in various forms ranging from lignite or brown coal (60–70% carbon; not much higher than peat) to anthracite (over 90% carbon). Medieval mining in W Europe was on a small scale working shallow bell pits and short horizontal levels. Deeper mining developed in the C17. The increasing demand for fuel for London, by 1700 the largest city in Europe, led to a massive expansion of coal mining on Tyneside and the rise of a major coasting trade. The development of the steam engine in the C18 and the railway in the C19 was linked to draining coal mines. Although many early textile factories in Britain were water powered, the rapid spread of steam power based on coal as a fuel, and the spread of coal for smelting iron and making steel, led to growing concentration of industries on coalfields first in Britain then in Europe and N America. Coal mining developed rapidly in Europe in the later C19, especially in N France and the Ruhr. Living and working conditions for miners were often poor and dangerous, as described by E´mile Zola in his novel Germinal (1885). In Scotland the need to secure a labour force for the mines led to the reintroduction of serfdom for coal miners and salt workers in the C17. Mining activity underground often led to subsidence at the surface causing damage to buildings and creating artificial lakes. Since 1945 it has become much cheaper to import coal from the USA or the developing world by bulk carrier than to mine it in Europe. The development of large, modern mines in N France and S Yorkshire has not stopped the decline of the industry.

coastal erosion and deposition Shorelines vary greatly in their resistance to erosion. Coastlines susceptible to erosion occur most readily in areas of high wave energy. Where cliffs are made up of soft rocks or unconsolidated sediments and longshore drift transports debris away, rates of erosion can be rapid, e.g. on the coasts of 106

coastal erosion and deposition | co-axial field systems

Yorkshire and E Anglia, England. Since medieval times sea level rise and storminess on the Holderness coast of Yorkshire has removed a strip of land 60 km long by 0.5 km wide (Pearson 2002). Further S the position of the major spit Spurn Head has changed markedly from medieval times leading to the abandonment of ports like Ravenser and Ravenser Odd. Deposition of sediments brought down by streams and their coastwise movement can lead to the silting up of harbours as with the medieval Cinque Ports in SE England. Coastal erosion can be countered by simple measures like breakwaters and groynes to reduce coastwise movement of sediment, or the entire coast can be armoured as in the Lancashire Fylde.

coastal protection Protection of coastal areas against erosion, marine flooding and the overtopping of levees by rivers near their mouths has a long history. Systems of defence using embankments and the pumping out of drainage water were piecemeal and small in scale down to the C18 in most parts of the world. The Dutch have produced some of the world’s best integrated national coastal flood protection systems. The Thames Barrier, planned after the coastal flooding of 1953 but not completed until 1984, was built to protect the city from the combined threats of coastal subsidence and sea level rise. Systems of levees supposedly protecting New Orleans were exposed as inadequate by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. New flood protection systems in Venice have not been completed fast enough to prevent serious flooding in 2012. With the threat of accelerated sea level rise due to global warming coastal defences are being upgraded in many parts of the world at great cost. Increasingly though it is being realized that hard engineering solutions are not always feasible, desirable or affordable. Attention is increasingly being turned to the concept of ‘managed retreat’ of coastlines where defences are abandoned and population moved to less vulnerable areas allowing erosion and flooding of the most threatened land to occur.

co-axial field systems Extensive prehistoric field systems in which boundaries have a common orientation and appear to have been the result of deliberate planning. Examples of Neolithic field systems have been found in Co. Mayo, Ireland. The Dartmoor reaves are Bronze Age in date (Fleming 1988). Studies of modern field boundaries from areas like E Anglia have revealed traces of regular field patterns over wide areas which appear to predate Roman roads 107

co-axial field systems | coleoptera

(Fleming 1987). Systems of so-called ‘Celtic fields’ dated to the Iron Age but possibly represent a reworking of earlier field systems, covered extensive areas of the chalk downlands of SE England until post-WW2 deep ploughing obliterated much of them. Planned systems of prehistoric fields may once have been found throughout S England. The Romans created large areas of centuriation (chequerboard field systems) in the Po valley and other parts of their empire, including E England. Such field systems can be discovered by examining boundaries on large-scale maps and stripping away those from more recent times to reveal earlier patterns (Hinton 1997, Williamson 1987, 1998b).

coffee Its origins lie in Ethiopia (Coffea arabica) and lowland forests of central Africa (C. canephora var robusta). The first of these has been traded for centuries, the second only from the later C20. Coffee was first cultivated on a large scale in the C15 in the Arabian peninsula, reaching Mecca by 1511, Cairo in 1510, Istanbul in 1532, Venice c.1615, Marseilles in 1644 and London in 1651. Its use spread with Islam as a permitted alterative to alcohol. From the C17 it began to be grown widely in European colonies, associated with extensive forest clearance, in the Caribbean, Ceylon, Indonesia, W and E Africa and India, but especially Brazil. There was a great increase in consumption in the C18 due to Europeans taking over production in the E Indies from 1712. Coffee thrives in fragile habitats. Much coffee has been produced by smallholders under the control of big producers until the recent advent of free trade coffee.

Cole, Thomas (1801–48) American artist who emigrated from England to the USA aged 17. The leader of the Hudson River School of landscape painting in the 1830s and 1840s who popularised the wildness of American landscapes. The Oxbow in the Connecticut River near Northampton (1836) illustrates the tension between wilderness and garden, savagery and civilization in the contemporary American landscape.

coleoptera The hard parts of coleoptera (beetles) are often abundant and wellpreserved in peat and other sedimentary deposits. Fossil beetle remains can often be identified at species level. From studying their modern 108

coleoptera | colonialism and imperialism

counterparts their environmental and temperature preferences can be established. They often have very specific climatic requirements and may thrive within quite narrow temperature ranges rather than being plantspecific. Their ability to respond rapidly to temperature changes and to colonize suitable new areas makes them a much faster-moving indicator of climatic changes than plants (Coope 1977, Coope et al. 1998). Changes in beetle assemblages over the last 50,000 years have allowed the identification of warm periods too short to be recognized by changes in vegetation, e.g. during the Windermere interstadial (13–12 kya).

colluvium Poorly sorted loose eroded sediments found at the base of cliffs and slopes.

colonialism and imperialism Colonies were established by European states between the C16 and the C19 to develop natural resources, increase trade, spread Christianity and allow settlement of surplus population, leading to the extraction of natural resources and the death of large numbers of native peoples from European diseases, warfare and slavery (Anker 2001, Drayton 2000, Ravi Ratan 2006). The main phases of European colonial expansion were: 1. c.1500–1799, mainly Spanish and Portuguese in central and S America plus the settlement of N America by British and French colonists. 2. c.1750–1850, British control of India, settlement of Australia and New Zealand. 3. Post-1850, the ‘scramble for Africa’. The European takeover caused the collapse of traditional societies as with the Aztecs, Incas, N. American Indians and Australian aborigines due to disease, slaughter and the appropriation of their land, though in SE Asia the indigenous population survived under colonial rule. In Africa and India it was a case of tropical diseases affecting Europeans rather than the indigenous population being devastated by diseases introduced by the Europeans so that there was no major decline in population as in America. Very few countries managed to maintain political and economic independence on their own terms; Japan was an exception. Native peoples’ rights were widely ignored and infringed. Colonies provided crops which could not be grown in Europe due to climatic limitations or lack of cheap labour and raw materials such as silver, 109

colonialism and imperialism | Columbus, Christopher (c.1451–1506)

gold and timber. From the later C19 there was a big increase in imports to Europe of raw materials from the colonies. Colonial agriculture began with the cultivation of sugar on Madeira by the Portuguese in the 1450s, adapting the plantation system which had been used in Cyprus. Berbers from N Africa were brought in as slaves, and Guanches in the Canaries. The Cape Verde islands depended on slaves from the Guinea Coast. European expansion was based on the slave trade and forced labour. Between 1500 and the early C19 around 10 million Africans were enslaved, 75,000 a year at the peak of the slave trade. When slavery was abolished labour from India, China and the Pacific was used on plantations in the Caribbean, S America, SE Asia and Australia. In the century after 1834, 30 million workers moved from India and 30 million more from China. The environmental impacts of colonialism involved the expropriation of land, the enslavement of populations or their conversion to poor labourers and a move from traditional farming systems, ecologically sensitive, to large-scale plantation agriculture. It is often claimed that pre-colonial natural resource management was superior in coherence and stability to those of colonial regimes. Prasad (1999) has suggested for central India that pre-colonial societies were unequal and oppressive. Colonialism and imperialism have formed the focus for environmental history in Africa, India and elsewhere. Colonialism promoted large-scale ecological change (Arnold 1996, 2006, Driver & Martins 2005, Griffiths & Robin 1997, Grove 1995, Dunlap 1999, Mackenzie 1983, 1997, Moon 2004, Olwig 2002, Stepan 2001). See ecological imperialism.

Columbus, Christopher (c.1451–1506) Genoese explorer and navigator who, sailing on behalf of Spain, made four voyages across the Atlantic leading to the European exploration and colonization of N and S America. On 12 October 1492 the crew of Columbus’ vessels sighted land in what became known as the Bahamas. This has been seen as the most significant event in modern global environmental history. His voyages led to a general awareness of the existence of the Americas and the process of European colonization of the ‘New World’ and the Pacific. Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbean began to set in motion massive environmental changes which continue today: deforestation, the expansion and intensification of agriculture, soil erosion, large-scale population movements of free men, indentured servants and slaves, and the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples as well as their unintentional destruction by European diseases. 110

combine harvester | commemoration: battlefields and wars

combine harvester A machine for harvesting grain crops which combines the processes of reaping, threshing and winnowing. First patented in 1834 the improved version by Cyrus McCormick was launched in 1841. By 1858 4,000 a year were being sold in the USA. By the 1870s machines drawn by teams of 40 horses were cutting swathes 11 m wide. In 1912 an internal combustion engine was used to power the machine for the first time and in the 1930s there was a shift from horse-drawn to tractor-driven machines. Combine harvesters transformed the landscapes of the world’s great grassland areas, particularly the American Mid-West and the Russian steppes, allowing a huge expansion in the area under cultivation.

commemoration: battlefields and wars Battlefields are ordinary locations where extraordinary events have taken place and are especially difficult landscapes to characterize and conserve (Newman 2004). In the US battlefield sites like the Alamo (1836), Gettysburg (1863) and the Little Bighorn (1876) and in Europe Waterloo (1815) and the Western Front (1914–18) have been deliberately conserved to reflect their historical importance. In England many medieval battles, like Bosworth (1485), the result of internecine faction fighting, were given little contemporary recognition, making their modern identification difficult. Communities near battlefields did not necessarily have much connection with the combatants and could not afford to lose good agricultural land by preserving them. In England even the sites of key victories against the Scots (e.g. Flodden, 1513) received little commemoration. In Scotland and Ireland later battlefields like Culloden (1746) and the Boyne (1690) have been commemorated in more detail and have been protected from modern developments (though not Bannockburn (1314)). It is relatively rarely that commemoration on a battlefield is totally impartial to both sides. Interpretations of battlefields can be hijacked by dominant elites, as at the Alamo, where the role of the Anglos on the Texan side has been emphasized and the contribution of the Latinos downweighted. The emerging discipline of battlefield archaeology can add significantly to knowledge both of what happened and why (Pollard 2004, Pollard & Oliver 2002). The idea of commemorating battles and wars spread in Europe and America during the later C19 and earlier C20. In Britain, memorials to soldiers killed in the Boer War predated the ubiquitous ones commemorating the far more numerous dead of WW1. Before this period statuary had 111

commemoration: battlefields and wars | commemoration: churchyards

been confined largely to churches, urban squares and landed estates. Commemoration in the landscape increasingly reflected the glorification of the pasts of nation states to legitimise their modern political circumstances. Landscapes of commemoration are often contested. This can be seen on the Western Front. In previous wars national leaders and heroes, like Lord Nelson, were commemorated rather than the men they led. The rise of individualism and the unprecedented scale of loss of life in WW1 led to a different approach and the creation of cemeteries close to the battle sites with uniform, simple grave markers. Before the later C19 the environmental impact of even a major battle was often limited and transitory. The development of breech-loading rifles instead of muskets and explosive shells rather than roundshot increased the scale of damage during the American Civil War (1861–5) and FrancoPrussian War (1870–1). The scale of environmental modification on the Western Front during WW1 was of a different order of magnitude with elaborate systems of trenches and dugouts, huge artillery bombardments and the setting off of massive underground mines. The Lochnagar Crater, created on 1 August 1916 by over 24 tons of explosives, has been preserved as a battlefield memorial site. Nevertheless as a result of several years of hard work after 1918 many of the visual scars have been removed or softened – apart from the ubiquitous war cemeteries. The study and preservation of landscape remains of military activity from WW2 is relatively recent. Many features, such as coastal anti-invasion defences, have been removed since 1945 and are only now being preserved (Cameron 1999, Clout 1997, De Olivier 1996, Heffernan 1995, Johnson 1994, Withers 1996).

commemoration: churchyards Tombstones or grave markers were in the past often laid on the surface rather than standing upright, possibly in early times to protect bodies from wild animals. They were widely used in the ancient world. The practice of erecting churchyard tombstones for ordinary people was not widespread in Britain before the C17. Before this churchyards were open and were often used for activities like markets. Many tombstones are decorated with symbols of mortality such as skulls, angels and hourglasses. They were important symbols of wealth and status. The stone used could vary greatly in resistance to weathering and tombstones are often a good indicator of former air pollution. Their dates are good chronological markers for lichenometry. The protection of churchyards from grazing animals means that many of them today are, 112

commemoration: churchyards | Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

effectively, flower-rich meadows, many of which are protected for their biodiversity.

commemoration: individuals The commemoration of prominent individuals from the past may be contested. A statue of the 10th Duke of Sutherland outside Golspie, Scotland, records his career as an agricultural improver at the time of the Highland Clearances, changing the landscape and environment of the far N of Scotland on a grand scale and in the process displacing thousands of families from their homes. Recent attempts by the Scottish National Party to have the statue removed have been opposed by local people, who value it as a familiar landmark. Equally the demolition of statues – of Lenin in E Europe following the collapse of communism or Saddam Hussein after the second Gulf War – symbolised regime change.

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) A package of regulations adopted by member states of the EU (formerly EEC) providing a unified policy framework on agriculture with the aim of maximizing productivity, providing farmers with reasonable standards of living and offering acceptable prices to consumers. The aims and objectives of the CAP were initially agreed by the original six members of the EEC between the Treaty of Rome (1957) and 1962, the first measures being introduced in 1967. When the EEC was first established a key element was alleviating the poor condition of agriculture in the member states. A major task was to develop agriculture and give farmers better standards of living by subsidizing the prices they received under the CAP. The CAP was also created to solve the problems of food shortages and stabilizing prices. The CAP is the most widespread policy in the EU. Problems associated with it have included overproduction (butter mountains, wine lakes). The system encouraged the spread of agribusiness, intensive, mechanized farming with farm and field enlargement, the removal of boundaries such as hedgerows and the intensive application of chemical fertilizers. More recently there have been shifts from a focus on agricultural to broader rural policies, including conservation, industry, forestry and tourism. In the 1990s headage payments for livestock in marginal areas were widely blamed for overgrazing and the system has since been modified to reduce environmental degradation (Bowler 1985). In January 2005 a radical change removed the link between production and payment and quotas were abolished. The CAP now has a stronger environmental commitment with 113

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) | commons: England and Wales

policies to remove land from intensive agriculture and undertake environmental improvements. The CAP is still the largest common policy in the EU costing £30 billion a year, half of the EU budget.

common fields See open fields.

commons: England and Wales Pastures or waste land in private ownership over which third parties have rights to a profit a` prendre. Common rights can include grazing, turbary (peat or turf), estovers (wood), piscary (fish) and pannage (acorns and beech mast for pigs) but there is no legal right of access by the general public. The term ‘common’ does not indicate unlimited or unconditional use. Numbers of animals grazed by each commoner may be limited by the rule of levancy and couchancy under which commoners can graze as many animals on the common in summer as they can maintain on their own lands in winter, or by stinting, where each commoner was allocated a fixed number of grazing units (often termed cattlegates) with a conversion system for how many sheep’s grazing is equivalent to that of one cow etc. Commoners not using their full share might be allowed to rent grazing rights to outsiders (agistment). Common rights were not necessarily held by all inhabitants in a community, even those owning property, but were often tied to particular holdings and cottages. Commons might also include village greens and funnel-shaped droveways from settlements out on to the main commons. Encroachments on commons during periods of population pressure were often allowed by manorial courts on payment of a fine and then a normal rent. Commons were a multi-purpose resource, not merely grazing but also wildfowl, wood, timber, bracken, heather, peat, stone, sand and gravel. In England lower, more accessible parts of commons were often enclosed between the C16 and C18: in the Pennines as cow pastures shared between small groups of farmers, in the Lake District as intakes belonging to individual farms. Sheep grazed on commons might be tied to particular heafs, areas of common from which they did not stray and to which they would try to return if moved (Winchester 2000). In early-modern times grazing on commons, and other practices such as cutting peat, were regulated by manorial courts. From the later C18 this system began to break down due to pressures from the droving trade and rising grain prices encouraging conversion to arable. Parliamentary enclosure was often seen as the only solution. Nevertheless, many commons continued to 114

commons: England and Wales | commons: Scotland

function into the C19 and C20 with some regulation from manorial courts or new commoners’ associations. Boundaries between commons were often only delimited on the ground by natural features and cairns or boundary stones so that animals could intercommon over extensive areas with periodic meetings to sort out strays. Regular boundary perambulations were held and the testimony of the oldest inhabitants in a community was often sought as to where the line of a boundary had been in their youth. About 1 million ha of common land in England were ‘improved’ by parliamentary enclosure but some 0.5 million ha are still registered as common today in England and Wales, c.4% of the total land area. Much of this is concentrated in the N and W, including Cumbria, Yorkshire, the Brecon Beacons and Devon. The Commons Regulation Act 1876 allowed the regulation of grazing and the improvement of commons management without resorting to enclosure. Commons registration in 1965 was supposed to define who did, and did not, have common rights but the process was badly thought out and produced chaos.

commons: Europe Commons were also extensive in many parts of Europe. In the Netherlands they still amounted to 1 million ha in the mid-C19 and covered 17% of the land area as late as 1955, being most extensive on inland sandy soils. In C19 France they were still widespread in Brittany, the Alps, Massif Central and Pyrenees. Common lands came under increasing attack in the C19 as pressure to divide and ‘improve’ them grew (De Moor et al. 2002). In Spain the law of common lands reduction (1855) ordered the Forester Corps to prepare a survey of grazing land, scrub and woodland to be sold off. High mountain areas were excluded because of their importance in water supply (Sala 2000). In the Pyrenees the expansion and consolidation of state power over-isolated peasant communities involved an attack on the resources held in common, including common land (Birtle 1999, De Moor et al. 2002, Hardin 1968, Hoskins & Stamp 1963, Ostrom 1990, Straughton 2004, 2008, Winchester 2000).

commons: Scotland See commonties. In Shetland common lands were known as scattalds and were based on Norse udal law rather than Scottish feudal law. They were nevertheless divided up under the Scottish Division of Commonty Act 1695.


Commons Preservation Society | communism

Commons Preservation Society Britain’s oldest conservation body, formed in England in 1868 by Octavia Hill and Robert Hunter to preserve surviving commons, initially around London, from encroachment in order to allow their use for the recreation of the city’s population. It was renamed the Open Spaces Society in 1894. (See commons, National Trust, parliamentary enclosure.)

commons, tragedy of Theory put forward in 1968 by American biologist Garrett Hardin who argued that resources held in common would inevitably be misused as individuals would take more than their fair share and ignore the common good. The history of commercial fishing and whaling indicates that Hardin’s ideas have some validity but Ostrom (1990) has argued for common pastures that collective institutions like manorial courts can regulate such resources reasonably fairly and sustainably.

commonties Rough pasture in Scotland in shared ownership between two or more proprietors and grazed by the animals of their tenants. This shared ownership made them unlike English commons, which belonged to specific manorial lords and where encroachment was often allowed or tacitly accepted. Any encroachment by a tenant on a commonty was a declaration of property which disadvantaged all the proprietors. As a result encroachment was usually strongly resisted. An act of the Scottish Parliament in 1695 allowed the division and enclosure of commonties by a simple process, overseen by the Court of Session, which was quicker and cheaper than English parliamentary enclosure (Adams 1971).

communism The Soviet and Chinese approach to environmental management and change in a command economy involved big projects (dams, irrigation works) aimed at short-term targets regardless of long-term environmental and human consequences. The approach was wasteful and inefficient, leading to the environmental degradation of huge areas (Richter 1997). The Virgin Lands Scheme in the Russian steppes in the 1950s is a good example of grandiose thinking with an impressive start subsequently undermined by poor planning and limited appreciation of environmental problems. It started under Nikita Krushchev in 1954 with the aim of ploughing up of 116

communism | conservation

large areas of fragile soils in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. It involved a huge population movement, initially of over 300,000 new farmers from Russia and the Ukraine. In 1955 190,000 km2 were ploughed, mainly for wheat. Continued overcultivation led to wind erosion on a massive scale and much of the land was abandoned in the 1960s. The Chinese Great Leap Forward under Mao Zedong had similar effects. It was only with the collapse of the communist regimes in the USSR and E Europe that the scale of environmental damage became clear. Other communist states, like Cuba and N Korea, have also experienced serious environmental problems. (See Aral Sea, Barents Sea, Caspian Sea, China.)

Concord, Massachusetts, USA A tamed, civilised countryside which gave rise to a school of American landscape figuring in the writing of Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau.

conservation The deliberate protection, management, exploitation and restoration of natural resources and environments to allow their long-term survival. Unlike preservation, conservation recognizes that ecosystems are not unchanging and require positive management, though there may be problems regarding which baseline to work from, especially where human interference with ecosystems over long periods of time has occurred, e.g. heather moorland. Conservation may require the use of traditional management practices like coppicing. Developed from the late C19, especially in the USA, as a result of urbanization, industrialization, nationalism and imperialism. The initiator of the movement has been seen by some as George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature (1864) while others point to William Wordsworth’s description of the Lake District in 1810 as ‘a sort of national property’ which has been seen as presaging the national park movement. But Marsh was influenced in turn by the ideas of earlier British colonial administrators in S Africa and India, especially on afforestation. The idea at the core of the early conservation movement was that of government ownership of key environments like forests. In 1883 New York State created a forest preserve in the Adirondack Mountains. In 1891 the US government passed the Forest Reserve Act. Ten years later there were 54 national forest parks in the USA. There was much resistance to this trend from people in the affected areas. The dispute over the damming of the Hetch Hetchy valley in Yosemite National Park exposed divisions among the conservationist lobby. Conservation policy in the USA got a 117

conservation | Constable, John (1776–1837)

boost in the 1930s from F.D. Roosevelt who incorporated conservation into his policies for recovery from the Great Depression. US environmental historians have seen the conservation movement as being replaced by the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s. In many developing countries colonial conservation programmes were instituted under colonial rule with the creation of national parks, forest reserves and game preserves continuing after independence (Spence 1999). Conservation involves excluding from specific areas a range of humaninduced processes generally summarised as ‘development’. It may involve true wilderness areas or environments already significantly affected by human activity. Designation with legislation and sustainable management act to preserve the existing environment and keep out undesirable influences. Management may be ‘hands off’, as in wilderness areas, or more intensive (Beinart 2004).

conservation areas Created in Britain from 1967, urban or suburban areas distinguished for their architectural or historic interest where protection extends not just to individual buildings but also to the areas around them. Conservation areas include historic town centres, villages, suburban areas, mansions and their parks, industrial and transport features such as canals. Within conservation areas developments are strictly controlled by local planning authorities so that additions like new windows, satellite dishes and conservatories would not be permitted while trees may be subject to tree preservation orders. Conservation Area status may increase the selling price of property but restrict residents’ ability to develop or alter their houses. Similar designations exist in other countries such as India and New Zealand but with different scales and purposes.

Constable, John (1776–1837) Landscape artist whose work emphasized elements of continuity rather than change in the English landscape. He revolutionized the role of the landscape painter to that of converting observation into expression. In his early days he accepted, in part, the conventions of the Picturesque. His almost obsessive focus on the landscapes of the Stour valley can only be understood in relation to his complex, often difficult, relationships with his family and local society there. Pictures of places like Dedham Mill and Flatford Mill can be seen differently when it is appreciated that they were owned by his family and that his father had expected him to take over the 118

Constable, John (1776–1837) | Cooper, James Fenimore (1796–1851)

family milling business. Constable was the painter of non-Picturesque England, the landscape of intensive commercialized cereal farming, an ordered landscape with a highly stratified society. The landscape imagery of England has been strongly influenced by Constable whose pictures, notably his Haywain (1821) were seen as quintessentially English from the late C19 onwards. The area that he painted has become ‘Constable Country’ and was depicted in WW1 recruiting posters. The Stour valley is now an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Whyte 2002).

contour ploughing Ploughing parallel to the contours rather than up and down a slope to reduce soil erosion.

conurbation An urbanized or metropolitan region formed by the expansion and coalescing of cities, towns and industrial areas: not just a single large city. Examples include, in Britain Greater Manchester-Merseyside and the W Midlands, in France the area around Lille, in the Netherlands the Randstad and in the USA the NE ‘megalopolis’.

Cook, James (1728–79) British cartographer, navigator and explorer. His three voyages of exploration to the Pacific and the S Ocean (1768–71, 1772–5, 1776–9) were a remarkable achievement. He established the coastlines of Australia and New Zealand, sailed further S than anyone had previously ventured, disproving in the process the existence of a southern continent, and evaluated the environment, resources and cultures of a wide range of places and peoples. Like Columbus his arrival marked the start of a major epoch of colonization and environmental change (Collingridge 2003).

Cooper, James Fenimore (1796–1851) American Romantic novelist, friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. His Leatherstocking novels (1823–41) encouraged a new pride in and appreciation of the forest landscapes of the USA. His novels celebrated the simple, pioneering life and the concept of the noble savage, eulogising the frontiersman yet regretting the passing of the wilderness.


coppicing | coral reefs

coppicing From the French couper, to cut. A woodland management technique involving cutting down deciduous trees and leaving their stumps in place. If protected from grazing animals the stumps or stools send up crops of shoots which can be harvested at intervals of 6–25 years to produce poles for making tools, wattle or for burning to produce charcoal. Coppice woods were divided into units, one of which was cut each year. Coppicing goes back to Neolithic, perhaps even Mesolithic, times the practice having provided the wood for prehistoric trackways in the Somerset Levels. There are Roman and Saxon records of its use. Some modern coppice stools are many centuries old. Standards (trees allowed to grow uncut to maturity) among the coppices provided larger construction timber. Coppicing was the most common form of woodland management in Britain in preindustrial times. There was a widespread transition from wood pasture to coppicing in the late Middle Ages as the demand for iron grew. It was also widely practiced in Europe. In Switzerland in the C19 coppice (niederwald) was increasingly transformed into high forest (hochwald) via coppice with standards (mittelwald) (Buergi 1999). English place names with the elements copse, copy, hag and spring indicate its former existence. Coppicing almost died out in the C20 but has been undergoing a revival to promote wildlife and local industries (Rackham 1980).

coral reefs Underwater structures of calcium carbonate secreted by corals, colonies of invertebrates or polyps in shallow tropical seas. Extremely species rich and productive but vulnerable marine ecosystems made up of carbonate produced by coral animals called polyps in symbiosis with algae. Coral reefs occur in seas with temperatures of c.20–30– C, between 30N and 30S of the Equator. They are fragile and easily damaged: at a small scale by diving, more widely by contamination with sediment and other pollutants or by fishing. Coral can also be affected by bleaching (dying off) when sea ˜ o events temperatures exceed 30– C. This can happen as a result of El Nin but there is concern that its recent wider occurrence may be linked to global warming. Coral bleaching was first noticed in the 1920s but has increased greatly since the 1980s. There are various types of reef: fringing, in shallow water around islands and larger land masses, barrier in deeper water further offshore, and atolls which are ring shaped and are independent from land masses. The largest occur in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific including the Great Barrier Reef in Australia which has been damaged 120

coral reefs | cotton

by prolonged souvenir-hunting by tourists (Daley 2006, Daley & Griggs 2008). Reefs protect coasts from marine erosion but are a navigational hazard, associated with countless shipwrecks. The dating of coral reefs at different depths allows patterns of past sea level change to be reconstructed.

Cosgrove, Professor Denis (1948–2009) Professor of cultural and historical geography, University of California, Los Angeles. A major influence on shaping his subject, developing the idea that landscape was not something external and objective to the observer but internal, a mental construct or ‘way of seeing’. He developed his ideas from studies of landscapes, and their design and perception, in Renaissance Italy, particularly the work of Andrea Palladio and the development of perspective (Cosgrove 1984, 1985, 1993, 2001, Cosgrove & Daniels 1988).

cosmogenic dating Cosmogenic isotopes are created when elements in the atmosphere and the earth are bombarded with cosmic radiation from space. The accumulation of these isotopes within a rock shows how long it has been exposed to the atmosphere, allowing the calculation of dates from a few thousand to 10 million years. The technique has been used to date environmental episodes such as landslides for periods beyond those covered by historical records.

cotton A major crop for millennia, cotton is made from the seed hair fibre of plants of the genus Gossypium from the Malvaceae family. The fibres are classified by their length: long staple fibres produce the highest-quality cloth like Sea Island, Egyptian and Pima; medium and short staple fibres produce coarser fabrics. Cotton was used in ancient Egypt, China, India and Peru. There was a great expansion of production from the C18 as mechanized cotton cloth production was one of the foundations of the Industrial Revolution, and cotton was one of the main products of the American colonies, causing it to replace flax and wool based textiles. The cotton gin (1793), which separated seeds from fibres mechanically transformed the economy of the American S and was indirectly a major cause of the American Civil War. From the 1990s China has been the greatest producer, followed by the USA (Daniels 1985, Munro 1987).


Council for the Preservation of Rural England | crofting

Council for the Preservation of Rural England Established in 1926 by Sir Patrick Abercrombie due to concerns over urban sprawl and especially ribbon development into the countryside, this is one of the oldest environmental groups. It has had an important influence on legislation, notably the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Its president since 2007 has been the American author and environmental campaigner Bill Bryson.

crannogs In Scotland and Ireland artificial islands in lakes or, less commonly, tidal estuaries, supporting one or more circular huts. Crannogs were used from Neolithic to post-medieval times but were most common in the late prehistoric/early historic periods. They might be linked to shore by causeways or incorporate small harbours. Some at least were high status sites. A number were discovered in SW Scotland in the C19 when lochs were drained for agricultural improvement but many more have been identified in recent times using sub-aqua equipment. In large lakes like Loch Awe and Loch Tay the locations of crannogs are closely related to areas of better-quality land suitable for cultivation. c.1,000 are known from Ireland (Morrison 1985).

Crawford, O.G.S. (1886–1957) British archaeologist and pioneer in the use of aerial photographs to understand the landscape. An observer in the Royal Flying Corps during WW1, Crawford was appointed in 1920 as the Ordnance Survey’s first archaeologist. He also founded the archaeological journal Antiquity (Bowden 2001).

crofting Crofts were small agricultural holdings in Scotland which were not large enough to provide a full living, necessitating additional employment (e.g. in fishing, kelp burning, tweed manufacture). A characteristic feature of the Scottish Highlands, especially the N and W where they are often grouped in large, regular townships. Although small agricultural holdings had long been a feature of this region, with limited areas of improvable land and high population levels, crofting developed as a result of the Highland Clearances from the late C18 to mid-C19 when populations were cleared 122

crofting | cropmarks

from interior glens to make way for commercial sheep farming and were moved to new settlements on the coast, sometimes on land which had not previously been improved. The small area of the crofts was supplemented in many cases by extensive common grazings. Until an act of 1976 allowed crofters to buy their land crofts were rented. An act of 1886 gave crofters security of tenure and the right to pass crofts on to their heirs and established a Crofting Commission to oversee fair relations between landlord and tenant. Crofts were formerly cropped for potatoes, oats and barley often using hand cultivation associated with the use of the cas chrom, or foot plough, and lazy beds (Devine 1994, Hunter 2000, Mackenzie et al. 2004, Withers 1988).

Cronon, William (1954–) American environmental historian and a major influence on the develop of the subject in the USA who has shown how the conceptualisation of property by cultures affects environments, and how important was the environmental impact of pre-Columbian Indian cultures before the arrival of Europeans (Cronon 1983, 1991).

crop failure May be caused by adverse weather conditions, insect and fungal pests or war. Harvest failure was often identified in early chronicles. It could lead to famine especially where transportation systems were incapable of importing surplus food from unaffected areas. Famine in turn could precipitate a demographic crisis. Clusters of years of crop failures may indicate particularly bad periods of weather conditions, as in Scotland and Finland in the later 1690s (Ladurie 1971, Lamb 1982). In practice crops rarely failed totally in that absolutely nothing was harvested but if the quantity and quality of what was gathered in was very poor then people suffered. Most farmers could survive a single bad year by tightening their belts but two successive ‘failed’ harvests might break them. Farmers had the advantage of direct access to what food supplies there were but both agricultural and industrial workers would suffer severely if the prices of staple foodstuffs suddenly doubled or trebled while wages remained fixed.

cropmarks The rate of growth of crops is related, among other things, to soil moisture. Buried features such as infilled ditches or the foundations of walls may 123

cropmarks | Culbin Sands

show up on the surface as crop marks if the soil above them holds more or less water than the soil round about. Cropmarks may be visible at ground level but are more readily identified from the air.

crops, diffusion of For the early diffusion of crops from the Near E see agricultural origins. Between the C7 and C10AD there was an important set of crop of introductions to Europe from the Islamic world and SE Asia. Sugar cane came from India via Mesopotamia to the Levant, Egypt and Cyprus. Hard wheat came from Ethiopia to the Mediterranean after the C13AD becoming a staple in N Africa (couscous) and Italy (pasta). Rice spread from the Near E into Italy by the late C15, citrous fruits from SE Asia to the Mediterranean by the C10. From America maize had reached W Africa and Europe by the end of the C16. It gave double the yield of wheat but spread slowly, possibly due to the Little Ice Age. It had become a staple in Egypt by the C16, and spread into the Balkans and India in the C19. China adopted maize from the early C16. Potatoes reached Spain by 1520, England and Germany by the end of the C16, Scandinavia by the late C17 and N America via Europe from 1718. Only in Ireland and the Balkans did it become a staple before the C19.

Crosby, Alfred See ecological imperialism.

Culbin Sands In 1694 the barony of Culbin in NE Scotland, including a settlement and landowner’s house, was overwhelmed by blowing sand during a storm. Records of blowing sand on this coast go back to AD1100 and there had been increased drifting since 1670 but this storm was the last straw and the area was abandoned. The effects of the storms may have been exacerbated by the pulling of marram grass (Ammophilia arenaria) on the dunes by local people to use as thatch. This led to an act by the Scottish Parliament in 1695 banning the pulling of grass on sand dunes, an early example of conservation legislation. The area remained a sandy waste with dunes up to 100 feet high for over a century. From 1839 the planting of shelter belts helped stabilise the sand. Between 1922 and 1945 the estate was owned by the Forestry Commission which planted large areas of


Culbin Sands | cultural values, imported

coniferous woodland. Estate records from the W Highlands and Islands identify other settlements lost to sand blow at this period (Dodgshon 2005).

cultivation limits The cultivated area in the past was limited by environmental constraints such as altitude, latitude, slope, drainage and soil quality as well as the hardiness of the crop varieties used, and also demographic economic and technological constraints. Under pressure of population cultivation limits could be pushed to extremes, e.g. as high as 305 m on Bodmin Moor, England in the C12 and C13AD. Parry (1975, 1978), studying the Lammermuir Hills in SE Scotland, tried to show that at this time, with warmer and drier conditions than today, cultivation limits pushed uphill to high levels. Between the C14 and the C18 cultivated land at the uphill margins was abandoned and cultivation limits fell, partly, he claimed, because of climatic deterioration. Parry’s model is no longer accepted uncritically. The date of the creation and abandonment of his settlements has been challenged, while other upland areas like the Cheviots have been shown to have experienced continuous cultivation of cereals right through the Little Ice Age (Tipping 1998, 2010). In S Scotland much arable land was abandoned in the first half of the C18 as a result of a shift towards commercial livestock production (Dodgshon 1976). Following the later C19 agricultural depression in Britain there was further abandonment of arable fields and improved pasture with considerable areas becoming colonized by hawthorn (Crataegus monogna) and blackthorn (Prunes spinosa). There were phases of major expansion of cultivation during WW1 and WW2 with reversion of land to scrub in between.

cultural landscapes Landscapes which result from modification of natural environments by human activity. Those which evolve gradually have been termed organic landscapes as opposed to planned landscapes which were created at a specific period due to an overarching design (Winchester 2006).

cultural values, imported The transfer of attitudes, perceptions and ways of treating environments into new contexts which may be much less appropriate. Diamond (2005) cites Norse settlers in Iceland and Greenland who brought their cultural values from Norway into less robust environments. Similarly British 125

cultural values, imported | Cuvier, Georges, Baron (1769–1832)

colonists in Australia and New Zealand also brought values which were inappropriate to the environment in which they settled and which created environmental problems for later generations. Especially important in Australia were the introduction of sheep, rabbits and foxes and the import of land values based on British perceptions of productivity. Introduced British plants and birds like the house sparrow and starling as well as rabbits were eventually to consume half the pasture available for sheep and cattle. Sheep farming in Australia is now ingrained in the country’s cultural identity although the environment is not particularly well suited to raising sheep.

cursus monuments Late Neolithic avenues defined by parallel earth banks 60–185 m apart and up to several km long. First discovered on the chalklands of S England but now known from throughout Britain. One of the components of Neolithic ritual sites whose functions remain enigmatic (Tilley 1994).

Cuvier, Georges, Baron (1769–1832) French naturalist and zoologist, one of the great names of natural history. He established the concept of extinction through palaeontology using mammoth fossils, identifying pterodactyls and supporting the idea of catastrophism in geology while opposing gradualist theories of evolution.


D dams Dams have been used to control water flow for agriculture and other purposes since the first farming communities in the Near E. They are first recorded from the Nile valley c.3000BC. In China by the C2BC earth dams 30 m high were being built. In medieval and later times in Europe they were constructed to generate water power for industry. From the C19 they were increasingly used to provide supplies of drinking water for towns and cities. New materials like concrete and better designs allowed larger dams to be built first in Europe and N America, then throughout the world. In the late C19 and C20 many were built to generate hydro-electric power. The USA pioneered river basin management with the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1933. This approach was copied in the USSR, India and elsewhere. In the C20 dams were built to regulate the flow of some of the world’s greatest rivers such as the Nile and Yangtze, providing water for irrigation, industry, hydro-electric power, domestic use and facilitating navigation. Major dams have been seen as national prestige symbols, legitimising governments and popularising their leaders. Dams were the preferred solution to water management problems between the 1930s and 1970s, symbols of economic success and political power, but very expensive with major environmental impacts. By the 1990s two-thirds of the world’s streamflow went over or through dams of some kind. In recent decades large dam schemes have had a unique hold on human imagination, symbolising technological progress, ‘taming’ ‘wild’ rivers whose waters would otherwise be ‘wasted’. They are more than a means of generating electricity: they are expressions of the domination of the technological age over nature, icons of scientific progress and economic development. On the 127


negative side big dams have been described as being to a nation’s development what nuclear bombs are to its military arsenal: weapons of mass destruction. The damming of rivers causes physical changes upstream as well as downstream. The upstream gradient of a river may be reduced causing deposition of sediment and ecological change. Migratory fish may be unable to reach spawning grounds. Loss of sediment from floodplains downstream may force a shift from regular floods to irrigation and salinization. There is also the danger of dam failure due to faulty construction, the instability of underlying rocks or earthquakes, as happened with the Vaiont Dam in the Italian Alps on 9 October 1963. At 262 m high it was one of the tallest in the world when finished in 1961. The rising water destabilised the slopes above and a landslide into the reservoir caused a huge wave to overtop the dam and flood the valley below resulting in 2,043 deaths. One of the most famous dam failures was the Johnstown Dam, E Pennsylvania which was breached on 31 May 1889. A 40-year-old earth dam, it stood 17 km and 150 m above the city. It was poorly constructed and clumsy efforts to strengthen it were counterproductive. It failed after heavy rain, sending a wall of water 20–30 m high down the valley, drowning c.2,200 people. There are over 40,000 large (at least 15 m high) dams in the world today, c.35,000 of them built since 1950. In India the Narmada River project has involved 3,200 dams in the one river basin (Goldsmith & Hildyard 1984, McCully 2001). China had eight dams of this size in 1949, over 19,000 in 2000 against 6,575 for the USA and 4,291 for India. Between 1996 and 2001 c.1,000 large dams were built worldwide. Construction rates peaked in the 1980s and have since fallen partly because many of the best sites have already been used, and partly due to opposition locally and nationally to the impact of such schemes (McCully 2001, Scudder 2001). The functions of large dams are to store water to compensate for fluctuations in river flow, or to meet the demand for hydro-electric power and to enable water to be diverted to a canal or to increase its head, for generating power (one-fifth of the world’s electricity comes from hydro-electric sources), providing water for agriculture and industry, controlling floods and aiding navigation. The environmental record of big dam and irrigation schemes has been described as appalling. At best many large dams are only marginally viable economically. Although around half the world’s large dams have been built primarily for irrigation they have, at most, contributed to only 12–16% of world food production. Because of poor planning, poor construction standards or fraudulent diversion of funds, the overrun of construction costs on large dam projects is often massive. Large dam schemes have often 128


been badly designed with major unexpected technical problems and long delays. In addition they have often failed to generate the expected power output. Geological data and hydrological information have often been inadequate or, where available, ignored. Large dams can trigger earthquakes through water under pressure being forced into cracks and lubricating geological faults. Attempts to control flooding by damming rivers may only increase the damage that is done; average floods may be eradicated but the impact of major floods can be increased (McCully 2001). Dams also lead to the flooding of cultivated land. Around the world an estimated 400,000 km2 have been lost, much of it fertile alluvial land. Once a dam is built the character of the river channel downstream can change rapidly. Sediment below the dam is removed, and is no longer replaced from upstream. By 1987 it was estimated that c.50 km3 of sediment was being trapped each year in the reservoirs of large dams. Major reservoirs may lose more than 2% of their capacity every year, due to sediment infill with ever higher proportions on rivers like the Yellow River in China. The Sanmenxia dam on the Yellow River, built from 1987, has lost 40% of its capacity due to sedimentation. The Yangouxia dam, higher on the same river, lost one-third of its capacity even before it started generating power. There can also be reductions of water quality in reservoirs due to the long time that water is held there: algal blooms can deprive fish and other aquatic life of oxygen and make the water unfit for domestic or industrial use. Dams in hot climates can increase markedly the amount of water lost by evaporation; about one-third of the river flow of the Colorado is lost in this way. Dams cause problems for migratory fish such as salmon which may be barred from their spawning grounds unless fish ladders are provided. Dams are a physical danger if they collapse due to poor design or earthquakes, or if they are overtopped by floodwater. Some 200 major dams outside China have failed for such reasons and over 13,500 people have been drowned in these incidents. In China the scale of disaster has been an order of magnitude worse, due to a catastrophic series of dam bursts in Henan province in 1975 which may have drowned around 230,000 people. Dam schemes also cause human misery due to inadequate resettlement programmes. In India 75% of displaced people have received no alternative land or housing. Up to 80 million people around the world have lost land and homes without compensation. Dams in the Yangtze basin alone are thought to have displaced more than 10 million. People may lose their land to provide accommodation for construction workers or have it expropriated 129

dams | Dartmoor

by the state for wildlife reserves or afforestation designed to mitigate the environmental impacts of a dam, while people in an area expected to be flooded can suffer from long-term planning blight and loss of government funds years before construction even starts. Where resettlement schemes have been implemented they have often been badly planned and executed (Ulrich 1999). (See Aswan High Dam, Three Gorges Dam.)

Danube 2,850 km long from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, passing through ten countries, its basin one of the most international in the world. Its delta is the largest surviving wetland area in Europe, extremely rich in wildlife. Spring and early summer floods are frequent: that of 1501 is one of the worst on record but those of 1838, 1876, 1954, 1965, 1999 and 2000 were also severe. There have been efforts since medieval times to regulate flooding and improve navigation. The Danube’s water is also used for irrigation, hydro-electric power, removing agricultural and industrial effluent and cooling nuclear power stations. In 1984 plans for a hydroelectric power dam in a wetland area near Vienna led to successful protests (Carter & Turnock. 1993, Fitzmaurice 1996).

Darby, Professor Sir Clifford (1909–92) British historical geographer whose most famous work involved recreating the landscape and environment of late C11 England by analysing and mapping data from the Domesday Book (1086). He also studied the evolution of the Fens and the deforestation of medieval Europe: as Professor of Geography at the University of Cambridge he was very influential; his former research students dominated British historical geography in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (Darby 1956a, 1956b, 1977).

Dartmoor Extensive moorland area and national park in SW England. Carefully planned and extensive Bronze Age field systems are still clearly visible (Fleming 1988). Dartmoor was occupied earlier in the Bronze Age, as cairns and stone rows demonstrate (Caseldine & Maguire 1986), but after c.1300BC, within a relatively short time large areas of the landscape were divided into a series of territories each of which included valley bottom land, valley slopes and higher moorland. The unenclosed moor was divided from the lower land by stone banks, locally called reaves, which may 130

Dartmoor | Darwin, Charles (1809–82)

originally have been topped by hedges. Other reaves subdivided the improved land into long, narrow strips, some of which may have been worked by family-sized groups. Some of the reave systems enclosed 1,000 ha and reave boundaries could be over 5 km long (Fleming 1988). The occurrence of lynchets and finds of cereal pollen from peat cores extracted from nearby bogs indicate that at least some cultivation took place in these elevated locations. Settlements, marked by circular stone hut foundations were scattered throughout the reave systems. All available dating evidence for these boundary systems suggests a Bronze Age origin. This landscape was only occupied for c.300 years and was abandoned by the early 1st millenium BC possibly due to a climatic downturn, over-exploitation of the soil, or a combination of both, causing an expansion of peat. Similar settlements and field systems on a smaller scale are known from Bodmin Moor. The Dartmoor reaves run down into the lowlands, fading out in areas which have been cultivated during medieval and later times, suggesting that they may originally have been a lowland system of land organization extended into the uplands (see co-axial field systems). Boundary systems which appear to be comparable to the Dartmoor reaves in both function and date occur as far north as Yorkshire (Barnatt 1999). Cultivation pushed back up on to Dartmoor again during medieval times with settlements like Hound Tor with its field systems being created in the C12–13 but abandoned in the C14 probably due to deteriorating environmental conditions and a population decline after the Black Death.

Darwin, Charles (1809–82) From a prosperous Shropshire family, Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh then divinity at Cambridge but also developed a passion for natural history. In 1831 he was proposed by John Henslow, professor of botany at Cambridge, for the post of naturalist on HMS Beagle on a surveying voyage to S America and the Pacific commanded by Captain Robert Fitzroy. From this five-year voyage came various detailed reports and books including The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs (1842) and his travel journal. His observations, especially in the Galapagos, on closely related species led to The Origin of Species (1859) which emphasized the close relationship between organisms and their habitats and created widespread controversy (Desmond & Moore 1992, Simmons 1996b).


dating methods

dating methods The problems of dating deposits and artefacts include establishing a secure geological or archaeological context, ensuring that the sample relates to that context, the avoidance of contamination which can give wildly inaccurate dates, and achieving suitable levels of precision. Dating methods can be divided into relative and absolute approaches:

absolute dating In the second half of the C20 a wide range of scientific techniques was developed which provided absolute dates. These included incremental techniques like dendrochronology, tephrochronology, as well as radiometric techniques (radiocarbon, oxygen isotope and Lead-210). Radiocarbon is the most widely used form of dating for deposits and artefacts within the Holocene. Potassium/argon dating, like radiocarbon, is based on the concept of radioactive decay, in this case of isotopes of potassium 40 into the inert gas argon 40 in volcanic rock, but is mainly applicable to sites buried by volcanic rock. Uranium series dating, which is based on the decay of isotopes of uranium to thorium and protactinium, is useful for dates ranging from 50,000–500,000 years, longer than radiocarbon, and has been used to date travertine in cave deposits. Trapped electron dating methods such as thermoluminescence are also based on radioactive decay but in this case the amount of radiation received rather than emitted is measured. Thermoluminesence can only be used to date minerals, especially in pottery. Palaeomagnetic dating is based on changes in the Earth’s magnetic field which are known from measurements for recent centuries but which can also be calculated for earlier periods from pottery, which takes on the magnetic direction and intensity of the earth’s magnetic field at the time it was fired.

relative dating Relative dating of deposits and archaeological finds was all that was available before the 1950s, apart from instances associated with highly specialized environmental conditions where deposits were laid down in annual layers, like varves. To geologists and archaeologists the law of superposition, which states that in undisturbed stratified deposits the oldest layers lie at the bottom and the youngest at the top of the sequence, has long been established as a governing principle. The thickness of deposits within such a sequence might provide some indication of how long they had taken to accumulate but absolute dates were not available. Collections 132

dating methods | DDT (Dichlorodiphenlytrichloroethane)

of artefacts: pottery, tools, weapons – were arranged in developmental sequences on the assumption that simpler, cruder forms were replaced by more complex ones but rates of change could not be determined and the idea that development was always a simple one-way process might not necessarily apply. Trying to piece together and match relative dating chronologies from different areas and, even more so, converting them to absolute dates was an archaeological minefield. Before the 1960s, archaeologists had built up complex sequences of phases for human cultural development in areas around the Mediterranean by starting off with the longest ‘absolute’ historical chronology available, the dynasties of ancient Egypt, which went back to c.3000BC. Artefacts imported into Egypt during particular reigns were dated by their occurrence with contemporary Egyptian objects. These dates were then transferred to the areas from which the goods had originated to date stratigraphical sequences there. This was difficult enough using pottery types, but was even more problematic when applied to architectural styles. Using this approach a date for the most spectacular phase of Stonehenge was worked out by relating the monument – with many intermediate stages – back to the Egyptian master chronology (Renfrew 1973). The problem with this approach was that mistakes and inaccuracies introduced at each stage tended to be cumulative with increasing distance from Egypt, making dates less and less reliable. The entire approach had the stability of a house of cards: remove any one suspect date and the whole structure came crashing down. The advent of radiocarbon dating demonstrated that Stonehenge was in fact older than the monuments in Iberia and the Mediterranean which had supposedly inspired it.

DDT (Dichlorodiphenlytrichloroethane) An organic pesticide first used in WW2 as a delousing agent. Developed as an insecticide in the 1960s especially to prevent the transmission of yellow fever, typhus and malaria by insects. It caused a major drop in bird numbers, especially birds of prey which were high in the food chain, due to its persistence in the environment and cumulative build-up which made eggshells weak and thin, liable to break under the weight of incubating parents. The environmental impacts of DDT were highlighted by Rachel Carson in her important book Silent Spring (1962). The use of DDT was banned for agricultural use in most countries after the 1970s.


Dead Sea | deer parks

Dead Sea 442 m below sea level, the lowest elevation on the earth’s surface, situated between Jordan, the West Bank and Israel and fed by the R Jordan. The sea, with no outlet, is hypersaline. Since the 1960s the inflow has been decreasing due to the abstraction of irrigation water and the surface of the sea has fallen from 395 m in 1970 to 418 m in 2006. The sea supports chemical plants, tourism and various therapy centres. There are plans to bring seawater to the Dead Sea from Aquaba on the Red Sea by 2017.

deciduous forests Temperate deciduous forests in mid-latitudes have been heavily cleared for agriculture and little virgin forest is left. The Appalachians and Poland may still contain some remnants of ancient forest. After the last glaciation forest areas expanded and moved polewards as temperatures rose but climate warmed faster than tree species could respond, leading to great instability of ecosystems in the first 2,000 years or so of the Holocene; different species of tree had different rates of dispersal. Rates of migration can be calculated from radiocarbon dates. In Europe opportunistic genera such as birch, pine, hazel and alder expanded 1–2 km a year for 500–2,000 years. In North America trees had maximum migration rates of 0.5 km a year. Early colonizers like birch were shaded out by the dense canopies of trees like elm. Barriers like the Alps and North Sea hindered migration of tree species in Europe (Roberts 1989). The wildwood (the climax woodland before significant human intervention) was a complex mosaic of different combinations of tree species depending on geology, soil, drainage and climate (Rackham 1986).

deer forests Areas of moorland in Scotland, usually with little woodland, managed solely or primarily for deer stalking. Huge areas of the Highlands were turned over to deer stalking in the mid- and later C19. The concept of the sporting estate hardly existed before the C19 but improved access to upland areas with better transport together with the development of breechloading rifles and shotguns encouraged them. By 1912 1.5 million ha of the Highlands were under deer forest (Smout 2000).

deer parks Relatively small enclosed areas set aside for the preservation and hunting of deer as distinct from much larger royal hunting forests and private 134

deer parks | deforestation

chases. In England the first deer park was recorded in 1045. By the C14 there were c.800 in England and Wales. They were often roughly circular or oval in shape and frequently stand out clearly on C16–17 county maps. They were surrounded with ditches and banks with paling fences, or stone walls. They might have one or more lodges at their gates. Small holly woods were sometimes maintained for winter fodder for the deer. Trees in deer parks were often pollarded. The parks were status symbols, expensive to maintain, and many were dis-parked after the Black Death and converted to farms. In the C18 many deer parks were incorporated into larger landscape parks (Cantor 1982, Liddiard 2003, 2007, Simmons 2001).

deforestation One of the most basic and widespread of process caused by human activity from early in the Holocene onwards, affecting all continents except Antarctica. Today most people live in areas which were once forested. Deforestation is caused by a range of activities, notably agriculture but also logging, game management, fire, metal smelting, shipbuilding, trade, war and simply an aversion to trees. Small-scale clearance of trees around settlements, generation by generation, mostly unrecorded, formed the background to human development in many areas with no one generation being aware of dramatic changes. Deforestation and its impacts were more evident where the effects were concentrated in time and space. Altering and clearing forests goes back to early hunter-gatherer societies. Deforestation has been the most important single factor in changing the environment, affecting a greater area of the earth’s surface than any other activity (Williams 2003). In W Europe the scale of Mesolithic deforestation was limited but the advent of agriculture led to small-scale, temporary clearances (landnam) where, after a few years of use, the land was left to revert to secondary woodland. By the later Neolithic woodland clearance had become more permanent and larger in scale. Once woodland was cleared the presence of grazing animals was often enough to prevent regeneration. This process continued through the Bronze and Iron Ages so that when Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans it ran through a mainly deforested landscape. The increasing pace of deforestation was accompanied by soil erosion in upland areas and deposition in the lowlands. It is hard to measure the scale and rate of deforestation even in modern times as it is a relative rather than an absolute concept. It is not a one-way process as forests can recover quickly from clearing (e.g. Mayan cities were quickly buried by tropical forests). Similarly in Europe with the fall in population 135


caused by the Black Death and in N America after the population cuts caused by the introduction of European diseases there was widespread woodland regeneration. The global extent of forests before the advent of agriculture has been estimated at 46 million km2 of closed-canopy woods and 15 million more open. Today this has been reduced by 8.0 and 7.4 million km2 respectively. Although an ancient phenomenon the scale of deforestation has increased dramatically in recent decades: a greater area has been cleared since 1950 than in all periods before it. Nevertheless, prehistoric societies everywhere made a much greater impact on forests than was once supposed. Impacts in the tropics may date from the very start of the Holocene. For Classical times the amount of deforestation around the Mediterranean has probably been exaggerated by contemporary accounts but overgrazing of former woodlands led to a transition to maquis and then garrigue vegetation (Davis 2005, Delano-Smith 1979). Soil erosion on sites of former Mediterranean woods led to massive deposition on the coasts and the spread of malaria by the C4BC. Particular periods have been characterized by phases of woodland clearance, notably on light loessic soils in Europe during the Neolithic and Bronze Age, more widely in Europe in the Iron Age and Roman periods, and in medieval Europe between the C11 and C14AD into lowland forests with the spread of the heavy plough and by the C13 on to poorer soils in areas like the Argonne, Lorraine, Vosges and Brittany. Deforestation was widespread in medieval Europe. Woodland clearance for arable and pasture due to population increase between the C11 and C14 led to deforestation over extensive areas of W and Central Europe, one of the most dramatic environmental changes anywhere in the world up to that time (Williams 2003). Deforestation was the central theme around which much other medieval activity revolved. In early medieval times (C7–9) massive woodland clearance occurred in the middle and lower Rhine, the Alpine foreland and the Ardennes. The great forest of the Odenwald between the Neckar and the Main was little cultivated pre AD800. Characteristic planned villages – waldhufendorfer – were laid out with long narrow strip fields extending back to the edge of the forests (Bloch 1970, Duby 1968). Between the Rhine and the Elbe colonization was promoted vigorously by lay and ecclesiastical lords. Uplands like the Harz, Eifel, Thuringian and Black Forests came to resemble wooded islands in a sea of cultivation (Darby 1956b) as fields and farms replaced forests. On an even larger scale was the great colonial surge into E Europe, a process which has been compared with the European settlement of N America before the C19. The first thrust down the Danube was virtually over by AD1150 (Williams 2003). The motives were religious as 136


well as economic with the spread of Christians E against the Slavs. Hundreds of towns and thousands of villages were laid out. Perhaps 200,000 settlers moved E in the C12. It has been estimated that the forests of France were reduced from c.30 million ha to 13 million c.AD 800–1300. Older interpretations of the evolution of the English landscape saw the Saxons as the pioneers of woodland clearance over much of the country (Hoskins 1955) but it is now clear that in areas like this the landscape was already an open, densely settled one, over 2,500 years before the Saxon settlement. In W Europe c.5% of the land was under cultivation in the C6AD, 30–40% by the early C14. Forests in France were reduced from 30–13 million ha between AD800 and 1300. In Germany and Central Europe c.70% of the land was forest in AD900, c.25% by 1900. In France half the woodlands were cut down between 1750 and 1860. In N America C17 European settlers encountered a forest which had been influenced by Indians but which was reverting to a denser forest due to the demographic catastrophe caused by the introduction of European diseases. Forests were considered to harbour disease, seen as dark and sinister, the abode of wild beasts and men, impersonal, lonely, endless (Thompson 1983). The clearing of the woods of E N America produced the largest transformation of forest landscapes since medieval Europe (Williams 2003). Old Indian fields were cleared first then the woods around them, by felling or ring barking followed by burning, leaving the stumps to rot and cultivating around them. Pioneers might clear up to 5–6 ha in their first year and around 15–18 ha was needed for a reasonable subsistence. In the C18 there was speculation about the effects of deforestation on local climates. In 1770 Hugh Williamson suggested that clearing forest made winters less harsh and summers cooler. In 1799 Noah Webster claimed that clearing exaggerated climatic extremes. Trends in China are less clear but there must have been massive deforestation here too. China is one of the world’s most forest-poor countries with 0.1 ha woodland per person (world average 1 ha). Forests cover only 16% of China (Japan 74%); a major cause of soil erosion and floods as well as droughts. (Williams 2003). In E Brazil half of the 780,000 km2 of subtropical Atlantic forest had gone by 1950. In the C20 there have been new demands for wood for pulp, paper, plywood and chipboard (Bechmann 1984, Darby 1956, French 1983, Meiggs 1982, Thirgood 1981). The late C18 and C19 saw the peak of deforestation in temperate areas with the settlement of N America, Australia and New Zealand as well as large-scale clearance in Russia and China. Tropical deforestation has often been exaggerated in popular descriptions due to a failure to appreciate the 137

deforestation | deltas

extent of pre-European forest clearance and a tendency to demonise the role of fire as an agent of environmental change (Williams 2003). Until the C20 deforestation affected temperate areas most markedly but since then the impact has shifted to the tropics and parts of the boreal forests such as N Canada. Nevertheless, loss of tropical rain forest since c.1950 has been dramatic in many areas. There has been particular concern over loss of biodiversity. Most of the nutrients of forest ecosystems are bound up in the vegetation. Remote sensing studies suggest that 11.3 million ha of tropical rain forest were lost 1981–90 and 8.6 million ha 1990–2000. There are problems of interpreting data collected from remote sensing: areas may still be recorded as forest but may have changed character markedly to secondary forest with reduced biodiversity. The forested area may not change but the environmental impact of the loss of the original climax forest may be very great.

deltas Landforms created by the deposition of sediments where a river flows into the sea or a lake; named after the mouth of the R Nile where the sediments and the distributaries depositing them have the triangular shape of the Greek letter delta. Deltas are high in biodiversity and are fertile from silt deposition though vulnerable to flooding. Deposition is enhanced by salt water which causes clay particles to flocculate, by shallow water which allows deltas to extend and by low-energy coasts limiting the erosion and longshore transport of sediments. Their rate of growth depends on sediment supply which can be increased by erosion in the upper parts of river basins. The Nile delta has only 2.5% of the area of Egypt, but onethird of the population, living at high density. Delta inhabitants are vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise. Deltas are important wetland habitats, like the Camargue. They are also attractive to agriculture because of their fertility and to industrial and port developments due to their flatness. In the near-tideless Mediterranean most deltaic sediments come from inland erosion via rivers rather than from coastal erosion. Historians have assumed that deltaic material represents soil eroded from river catchments. Delta fronts respond rapidly to a reduction in sediment supply from within their catchments but their advance in response to increased erosion further upstream is slower. Postglacial sea level rise created drowned coasts, while submerging existing river deltas over 100 m below sea level. Sedimentation would have occurred naturally without any human intervention. When 138

deltas | demographic transition model

delta deposits had accumulated to a level where they were once more close to the surface then their visible parts began to grow rapidly. The Ebro delta in Spain hardly existed in Roman times but underwent rapid expansion during the C16 and C17 at an annual rate of deposition over twice that of the early Holocene. By the C19 the rate of growth was slackening rather than increasing. There is no consistent evidence that delta expansion was due principally to human-induced environmental activity (Grove & Rackham 2001).

demesne Land within a manor or estate which was under the direct personal management of a feudal lord. Originally demesne arable was scattered through the open fields but in late medieval times it was often consolidated into large blocks. The area of demesne expanded and contracted with the availability of labour. When there was a labour surplus it made sense to have land in demesne, charge labour services as part of the rent and to expand the area in demesne. After the Black Death, when labour was scarce, many demesnes were leased out.

demographic transition model Initially developed to explain the changes in birth and death rates that occurred in W Europe from the C18. Each stage of the model is associated with particular environmental impacts. Stage 1. High stationary stage. Birth and death rates are high, death rates can fluctuate markedly from year to year as in pre-industrial Europe or subSaharan Africa today. In pre-industrial Europe population levels were generally low and pressures on the environment limited. In many modern African countries population levels are high and there is extreme pressure on the land leading to soil exhaustion, erosion and deforestation. Stage 2. Early expanding stage. Fertility remains high, death rates fall and population increases markedly as in England in the later C18 or currently in some African and Asian countries. Health care improves and agricultural technology boosts food supply but the expansion of population increases environmental pressure. Stage 3. Late expanding stage. Death rates are low, fertility declining but total population is still growing. At this stage the gap between births and deaths is greatest: Europe in the C19, some nations of Central America and SW Asia today.


demographic transition model | dendrochronology

Stage 4. Low stationary stage. Birth rates and death rates are both low, birth rate fluctuates: Chile, Argentina, China, S Korea today. Expanding industry and growing wealth and increasing consumption increase environmental pressures though mining, urbanization and the increased use of motor vehicles. Stage 5. Low birth and death rates. As in most of Europe and Japan today. There is more concern to protect the environment. It is often forgotten how time- and place-specific the original model was and there are doubts about how widely applicable it is.

dendrochronology Dendrochronology can identify periods when environmental conditions became worse or better and when marginal populations especially may have been affected by environmental change. Dendrochronological data from archaeological timber provides dates for when trees were felled. It also pinpoints periods of woodland regeneration, possibly indicating periods of reduced human pressure on the landscape. It is one of the most frequently used incremental dating techniques (Bradley 1985). Based on the annual rings which are created as trees grow, dendroclimatology was pioneered by A.E. Douglass in the early C20 in the SW USA. The rings represent the alternation of large, thin-walled cambium cells in spring and summer and more densely packed thick-walled cells later in the growing season. In tropical climates the lack of seasonality may mean that clear annual rings do not form. Wide rings indicate favourable environmental conditions for growth, narrow rings adverse ones. The age of living trees can be established by using a coring implement and counting the number of rings outwards from the centre. Variations in the width of rings also preserve a signal of past short-term environmental fluctuations. Depending on the environment groups of narrow rings may indicate colder phases, e.g. in the Alps or Scandinavia, or drought, as in the SW USA. Such variations not only record past climatic fluctuations; they also allow dead wood preserved in structures or in peat bogs to be dated by matching patterns where they overlap with those from dated living trees, using computer programs to identify the best fits. The technique was first applied to the very long-lived Bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) in the arid SW USA but it has since been used for a range of tree species in many other environments (Fritts 1976, Fritts et al. 1981, Bradley and Jones 1992). Trees growing near the limits of their species provide better records than those in more favourable locations as they are more sensitive to climatic fluctuations. Data from 140

dendrochronology | deserted medieval villages (DMVs)

moisture-sensitive trees has allowed the reconstruction of past streamflows, e.g. the upper Colorado and South Platte basins (Woodhouse & Lukas 2006), and past crop yields for periods before harvest and price data (Therrell 2006). This technique allows chronologies covering several thousands of years to be constructed. One derived from oak trees growing in Irish peat bogs has been pushed back to 5479BC and a chronology from southern Germany beyond 10000BC. Shorter ones exist for Scotland, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland. Ring patterns can also be compared between samples from different sites and regions allowing the geographical extent of environmental changes at particular periods to be established. Oak trees have been most commonly used for dendrochronology in Europe, being long lived, with some surviving English trees dating back to the early C15AD but in central and N Europe chronologies based on conifers have also been developed. Assigning precise dates for certain kinds of environmental changes nevertheless needs careful interpretation (Baillie 1995). Samples with only limited numbers of rings may not have a unique match and may produce more than one possible date. The nature of the environmental change and a tree’s response to it will vary with its local setting. A tree growing on the edge of a peat bog is likely to respond in a different way to environmental change, or at least to a different degree, to a tree a short distance away on a well-drained soil. Often the nature of the environmental change producing groups of wider or narrow tree rings is assumed rather than demonstrated. There are also problems in deciding on the scale of the factors affecting growth, whether purely local, such as changes in drainage, or more widespread (Baillie 1999, 2004, Briffa & Osborn 1999, Cook et al. 1991).

dengue fever A viral haemorrhagic fever in tropical and subtropical areas of S and Cental America, SE Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and NE Australia. Transmitted by mosquitoes it was first described in 1779 and has become a global problem since WW2. Its incidence has increased dramatically since the 1960s. c.50– 100 million people are affected every year and there is, as yet, no vaccine. Mortality is 1–5% of those affected, without treatment, and c.1% with treatment.

deserted medieval villages (DMVs) Abandoned settlements can be identified across the whole of the Holocene and in most parts of the world. However, particular concentrations in 141

deserted medieval villages (DMVs) | desertification

specific areas at certain periods have the ability to grip the imagination, as with DMVs. The idea that DMV sites existed in substantial numbers in England was developed by Professor M. Beresford (1954). He and his coworkers found many earthwork sites of DMVs in a belt of country from S Central England through the Midlands to the NE. Beresford and Hurst began excavations in the 1950s at a DMV site at Wharram Percy in the Yorkshire Wolds which, continued for over 30 years, provided many insights into settlement continuity and change and the design of late medieval peasant houses. Other important excavations included Hound Tor, Dartmoor, Goltho in Lincolnshire and West Whelpington, Northumberland. Goltho was sited on low-lying clays, the cultivation of which might only have been feasible for the first time during the medieval climatic optimum. The settlement contained peasant houses which in the C13 required no special measures for drainage, but whose replacements in the C14 did, suggesting a shift to wetter conditions and more extended periods of soil waterlogging, leading in turn to desertion in the later C14 (Beresford 1981). Other types of site, such as shrunken villages surrounded by more extensive earthworks marking former houses, have also been identified. Reasons for desertion were seen to relate to demographic, social and economic changes in the centuries following the Black Death. Few settlements were deserted as a direct result of the plague but many marginal sites may have had their populations reduced below the threshold of longterm viability. At some coastal sites marine erosion or silting caused desertion. In low-lying or upland sites environmental changes such as increased soil waterlogging or climatic deterioration during the early phases of the Little Ice Age have been invoked to explain desertion. Sites may be visible as earthworks, crop marks or may be identified from fieldwalking. The approaches developed by Beresford and others in England have been applied elsewhere in the British Isles and in Europe. The discovery of thousands more deserted village sites in England abandoned at various times between the C14 and the C17, and occurring over most parts of England, indicates a range of causes for desertion (Muir 1982) including C15 and C16 enclosure with the conversion of arable to sheep pasture requiring less labour and villages moved to new sites to allow the creation or expansion of landscape parks in the C18 and early C19.

desertification The term was first used in 1949 to explain environmental deterioration in tropical Africa. It was defined by the UN Environment Programme in 1992 142


as ‘land degradation in arid and semi-arid areas and dry sub-humid-areas caused by adverse human impact’. Desertification is an emotive term which came into widespread use in the 1970s, linked to severe drought in the W African Sahel and early satellite imagery. It involves natural as well as human processes and may be considered as the expansion of desert-like conditions and landscapes into areas where they should not occur climatically. The processes involved include the removal of vegetation, soil erosion, excessive use of water, poor land management, overgrazing, clearing and burning vegetation to make way for agriculture and collecting wood for fuel and charcoal making. Its causes include population growth and the conversion of nomadic pastoral societies to sedentary lifestyles with a focus on raising cash crops rather than subsistence ones. Desertification is shown by changes in vegetation cover, soil loss and drastic cuts in carrying capacity. However, despite confident statements to the contrary, measuring the encroachment of desert conditions is imprecise and difficult, while the roles of people and climatic change in the process are hotly debated. Lack of scientific rigour in the 1970s resulted in misleading perceptions. In fact there was probably no systematic ‘march of the desert’. It has been suggested that desertification is a self-sustaining process with the change from a vegetated to a bare surface increasing albedo (see ice-albedo feedback mechanism) and reducing rainfall but not all scientists have been convinced (Biswas 1980, Charney 1975). Although its extent and severity is hard to measure, desertification is seen as a major problem on every inhabited continent though difficulties in distinguishing human from natural impacts remain. The most extreme form of soil erosion involve the spread of desert conditions into semi-arid areas due to natural drought or interrelated natural and human processes producing impoverishment of vegetation and degradation of soils. Seasonal rainfall and fragile ecosystems create environments which can be damaged by population pressure, unsuitable technology, over-cultivation, irrigation, poor land use or grazing practices, or fuelwood collection. Desertification is a major global environmental issue but it is not always easy to identify. It can be caused by climatic shifts but natural influences are usually exacerbated by human activities. Some writers have seen it as a major global problem affecting around one-third of the planet’s land area while others have considered is merely the product of short-term changes. In 2001 it was claimed to threaten over 1 billion people in more than 110 countries. Areas prone to desertification cover c.40% of the land surface and affect c.20% of its population. Africa is the worst affected continent. The limits of desertification can respond quickly to climatic 143

desertification | desktop study

changes. Remote sensing shows that the southern boundary of the Sahara can shift by 200 km within a year. The UN claims that desertification is happening faster than at any time in history, affecting 70% of the world’s dry lands. c.6.7 million km2 is thought to be threatened by severe to moderate desertification (Thomas 1993, United Nations Environmental Programme 1992b). (See Great Plains.)

deserts Regions where rainfall is too low and irregular and evaporation too great to allow much life to survive, with annual precipitation of under 25 mm, accounting for c.20% of the earth’s land surface. Divided into hot and cold. Hot deserts lie between 15– and 30– N and S in areas dominated by atmospheric high pressure and dry descending air, in continental interiors or on coasts with offshore prevailing winds. Such areas have hot summers with mean temperatures of 30–40– C and wide diurnal ranges of temperature. Rainfall is often unreliable, frequently occurring in limited periods of time in localized convectional storms. Evidence of former wetter conditions in deserts is widespread: in the heart of the Sahara cave paintings by hunters and pastoralists and remains of former lakes and river systems occur. Equally there is evidence that some deserts were once much larger than today with fossil dunes in sub-Saharan Africa buried by tropical rain forests. It is not clear to what extent Neolithic overgrazing by herds of cattle, sheep and goats accelerated desertification here, especially in the drier second half of the Holocene. Today active sand dunes cover c.10% of the area 30– N to S but 18,000 years ago this figure was 50% in two vast belts. In Rajasthan and Gujarat (N India) and in Pakistan they occurred in areas where rainfall now averages c.900 mm a year. A huge zone occurs in SW Africa in Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia as far as the Congo rain forest N of the equator fossil dunes extend into savanna and forest zones of W Africa where rain now exceeds 1000 mm/year. In S America they are found in the Orinoco basin and in Bahia state, Brazil and are widespread in W and Central Australia (Gaylord 1990, Goudie et al. 1973, Holliday 1989, Lancaster 1969, Nasrallah & Balling 1993, Nichol 1991, Reynolds & Stafford Smith 2002, Singh 1971, Thomas & Shaw 1991.

desktop study A survey based on existing published records in offices, libraries and archives, using secondary rather than primary sources, a quicker, cheaper 144

desktop study | diaries

but less complete process. This formed the basis of most English county historical landscape characterization mapping programmes.

Devensian The last glaciation (c.70–10000BP), known as the Wisconsinan in the USA.

diamond mining On a commercial scale concentrated mainly in Australia, Russia and S Africa but also in Angola, Tanzania, Zaire, Sri Lanka and Canada. Informal small-scale working for alluvial diamonds is more widespread. Like any other deep pit mining a large amount of waste is created which may, or may not, be returned to the original hole from which it came. There are also problems of damage to water quality. In NW Territories, Canada, mining has affected water quality 200 km downstream. Diamond companies are now more agreeable to managing their operations to reduce environmental impact but there may be significant differences between their publicity and what actually happens on the ground. Diamonds mined in war zones, mainly in Africa, and sold to finance civil wars, rebellions or the activities of warlords are known as Blood or Conflict diamonds.

Diamond, Professor Jared (1937–) Professor of Geography at University of California, Los Angeles and environmental historian. Author of several award-winning books including Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (2005) which received worldwide acclaim for its breadth of ideas and chronological sweep.

diaries Diaries kept by keen observers of the environment may provide a wealth of detail about past locales and the people who inhabited them, especially the day-to-day routines of life and work, though they are likely to contain biases due to the social class and status of the authors. Diaries may preserve detailed eyewitness accounts of environmental disasters, such as Pliny’s description of the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79 and Pepys’ account of the Great Fire of London in 1666. Travel diaries, kept by people journeying in new surroundings, are also valuable though it may not be easy to distinguish reality from preconceptions and biases.


diatoms | diseases

diatoms Microscopic unicellular algae with walls of silica not cellulose which preserve well like pollen and which can be distinguished and counted. Variations in diatom assemblages can identify habitat changes such as water salinity, alkalinity and nutrient status, lake and sea-level fluctuations and the impact of human activities on aquatic ecosystems. Like pollen grains, diatoms have hard shells which resist decay and which can be differentiated to species level under the microscope. The assemblage of diatom species at a particular site is influenced by factors such as the acidity and temperature of the water and especially its salinity. They provide evidence of changing lake and sea levels and, in the case of enclosed lake basins in semi-arid areas, they highlight climatic change such as the marked warming trend in the Arctic from the mid-C19 (Douglas et al. 1994, Overpeck et al. 1997, Stoermer & Smol 1999).

discharge The volume of water in a river passing through a specific cross section during a given period, usually measured in m3 per second. Discharge can vary greatly between seasons. Peak discharges or floods can be established from flow gauges or, more approximately, from historic records of flood levels such as marks cut on bridges and buildings.

diseases It is not always possible to identify the diseases which occurred in the past because they can change as bacteria and viruses mutate into different forms. So ‘sweating sickness’ which affected England in the later C15 and early C16 and vanished thereafter cannot be securely identified as any modern disease. In addition descriptions of symptoms in historical records are often poor and ambiguous (Braudel 1981). Diseases have affected human society directly as epidemics, endemic diseases, and low-level diseases and poor health linked to inadequate diet as well as indirectly through plant and animal diseases. Over time increasing contacts between different regions and continents changed patterns of diseases. The development of agriculture and settlement led to new human diseases, particularly ones which affected animals and became adapted to humans, such as smallpox, tuberculosis, measles, influenza and leprosy. The lack of domestic animals in the Americas helps to explain the vulnerability of their human populations to disease such as smallpox and measles following European 146

diseases | diseases, human

contact. Other diseases occurred due to increasingly large concentrations of population, particularly as a result of mixing water and human waste, e.g. cholera and dysentery. Infectious diseases which were not transmitted by water, such as measles and smallpox, require minimum concentrations of human population to survive and were especially associated with cities. Agricultural practices such as irrigation spread parasites in areas like Mesopotamia and Egypt while swidden cultivation could increase numbers of malarial mosquitoes (Mitman 2005).

diseases, animals Many human diseases derive from animal infections. Smallpox was related to bovine pox, measles to rinderpest, tuberculosis in humans to bovine TB and influenza to diseases in pigs and birds. Disease could spread by providing inadvertent aid to rodents by killing their predators. The prevalence of influenza epidemics and pandemics in recent centuries has been due to close contact with ducks and pigs. Most influenza epidemics seem to have originated in China with avian and human influenza viruses exchanging genes and producing new virulent strains causing pandemics. Some livestock diseases can be economically disastrous even if they do not infect humans directly. Cattle ‘murrain’ in medieval and earlymodern Europe may often have been outbreaks of rinderpest. There is little evidence that foot and mouth disease represents a serious threat to human health but its economic threat has led to mass cullings as in Britain in 2001. The sudden reduction of grazing levels in parts of the Lake District after 2001 caused fears that absence of sheep would lead to invasion of scrub on valley sides within a few years. ‘Mad cow disease’ or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the USA and Britain led to Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome in humans. It was transmitted to animals by their consumption of material from brains and spinal cords of other slaughtered animals because slaughterhouses used the waste after butchering to add to cattle feed, and was passed to humans by the consumption of the affected body parts, e.g. in low-grade beefburgers (Diamond 1997, Ewald 1994).

diseases, human Before the development of agriculture and sedentary settlement humans suffered less from disease, especially epidemics, although they were affected more by trauma as the result of accidents and by parasites. Infections were particularly those causing bone and dental disease. The infectious diseases 147

diseases, human

which had the greatest effects in later times are thought to have originated mainly in SE Asia and Africa. The development and diffusion of agriculture with larger, sedentary communities, and the spread of irrigation providing new breeding grounds for disease organisms were major causes for the increasing variety of diseases to which people were prone. Towns were even greater foci for disease while the development of trading links spread diseases from one area to another. The impact of diseases varied with social factors: starvation and malnutrition weakened people’s resistance. Europe’s gifts to the New World included smallpox, measles, mumps, influenza, bubonic plague, typhus, diphtheria, scarlet fever, cholera, malaria and whooping cough. It has been estimated that European expansion and colonization spread diseases which killed c.56 million people worldwide (McNeill 1998, 1999). The movement of armies spread diseases: typhus helped defeat Napoleon’s army in Russia in 1812. Disease slowed European expansion in Africa. The opening up of trade in Asia during Mongol rule may have spread bubonic plague along the caravan routes from China in 1331 to the Crimea in 1346. In 1348–9 around one-third of the population of Europe died from the disease, which had a mortality level of c.90%. The last outbreak in W Europe was in 1720–1 at Marseilles but it remained endemic in E Europe and the Near E until later (Kiple 1993, Verano & Ubelaker 1992). In the Americas smallpox reached Hispaniola in 1518, Mexico in 1520 and Peru in 1526. Measles, typhus and influenza spread through the Americas in the same period. Malaria was introduced by slaves in the late C16 or early C17, yellow fever in 1648. In the opposite direction syphilis may have reached Europe from the Americas at the end of the C15. Typhus was brought into W Europe from Cyprus by Spanish troops c.1490. The global distribution of diseases was altered by the slave trade pre-1850, then by the increasingly global movement of labour caused by industrial and agricultural development. Migrants brought diseases with them but also had to face new ones. In the Crimean War ten times as many British soldiers died from dysentery as from enemy action. In the Boer War the proportion was still 5:1. The role of lice in spreading typhus was identified as late as 1910 just in time to reduce casualties from illness during WW1. Cholera, transmitted via water contaminated by human waste, spread from Russia in 1826 to the Baltic by 1831 and then to cities and towns in W Europe and the USA. The impact of smallpox began to be reduced in Britain by inoculation from 1721 and vaccination from the 1790s but medical 148

diseases, human

intervention had much less effect in reducing mortality than better diet and environmental conditions. From the later C19 the methods of transmission of malaria, yellow fever and other diseases began to be understood. Medical advances made tropical Africa and Asia much safer for Europeans after c.1890 though reducing disease among local people received a lower priority. After 1940, when penicillin was first produced on a commercial scale, antibiotics became available. These provided no protection against viruses but vaccines, derived from the old practice of inoculation against diseases like smallpox, did. A vaccine for typhoid was developed in 1897, one for tuberculosis in 1921, tetanus in the 1930s, diphtheria in 1923, yellow fever in 1937, influenza in 1954, polio in 1954 and measles in 1962. As a result death by infectious diseases declined markedly in W countries to be replaced by non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart disease. However, microbial resistance to penicillin was evident from 1946. From 1970 bacteria with multiple drug resistance emerged. Incurable strains of tuberculosis first appeared in S Africa in 1977 and by 1985 caused the first increase in tuberculosis cases since the mid-C19. In the USA in the 1990s it killed c.70% of those who contracted it. The emergence of HIV, which affected immune systems, also caused a rise in tuberculosis cases. Malaria was at first drastically cut by the use of DDT but DDT-resistant mosquitoes soon developed. In the 1990s malaria killed c.2 million a year globally, around half of these in Africa. In many countries in the late C20 a decline in the quality of public health services worsened conditions, as with the USSR from c.1970, as vaccination programmes lapsed and trust in medical facilities decreased. In some areas the increase in irrigated land encouraged vectors of disease such as snails and mosquitoes. Faster transport also spread disease. A more efficient malarial mosquito was spread from W Africa to Brazil in 1930 by aeroplane, causing 20,000 deaths. Troop movements at the end of WW1 made the 1918–19 influenza epidemic a pandemic which killed as many as 50 million. In the tropics where traditional population densities were low, severe diseases to which local people had immunity helped keep outsiders away. In the late C19 more tropical areas were opened up and drawn into the world economy causing the spread of once local diseases. Trypanosomasis or sleeping sickness was spread by modifications of society imposed by German colonial rule in what is now Tanzania. Spread by the tsetse fly it moved into new areas. An epidemic killed 250,000 in Uganda in 1900–5 and was a major cause of the general population decline in central Africa between the 149

diseases, human | documentary sources for environmental change

1880s and the 1920s. The disruption of tropical ecosystems spread Dengue fever from SE Asia from the 1940s, Lassa fever from Nigeria in 1969 and Ebola from Zaire in 1986. AIDS originated c.1959 but spread fast from the late 1970s, killing 2.3 million people globally in 1997 – 14 million in 1978–98. It developed and spread due to human activity in tropical forests (McNeill 2000). Global warming since the 1980s has started to extend the range of mosquitoes and other disease vectors.

diseases, plants Can cause massive damage to crops (one estimate is that 20% of world crops are lost annually to disease). The prehistoric Elm Decline has been attributed to fungal disease. C17 farmers noted that wheat rust flourished where barberry (Berberis vulgaris) was found and removed it from hedgerows. It was later discovered that rust has a complex life cycle part linked to barberry and part to wheat. In 1755 a law was passed in Massachusetts to remove barberry bushes; a similar one was passed later in France. In 1751 Linneus categorised plant diseases as mildew, rust, smut, ergot and insect damage. Potato blight in 1846 caused the death of over 1 million people in Ireland. Use of chemicals to control plant diseases began in the C17 with salt water used for steeping wheat seed to prevent infection. Copper sulphate and lime were later used to protect grapes in France (Ingram, D. and Robertson, M. (1990)). Outbreak of a more virulent strain of Dutch elm disease in W Europe from 1967 killed over 25 million trees in Britain alone, causing marked changes in the landscape.

Dissolution of the Monasteries 1536–41 Henry VIII’s seizure of the lands and property of 825 religious communities in England, Wales and Ireland involved c.8,100 km2 of land, about 16% of the area of England, in towns as well as the countryside. The social impact of a transformation of landownership on such a scale was profound, particularly the rise of the gentry class. In purely practical terms the abandoned religious houses provided quarries of stone from which many Tudor manor houses and mansions were built.

documentary sources for environmental change The use of a wide variety of proxy data derived from historical sources can provide information on environmental conditions and changes in earlier centuries. Early instrumental weather records go back to the C17 (see 150

documentary sources for environmental change | Doggerland

Central England Temperature Series). A range of sources from diaries and chronicles to newspapers provides information on climatic extremes and their effects such as floods. Such information must always be treated with caution, however, and assessed for possible biases, omissions and exaggerations. Widell (2007) has shown how early chronicles can provide evidence of climatic instability and environmental catastrophes in the Middle E. The diary of Martinus Crusius (1526–1607), a German humanist ¨ bingen, recorded day-to-day weather, weather extremes, vine from Tu harvest dates, snow and snow cover (Telelis 1998). Chenoweth (2006) has used newspaper accounts, weather diaries and ships’ logbooks to establish a chronology of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin back to AD1700. Endfield & Tejedo (2006) have used archival sources to examine social and economic impacts of drought in NW Mexico (Brandon 1971, Garcia-Herrera et al. 2005, Menuge 2002, Ogilvie & Farmer 1997, Pfister 1992, Wheeler 2005, Wilkinson 2005).

dodo A flightless bird (Raphus cucullatus) related to pigeons, weighing 12–18 kg and laying only a single egg. Inhabiting the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean the dodo was first sighted by Portuguese sailors in the early C16 and was extinct by 1681. The main causes of extinction seem to have been less the killing of the birds for food than the destruction of their forest habitat for sugar cane growing and the import of animals – goats, pigs, cats, rats – which destroyed their nests.

Doggerland Name given to the area below the S North Sea. It has been known since at least the 1930s that prehistoric artefacts and freshwater peat survive on the seabed of this area. Coastlines for c.10000BP have been sketched in between Jutland and the Humber with a line of hills whose summits now form the Dogger Bank occupied by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. By 7500BP sea level rise had turned them into Dogger Island as the sea broke through from the English Channel to the N Sea. In the process of study a new subdiscipline – submarine landscape archaeology – has been created. From material brought up by trawlers a good picture of the late-glacial fauna has been established. The Dover Straits were submerged around 7000BP (Coles 1998, Flemming 2004, Murphy 2007).


Domesday Book | drainage: agricultural land

Domesday Book Produced in 1086 for William I of England, the result of condensing data collected by commissioners on a series of circuits through the shires of Norman England. Domesday Book lists data on taxable resources and in the process the environment of late C11 England. Although omitting Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland and most of Westmorland and having less detailed coverage for the N of England than the S, it provides a wealth of data which can be mapped and assessed, such as the extent of woodland and arable and the distribution of settlement and population. As a result more is known about the landscape and environment of England at this time than any other part of the world. The detailed study of the geography of Domesday England, based on the mapping of data from Domesday Book, was the focus of the work of Professor Sir Clifford Darby (Darby 1977).

domestication Implies that humans have altered the genetic character of a plant or animal species to make them more suitable for their use. This is usually identifiable from the bones of animals or macrofossils of plants.

Dorset culture Developed c.500BC in the E Arctic at a time when climatic conditions were becoming colder; many organic objects from this culture have been preserved in permafrost. The pre-Dorset people were mainly caribou hunters but the Dorsets were, above all, seal hunters though they also hunted caribou, walrus and polar bears. They built rectangular semisubterranean houses but did not use dog sleds or bows and arrows and did not hunt whales (Fagan 1991).

Douglass, Andrew (1867–1962) Astronomer at University of Arizona, Tucson. Pioneer from 1901 of dendrochronology in SW USA, dating ancient pueblos from annual rings in their timbers. Author of Climatic Cycles and Tree Growth (3 vols 1919–36).

drainage: agricultural land Early agriculture opted for free-draining soils as with Neolithic farming in W and Central Europe. The development of the heavy plough cutting


drainage: agricultural land | droughts

deeper into the soil and turning a furrow slice, allowed cultivation of heavy, less well-drained clays. From medieval times to the C19 in Europe such soils were drained by ploughing the soil into ridge and furrow; water drained from the ridges into the furrows and then down the furrows to larger drains. In the early C19 more systematic drainage was practised in Britain, particularly after the development of a subsoil plough to break up hard pans. Cheap horseshoe-shaped drainage pipes were introduced at the same time. In 1845 Thomas Scragg invented a pipe-making machine which turned out mass-produced cheap, cylindrical pipes and caused an environmental revolution. During the C19 over 5 million ha of land in the English lowlands was drained, with the peak being 1840–75 (Smout 2000). Britain has one of the highest proportions of its agricultural land underdrained but Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland also have high percentages (Goudie 1992, Phillips 1989).

droughts Long periods of time with little or no precipitation. Droughts are normal events which occur in most climatic regimes. Droughts may be permanent in arid areas where society is adjusted to lack of rainfall, exploiting groundwater, using desalinization, abstracting water from rivers in areas with more precipitation. Seasonal droughts occur on the margins of arid areas, contingent ones when rainfall is lower than average in an area where it is normally high. Hydrological droughts involve the effects of lack of precipitation on streamflow, lake levels and water supply, affecting agriculture, navigation and HEP generation. Agricultural droughts occur where rainfall seems adequate for agriculture but high evaporation reduces crop yields. Some past societies have been undermined by drought and its impact on crops, livestock and humans. The Maya, Anasazi of Mesa Verde and Bronze Age Mycenae have all been identified as having possibly been destabilised by drought. Drought has been a major cause of famine, wars and fire hazards. The removal of vegetation can increase susceptibility to drought. In the Sahel 1968–74, millions of animals and over 100,000 people died of starvation as a result of drought caused partly by the effect of vegetation removal by a growing population. Droughts in Africa are often the result of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ICTZ) moving insufficiently far from the Equator. In the Pacific El ˜ o events can bring extreme droughts to E Australia. Early impressions Nin of semi-arid areas by incoming European settlers often underestimated the 153

droughts | drystone walls

scale of the drought threat, as with the Dust Bowl on the American Great Plains.

droving of livestock Moving domesticated livestock on the hoof usually over greater distances than those involved in seasonal transhumance, often from upland to lowland areas, in order to market them. In Europe droving existed in medieval times and may have had prehistoric origins. Some 400,000 cattle a year were being moved from E to Central Europe by AD1600, as well as movement of animals S from Denmark and from the Alps to both N and S. In Britain by the C17 and C18 cattle and other livestock were being driven from Wales, N England, Scotland and Ireland to industrial towns and London. The animals often used special drove roads bounded by walls to prevent them from straying, keeping to the uplands as far as possible for ease of movement. Droves might halt at overnight stances, often with inns, some of which still survive. Large cattle fairs allowed animals to be sold to lowland buyers. Lean hill animals were bought for fattening on lowland pastures. Pressure from droving caused overgrazing on commons in N England encouraging parliamentary enclosure. Droving was killed off by the spread of railways in the mid-C19. Cattle drives in the American W in the late C19 from Texas to the railheads in the Mid-West were similar in character (see transhumance).

drystone walls Boundaries constructed of stone without any mortar. They occur widely in different cultures and the style of construction is often a product of their function and age as well as local geology. They were used as field boundaries in W Ireland as early as the Neolithic. Many upland areas in Britain have regular systems of parallel stone walls dating from the Bronze Age (see Dartmoor, reaves). Early walls may be massively built when they were associated with stone clearance to facilitate cultivation, as in the Lake District (Edmonds 2004). Walls of upright stone orthostats are associated with some medieval monastic granges (Hodges 1991). In the Yorkshire Dales walls of massive construction with overhanging capstones were built in late medieval times, possibly to protect livestock from predators (Lord 2004). Later walls from the C18 and C19 of the parliamentary enclosure era were slimmer with tapering sides designed to reduce construction costs.


Durand, Asher (1796–1886) | Dust Bowl

Durand, Asher (1796–1886) American landscape artist and leading member of the Hudson River School. His Kindred Spirits (1845) depicted artist Thomas Cole and poet W.C. Bryant in a romantic forested landscape in the Hudson Valley. He was also famous for his scenes in the Catskill and White Mts.

Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl has been identified by George Borgstrom (1973) as one of the three worst ecological blunders in human history. In the USA between the Mississippi and the Rockies lie the prairies of the Great Plains, a vegetation type resulting from a lack of precipitation but whose boundaries with the E forests seem to have been at least partly culturally determined by the use of fire. The Great Plains contain some of the best arable land in the USA, fertile, flat and, for part of their area at least, with adequate rainfall in most years. But the higher areas, in the rain shadow of the Rockies, are drier with prospects for arable farming less certain. Significant short-term fluctuations in precipitation are the rule rather than the exception. A failure to recognize the semi-arid nature of the climate lies at the root of the environmental problems experienced in this area in the last 130 years. The area has been perceived in markedly different ways over the last two centuries and W society has not fully adapted to the harshness of the environment. The environmental history of the Great Plains is as much the product of perceptions and attitudes as physical changes. Since the start of European settlement in the later C19 droughts have occurred every 22 years or so. Severe drought was more frequent and persistent before AD1200 than later (Laird et al. 1996). After AD1200 climate shifted abruptly into the modern mode which is relatively wet by comparison (Schubert et al. 2004). But within this wetter regime, major droughts have still occurred: a particularly severe one in the American SW between AD1276 and 1299 forced the Anasazi people to abandon their cliff settlements in Chaco Canyon. In the early C19 the Great Plains were an area which European settlers crossed to reach the W coast, rather than an objective in itself. Early explorers like Lewis and Clark, who may have penetrated the region during a particularly dry phase, described it as the ‘Great American Desert’, an off-putting name which decorated maps of the USA for many decades. ‘Great Plains’ began to be used more widely after the Civil War, particularly in promotional material circulated by railway companies keen to boost traffic by bringing in settlers. There was a widespread belief among 155

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professionals as well as farmers that ‘rain follows the plough’; that ploughing and cultivating the prairie soils would make the climate moister (Bowden 1976). Settlement of the prairies began in the late C19. Under the Homestead Act 1862 a farmer had to live on his 160-acre (64 ha) claim and cultivate it for five years before he could claim title to it. The E margins of the grasslands in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota were settled down to c.1870 by Yankees from the NE with a tradition of wheat farming then, after 1870, by people from Norway and Germany. In the late C19 the N part of the Plains was occupied by German-speaking Russian immigrants with experience of the steppes of S Russia and a tradition of building sod houses by cutting the tough prairie turf in blocks. Mennonite immigrants from the Ukraine introduced hard winter wheat, a strain better suited to the Great Plains environment than varieties previously in use. Initially the Plains were used for open range ranching; between 1867 and 1885, while the frontier of arable farming paused at the margins of the Plains, the legendary cattle drives from Texas to railheads in Kansas occurred. In some areas ranchers grazed four times as many cattle as the grasslands could support, leading to lasting damage to vegetation and soils. Overgrazing and the bad winter of 1887–8 led to a collapse in ranching and the farmers moved in. As settlement pushed W there was little attempt to alter the scale or nature of enterprises to suit more marginal conditions. Ranches were still split into standard 160-acre (64 ha) farm units even where larger units, worked less intensively, would have been more suitable. The first wave of Plains settlement peaked in the mid-1870s before the onset of drier conditions in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Between 1881 and 1904, out of 24 years 15 had below-average rainfall. The drought was not accompanied by large-scale wind erosion, as in the 1930s, because much of the area was still unploughed. With limited reserves and no federal or state assistance many settlers fared badly; some died of starvation, others gave up farming. Some counties lost 30, 60 or even 90% of their population. The early C20 brought above-average rainfall and another speculative boom. Any lessons from the 1890s were rapidly forgotten. Historians of the American frontier had emphasized the ability of settlers to conquer the environment. The idea of nature placing restraints on what humans could do was not entertained. The crop failures of the 1890s began to be blamed not on drought but on the inadequacy of the farmers. High wheat prices during and after WW1, accompanied by favourable rainfall, led to the ploughing up of the prairies on an unprecedented scale. In 1919 wheat prices were 2.5 times those of 1914. A depression in the cattle 156

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market made many ranchers sell their land to speculators who paid $3–4 per acre for it and re-sold it to eastern farmers for $30–40. The record harvest of 1926 allowed many farmers to buy tractors and put millions more hectares under the plough. As the area under wheat increased the remaining pastures were badly damaged by overgrazing. Tractors and combine harvesters reduced farmers’ labour inputs and costs but to make the machinery pay they had to become commercial wheat producers, running highly mechanized factory farms, abandoning the more diversified, flexible systems their fathers had used. The recovery of European farming after WW1 reduced demand for American wheat and cut prices. Faced with growing financial pressure, Plains farmers responded in the only way open to them, by cultivating even more land. Then came disaster. 1931 produced a bumper crop but drier conditions began to shift W to the Great Plains, affecting N and S Dakota and much of Montana. 1932 was drier, 1933 was worse and in 1934–6 drought was severe, affecting 19 states. The worst area, the classic Dust Bowl, covered nearly 40 million ha, one-third of the Great Plains. A dust storm in May 1934 dropped a layer of Great Plains soil 2,400 km away in Washington, DC. Winds carried 350 million t of topsoil out of the region. When the dust storms abated they left an epidemic of respiratory infections. Drifting topsoil formed dunes and exposed an infertile, hard subsoil. The threat of widespread malnutrition led to government aid. In the worst year, 1936, 21% of all rural families on the Great Plains were receiving relief, a figure which rose to 90% in the worst-affected counties. By 1936 over 2 million farmers were receiving relief. Over 3.5 million people gave up farming and left the area, loading their possessions on to trucks and, abandoning their farms, slipping away to avoid creditors, many heading W, an exodus memorably described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath (1939) (Yancey 2004). Farmers were trying to impose on the Great Plains an agricultural system which ignored environmental constraints under a climate where annual rainfall fluctuated wildly around an average which itself was barely adequate to give good crops. Attitudes and values were as much a cause of the Dust Bowl as the environment. Gradually, as a result of the disaster, ideas began to change. The Great Plains Committee, established in 1936, made considerable efforts to alter the mindsets of farmers. A range of soil and moisture conservation measures such as deep ploughing, leaving alternate strips of land in fallow to conserve moisture, contour ploughing and the planting of shelter belts was advocated by agricultural colleges and these were widely adopted (Conzen 1990). 157

Dust Bowl | dust veil index

The boom and bust/moist and drought cycle was repeated in the 1950s, though with less severe effects than in the 1930s. Drought struck again in the 1970s, particularly in 1977 when severe wind erosion affected extensive areas. In 1987–9 the most widespread and persistent drought since the 1950s hit the region. In economic terms it was the most expensive drought in US history with losses amounting to some $39 billion; despite soil conservation measures the Great Plains still remained vulnerable to rainfall variability. At the turn of the C21 drought has affected many parts of the region yet again. There are concerns that global warming could expose a larger area of the plains to the impacts of drought (Sauchin et al. 2003).

dust storms In September 2009 a large area of Australia’s E coast, including Sydney, was covered in dust blown from the Outback, a not uncommon phenomenon but rarely reaching populated coastal areas. Many people experienced breathing problems in the highest air pollution levels in Australia since records began. Dust storms and sandstorms are common in arid and semiarid areas with particles being transported by saltation and suspension. Dust storms can be a major cause of soil erosion (see Dust Bowl). The Sahara is a major source of airborne dust and under the right conditions substantial falls of Saharan dust can occur as far away as Britain. Poor management of semi-arid areas may worsen the problem. Dust storms have been linked to the decline of health of coral reefs in the Caribbean since the 1970s. Dust and sandstorms can bury settlements, even cities.

dust veil index An index devised by Professor H.H. Lamb measuring the impact of volcanic eruptions on global climate by the volume of dust and aerosols blown into the atmosphere and their blocking effect on solar radiation. Lamb suggested that dust from low latitude eruptions would be carried around the world while that from high latitude eruptions would have a more localized spread. A DVI of 1000 was assigned to the eruption of Krakatau in 1883 and other eruptions calibrated against this as far back as AD1500. Tambora (1815) had a value of 1500 and a significant climatic impact. Problems with the DVI are that it overemphasizes dust output at the expense of gases. The scale and climatic impact of pre-C18 eruptions are harder to measure accurately. The DVI has been replaced by the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI).


Dutch elm disease

Dutch elm disease Fungal disease (Ceratocystis ulmi) affecting elm trees transmitted by a bark beetle. May have originated in central Asia and reached Europe and N America in imported timber. First reported from the Netherlands in the early C20 it was introduced to the UK in the late 1920s and the US in the 1930s. From the 1960s a more virulent strain emerged in Canada and reached Europe a few years later, killing a high proportion of elm trees. It is possible that there have been earlier outbreaks going back to prehistory. By AD2000 there were few mature elms left in Britain or elsewhere in N Europe, making a dramatic impact on the landscape. (See Elm Decline.)


E earthquakes At their most severe perhaps the most rapid and destructive form of environmental change, earthquakes are sudden movements of the ground to release stresses that have built up over long periods along faults which may be located on plate margins (c.90% of the total) or elsewhere. Earthquakes may be shallow focus at depths of less than 65 km, intermediate (65–280 km) or deep (280–750 km). 80% occur in the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’. Seismic waves radiating from earthquakes occur as P-waves (push) or S-waves (shake or shear). Most damage to buildings is due to the side-to-side movement of the latter (Bolt 1993, Lay & Wallace 1995). Earthquakes were long seen as random, inexplicable events and widely attributed to divine wrath. In 1755 an earthquake killed c.60,000 in Lisbon, impressing Enlightenment thinkers. From the 1760s it was appreciated in scientific circles that earthquakes were waves. In 1857 Robert Mallet produced a map of 6,000 earthquakes highlighting their tendency to occur in specific areas. Earthquakes are generally tectonic in origin; less commonly they are associated with volcanic eruptions or underground collapse. They can also be caused by human activity like dam construction, nuclear testing or pumping water from aquifers. They may in turn set off other environmental disasters such as tsunamis and landslides. Measures to cope with them include the construction of stronger buildings, an expensive task and difficult as many earthquake regions are also poor ones (Bolt 1993, Lay & Wallace 1995). The effects of earthquakes include ruptures, scarps, changes in surface level, tsunamis, landslides, mudflows and avalanches, as well as damage to buildings and infrastructure. Shaking is the main cause of damage to structures. 160

earthquakes | Easter Island

In the C20 over 1.3 million people have been killed by earthquakes. The San Francisco earthquake of April 1906 recorded 8.3 on the Richter Scale leaving c.3,000 dead, many of them in fires which destroyed large areas of the city. At Kobe, Japan in 1995 an earthquake measuring 6.8 caused damage estimated at $130 billion with some 550 dead, 140,000 buildings damaged or destroyed and severe devastation in the centre of Kobe and parts of nearby Osaka. The collapse of elevated motorways which were supposed to be earthquake-proof was a feature of this disaster, encouraging a move in design away from massive strength to flexibility and shock absorption. Thick soils, unconsolidated sediments and alluvium can amplify the effects of earthquakes magnifying the effects of seismic waves and liquifying the ground with devastating effects on buildings. Earthquakes can also trigger major landslides. In 1970 one of 7.7 off the coast of Peru caused the collapse of a mountain, displacing billions of tons of rock and ice, killing over 18,000. Fire is an especial threat in urban areas as in Tokyo in 1923 when a firestorm lasted for two days causing c.200,000 deaths and destroying 360,000 buildings.

Easter Island An isolated island in the E Pacific whose distinctive archaeological remains and environmental history provides an extreme example of the unforseen impact of human activities on natural ecosystems. Because of this it has been used as a case study and cautionary disaster scenario to illustrate the value of environmental history. On this argument the fate of Easter Island, scaled up, provides a warning for the entire planet (Ponting 1992, Diamond 2005). 165 km2 in area, rising to 509 m, 3,680 km from Chile, 2,080 km from the Pitcairn Islands, the island is famous for its enigmatic stone sculptures. Rang Raraku quarry, where the statues were carved, is c.550 m in diameter and contains 397 statues up to 21 m tall and weighing up to 270 t. Roads up to 8 m wide radiate out from the quarry. Along them are 97 more statues, seemingly abandoned in transit. On the island c.300 stone platforms are associated with 393 statues, all of which until a few decades ago had been thrown down. The island was discovered in 1722 by Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutch explorer. The inhabitants had only small canoes and no domestic animals other than chickens. So how did they get there? Thor Heyerdahl (1950) believed that Easter Island had been settled from S America, using the Kon Tiki expedition (1947) as proof that this was possible. The appearance, 161

Easter Island | Ebola

language and tools of the inhabitants, however, suggests origins in Polynesia. Around AD1200 the first humans reached Easter Island, part of the last phase of settlement of the earth. With ample potential for crop production, a lot of free time was available at first for ceremonial activities. The maximum population of the island has been estimated at between 6,000 and 30,000. In 1864 it was 2,000 just after an epidemic of smallpox had killed off most of the population. There is evidence of irrigated production of taro, stone chicken houses and shelters for garden plots and banana cultivation. The inhabitants used lithic mulches, growing crops of taro between stones to reduce evaporation and protect against erosion. The island seems to have been divided into about a dozen territories, each with a chief, platforms and statues. There are c.1,300 ahu, or platforms, not all with moai (statues). c.25 ahu are especially large and elaborate. The ahubuilding period was mainly AD1000–1600. The statues may have commemorated ancestors and faced inwards over the territories. Roads from the quarry were up to 15 km long. Pollen analysis shows that the island was once forested. The early human diet included dolphin, porpoise and tuna, hunted in large canoes. Large amounts of timber were used as rollers to move the statues. It also caused soil erosion and a cessation of sea travelling and fishing due to lack of timber for boat construction. Deforestation also led to a decline in food supply, starvation, cannibalism and a population crash. Around 1680 the chiefs and priests were overthrown by a coup leading to civil war. The last ahu and moai was built c.1620. When Cook arrived in 1774 some of the statues had been thrown down but others were still in place. Easter Island is an extreme example of deforestation not because the inhabitants were especially destructive but because of the particularly fragile environment and small size of the island (Diamond 2005, Flenley & Bahn 2003, Heyerdahl 1950, Kirch 2000, Lightfoot 1994, Loret & Tancredi 2003, Stevenson 1999, Tilburg 1994).

Ebola Very infectious haemorrhagic fever first identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976; has since occurred in other parts of subSaharan Africa. Characterised by massive internal and external bleeding. Mortality is from 50% to 90% of those infected. There is no vaccine or cure yet. It has also occurred in Germany and the USA among laboratory workers in contact with African monkeys. The original host of the disease is unclear. 162

ecocide | ecological imperialism

ecocide Term coined by Diamond (2005) to refer to the destruction of ecosystems by the inadvertent or deliberate activities of human societies.

ecological imperialism The theory that the European conquest of the rest of the world was substantially aided by the introduction of plants, animals and diseases as well as superior technology. The idea was developed by Alfred Crosby (1986), who suggested that European imperialism in the New World was due mainly to ecological factors in ‘lands of demographic takeover’ such as Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Uraguay. The European discovery of the Americas in the C15 brought about the breakdown of biological isolation which has lasted for millennia (Crosby 1976, McNeill 1976). Whites were concentrated in Europe until the last few centuries when they have burst out and settled extensive areas of other continents, dominating the population. The theory has been applied mainly to tropical and temperate areas but has also been used for the Canadian N (Piper & Sandlos 2007). Wheat, already a successful crop, spread widely in the Americas and Australia. By 1600 huge herds of feral horses and cattle spread across the pampas and plains of N Mexico. In the forests of N America feral pigs and cattle spread equally well. In Australia and New Zealand wild pigs, cattle then sheep became feral. Domestic animals introduced from newly colonized areas to Europe – like the turkey – were few. The same trend occurred with pests, though grey squirrels are an exception. Old World rats colonized widely but few New World species have had major effects in Europe. Major epidemics like smallpox killed off large numbers of indigenous people and were followed by less spectacular diseases like tuberculosis and venereal diseases. Smallpox was probably the worst overall killer, especially in N America but not in New Zealand which was settled after vaccination had been developed. This helps to explain why the Maoris still form c.9% of the population there. Again relatively few diseases were, possibly like syphilis, transmitted back to Europe. Weeds were equally vigorous colonizers. The most spectacular was Kentucky bluegrass and white clover. By the 1780s the S American pampas had been transformed by European weeds. Many of the most aggressive plants in the Americas and Australasia are of European origin though a few came to Europe in return (e.g. Canadian waterweed, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam, rhododendron) (Cook 1998, Crosby 1976, 1986, Thornton 1987). 163

ecological revolutions | ecosystem

ecological revolutions Concept developed by Carolyn Merchant (1993) suggesting that major transformations in human relations with nature arise from changes, tensions and contradictions between a society’s mode of production and its ecology. These dynamics support the acceptance of new ideas and world views.

ecology The biological study of the processes operating within ecosystems and the interrelationships between organisms and their environments (Gillett 2005). First used in 1866 by Ernst Haeckel, a biologist. More recently ecology has focused on the impact of human activities on ecosystems, the extinction of species, loss of biodiversity, resilience of ecosystems and their carrying capacity.

economic theories Classical economics, which emphasized the dominance of the free market and the idea that individuals and societies prosper most with a minimum of political interference, has had major influence on how the environment has been exploited, with free markets in land, labour and capital. Early huntergatherer societies had no concept of property. In civilised societies free markets in land developed only slowly and prices were often controlled. By the C18 when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations free markets in land, labour and capital were developing in Europe, especially Britain. The capitalist focus on economic growth is incompatible with environmental sustainability. Adam Smith (1723–90) and other economists like Marx (1818–83) and Keynes (1883–1946) ignored problems of environmental degradation and resource depletion, the fact that the planet’s resources were finite. Marx and Engels (1820–95) saw capitalism more widely as a dominant social system. In the way they considered the environment, however, they absorbed many of the assumptions of classical economics. Marxism, especially as adapted in the USSR, was even more committed to the importance of production with the greatest achievement being the ability to alter the natural world (see Russia).

ecosystem A concept first developed by British ecologist A.G. Tansley in the early C20 who argued that organisms could not be understood without examining 164


their relationships to each other and to their environments. The flows of energy and material through an ecosystem can often be quantified. Aspects of ecosystems which can be studied include their productivity, population dynamics, diversity, stability and degree of manipulation by human agency. Ecosystems are not static through time and normally progress from relatively simple systems with low species diversity and short, simple food chains to mature ones with high diversity and complex food webs. A series of seral stages leading to a climax is known as a succession. (Simmons 1996b). Primary successions begin from completely bare ground, e.g. left by a retreating glacier or cooled volcanic lava. Initial colonization is by pioneer species usually with easily dispersed seeds or spores. They are not tolerant of shading and tend to be suppressed or eliminated by taller species. As succession continues biomass tends to increase. Secondary successions develop from pre-existing ecosystems (e.g. forest to agriculture). The climax occurs when communities reach a stable state without obvious change for a period of years producing a climax community, the ‘natural vegetation’ of an area. The number of species tends to increase as the succession develops. Climax communities are usually complex in structure with a variety of potential niches. The traditional concept of a single, stable ecosystem has been replaced by the idea of a mature or relatively stable community that could take various forms depending on random developments and events in the succession. Successions which are halted or changed by human activity are plagioclimax successions. Various natural hazards can prevent successional development, one of the most important being fire (due to natural or human agency). It is doubtful whether a stable climax can really be reached though e.g. temperate woodlands in the Holocene have experienced marked changes in temperature, precipitation, soil conditions and other environmental variables such as the influence of fire so that stability for any length of time is questionable. The boundary zones between ecosystems, ecotones, are especially rich in species. There is a lack of knowledge of the history of many of the world’s major ecosystems and it is likely that most have been modified by human interference at an earlier stage and more substantially than has previously been thought. Few land-based ecosystems have not been modified by human activity. Within ecosystems are consumers: herbivores are primary consumers which eat only primary producers (plants); carnivores may be secondary or tertiary consumers (eating herbivores or other carnivores). With the exception of humans the higher an animal is in the food chain the smaller 165

ecosystem | Edinburgh

will be its numbers, as it is further removed from the original source of energy. Energy flows through ecosystems via food chains. In any ecosystem the origin of all energy is sunlight, converted into energy by plants through photosynthesis. The flow of energy through an ecosystem is a two-way process. Energy is recycled by two linked food webs: (1) the grazing food web through which energy travels up to the carnivores; (2) the detrital food web or the recycling of energy through organic waste materials. The weight of dry organic matter at any trophic level in an ecosystem is the biomass, a way of representing the chemical energy stored at each trophic level (Begon et al. 1986).

ecotone Transitional areas between ecosystems (e.g. woodland and savanna) often richer in species than the ecosystems on either side.

ecotourism Tourism which is ecologically sustainable and sensitive to environmental problems comprising travel involving minimum damage to environments with the aim of seeing and preserving indigenous ecosystems and cultures. An attempt to avoid the paradox of tourism that too many people visiting a particular place, feature, culture or ecosystem damage or even destroy what they have come to see. Undertaken properly ecotourism can provide valuable income to local populations and resources for environmental protection. In recent years ecotourism has moved from a fringe to a mainstream activity and problems have arisen due to the lack of accepted international standards of practice.

Edinburgh The medieval city had a distinctive location on a sloping tail of rock and glacial drift running E from the volcanic plug on which a castle was built in early historic or perhaps prehistoric times. Edinburgh is unusual as a city in not being located on a major river or on the coast though the port of Leith is nearby. Even the modest Water of Leith did not flow through the medieval town. This led to problems of water supply, sewage disposal and health. The smallness of the royalty or area under the jurisdiction of the medieval burgh and the steepness of the ground on either side of the High Street between the Castle and the Abbey of Holyrood led to the building of 166

Edinburgh | Egypt

unusually high-rise tenements in the C17, up to 10 or 11 stories in places, accessed from narrow canyon-like alleys or closes. The density of occupation intensified environmental problems and gave the town an unhealthy reputation. An outbreak of bubonic plague in the mid-1640s killed off one-third of the inhabitants. An artificial lake, the Nor Loch, below the castle, served as a dumping ground for rubbish. A purer water supply from some miles to the S was laid on in the late C17. From the mid-C18 a spacious new town was laid out to the N and rapidly became home to the city’s aristocratic inhabitants and middle classes, leaving the medieval town to the poor. The contrast between the old town with its steep narrow streets and the spacious, planned new town provides one of the most dramatic townscapes in Europe.

Eemian Interglacial period which began c.130,000 years ago and is named after a site in the Netherlands. Corresponds to the Ipswichian interglacial in Britain. At its maximum it was probably warmer than the Holocene with boreal forests reaching as far as N Cape in Norway and sea levels 4–6 m higher than now. Wetter conditions in the Eemian allowed Homo sapiens to spread out from its areas of origin in E Africa.

Egypt Herodotus called Egypt ‘the gift of the Nile’ (6,500 km, the longest river in the world). Land flooded by the Nile was termed ‘black land’ (the Nile carried c.140 million t of silt per year) but the flood level of the river was variable, sometimes providing too much or too little water. The annual flooding of the Nile and the deposition of fresh layers of silt allowed a narrow 1,300 km long belt of irrigated agriculture and provided a routeway which linked it. The annual floods of the river allowed the development of one of the earliest civilizations. Almost no rain falls on Egypt and the country was dependent on rainfall in the mountains thousands of km to the S. It is no wonder the ancient Egyptians saw the river as divine as Akhet, the flood season, was succeeded by Peret, the season for sowing. Despite the gift of the Nile floods Egypt was a relatively empty land with a population of only 1–2 million during the Old Kingdom (down to c.2160BC. rising to 3.2–7.5 million in the C1AD. Egypt’s failure to transmit its culture more widely in Africa may have been due to its dependence on the Nile and the fact that ancient Egypt’s periods of greatness coincided with desiccation in the Sahara, which isolated it from the rest of Africa. The Nile provided a much 167


better environment for agriculture than Mesopotamia as the flood came at the right time of year for crop growth and irrigation was needed on only a small scale so that there was less pressure on the land. The reliance on the Nile floods allowed only a single crop per year until innovations like animal-driven irrigation wheels in Ptolemaic times. A pattern of competing cities failed to develop: Karnak, Luxor and Memphis were market and cultural centres, the home of the affluent but not populous cities like Uruk. The unification of Egypt by the emergence of the First Dynasty c.2950BC was accompanied with the development of writing. The Nile valley is a striking example of an area where society maintained a suitable balance between the natural environment and human population for c.7,000 years though much of the Nile’s annual layers of silt came from soil erosion in its headwaters. Egyptian agriculture used this natural process with a minimum of interference, irrigating fields first by hand then from c.1340BC by shaduf, which allowed a 10% increase in the area under cultivation. From c.300BC animal-powered water wheels were used. There were short-term problems when the Nile’s floods failed to arrive or were too severe. A long series of low floods c.2250–1950BC has been linked to the social disruption which ended the Old Kingdom. Major irrigation schemes were not constructed until the mid-C19 for the production of cash crops like cotton as well as food crops. Egypt had a unified government and written records from c.3,200BC, with a stable, well-recorded society over long periods. The desiccation of N Africa (see Sahara) may have led to a growing concentration of people in the Nile valley and a shift to agriculture. Growing deforestation required the import of timber from Phoenicia. Grazing animals, especially goats, also reduced the vegetation cover. Irrigation increased the area of cultivation beyond that flooded by the Nile (Houlihan 1996). With the river flowing on a raised bed of its own sediment the lowest land was at the edge of the floodplain, allowing floodwater to spread widely. A higher than usual flood might damage the irrigation systems but a weak one would water only a small part of the floodplain leading to failed crops and major shortages. Between 2180BC and 2160BC the Nile floods failed, bringing drought, starvation and political disorder. The dead were thrown into the river and this spread disease. People attacked and looted state granaries. Years of low Nile floods were linked with dry conditions in India, both being tied to a weakening in the strength of the monsoon circulation which is associated ˜ o events. The Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt in turn with strong El Nin collapsed after 2160BC as central power declined and localism dominated. By 2040BC Egypt had split into two kingdoms, the Upper and Lower. A run 168

Egypt | elephant

of more abundant floods lay behind the rise of a united Middle Kingdom which reached a peak of prosperity around 1900BC. A further period of low floods is thought to have occurred between 1768BC and 1740BC. The rule of the pharaohs survived these climatically induced pressures, but sometimes with difficulty (Bell 1971, 1975, Butzer 1976, Fagan 1999).

einkorn Refers either to wild wheat (Triticum boeoticum) or its domesticated version (T. monococcum). One of the earliest forms of wheat cultivated in the Near E.

El Chichon Volcano in S Mexico, thought to have been extinct as there had been no eruption within historic times. It erupted between 29 January and 4 April 1982. This was one of the largest eruptions of the C20 in terms of the volume of aerosols released (c.7 million metric tonnes of SO2 and 20 million of dust were ejected into the stratosphere) exceeded only by Mount Pinatubo in 1991. The eruption was notable for being the first to have its climatic effects properly studied with modern instruments. The temperature of the stratosphere may have been raised by 4– C as a result of absorption of incoming solar radiation. Two months after the eruption the temperatures of the lower atmosphere in the N hemisphere may have been reduced by 0.2– C. Identifying the impact of the eruption on climate was ˜ o event. made more difficult because it coincided with the start of an El Nin 7 million metric tonnes of SO2 (compared with only 1 million for the Mount St Helens eruption) and 20 million metric tonnes of particulates were ejected into the stratosphere. The cloud of gases from the volcano circled the earth within three weeks.

Eldgja Series of volcanic vents in S Iceland. Major eruptions occurred between and AD940 covering hundreds of km2 with lava flows leading to the abandonment of settlements and farmland. The eruption was more extensive than the Laki eruption of AD1783–4 and is likely to have had an impact on air temperatures across Europe.


elephant The largest land animals on earth today, there are three species, the Asian or Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus), the African savanna elephant 169

elephant | Elm Decline

(Loxodonta Africana Africana) and the African forest elephant (Loxodonta africanus cylotis) though some consider the two kinds of African elephant to be sub-species. They live from 50–70 years (82 is the maximum recorded) and can weigh up to 10,000 kg. Some 600,000 African elephants may survive in the wild but numbers of the smaller Indian elephant are much lower at 30–40,000. After man, elephants have the greatest environmental impact of any other species of mammal. They use their tusks to remove tree bark, can feed from much higher vegetation than giraffes, and by breaking branches and eating leaves in large quantities they create clearings, benefitting other grazing animals. Eventually they convert forest to savanna and savanna to grassland. Their wide tracks through forests can act as windbreaks in the event of fire. The scale of their role in deforestation in Africa has probably been greatly underestimated. They seem to have been tamed from the wild rather than domesticated (bred in captivity) by c.4,500 years ago in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. In the past they were used for war in China, India and Persia, as well, most famously, by the Carthaginian commander Hannibal whose elephants may have been a now-extinct North African species. In India especially they were used for heavy lifting, e.g. of tree trunks. Today their concentration in specific reserves to try and counter ivory poaching can increase the intensity of their environmental impacts causing difficulties for conservationists.

Elm Decline The pollen record in Europe is characterized by a marker level known as the Elm Decline in which, at a date corresponding to the early Neolithic period, the pollen of elm trees dropped suddenly. It occurred c.5200– 5000BP in Britain and elsewhere in NW Europe, a little earlier in S and SE Europe. Theories to account for it include: (1) a prehistoric version of Dutch Elm disease; (2) preferential interference by humans, whether felling of elms which tend to thrive on the best soils or lopping of branches for fodder; (3) a decline in soil fertility due to progressive leaching of bases with deforestation and cultivation; (4) competition from other tree species; and (5) climatic deterioration. Today the disease is the explanation favoured by many archaeologists, perhaps introduced accidentally by incoming farmers. This would have created openings in the woodlands which may then have been exploited for cultivation and pasture. 170

˜o/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) El Nin

˜ o/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) El Nin ENSO events are the most significant source of year-to-year variability in ˜o, ‘the Christchild’, was the name given to a weather around the world. El Nin warm coastal current flowing S off Peru and Equador around Christmas. The name was later restricted to the unusually strong warmings which occurred every few years damaging local fisheries and bringing heavy rain to normally ˜o events occur every three to seven years and are regionalarid regions. El Nin scale manifestations of large-scale ocean/atmospheric fluctuations affecting ˜a is the reverse phase of El Nin ˜ o. These tropical areas of the Pacific. La Nin ˜ o/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) larger-scale events are often termed El Nin events. ENSO events vary in their length and intensity. Under normal conditions in the tropical and sub-tropical Pacific there is a flow of air at high level from the area of low pressure over Indonesia E across the Pacific and a low-level return airflow across the Pacific from W to E. Descending air over the E Pacific keeps rainfall low on the W coast of S America. When these strong, persistent winds blow, W-flowing ocean currents are intensified, pushing warm water across the Pacific to build up on its W side. Periodically, however, the winds weaken or even reverse into an E flow, causing a backwash of warm surface water into the seas off the coast of S America. An ENSO event sets in and, as the warm water spreads E, the equatorial low pressure centre shifts E too, as do the areas of heavy precipitation, sometimes bringing torrential rain and flooding to the normally dry coast of Peru. The effects of major ENSO events are worldwide. In Australia and SE Asia they bring extreme drought, and E Africa is hit by either extreme drought or ˜ o event, one of the most severe on record, flooding. The 1982–3 El Nin brought major floods to Ecuador and Peru, and widespread drought and forest fires to Australia and Indonesia. It was also linked to persistent droughts in NE Brazil, S and E Asia and N India. It is believed that ENSO events can cause the jet stream to steer an irregular course, producing weather anomalies throughout the world, including the W USA and Canada. ENSO events are linked to unusually wet weather in the SW USA ˜a with extremely dry conditions in the central USA. The link and La Nin between ENSO events and the variability of the monsoons is now allowing better prediction of rainfall patterns and crop yields in countries as far away from the Pacific as Zimbabwe. It has been assumed that record-breaking ENSO events of 1982–3 and 1997–8 were symptoms of global warming. They are, however, known from historical records to have occurred since the early C16, while palaeoenvironmental evidence suggests that they began ˜o was largely absent in the early Holocene. An around 4,500 years ago. El Nin 171

˜o/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) | enclosure El Nin

ice core from the Bolivian Andes showed that it began c.5.5 kya, as part of the wider changes that led to the aridity of the Sahara and Arabia (Tudhope et al. ˜o 2001, Sandweiss et al. 2001). As well as disrupting coastal fisheries El Nin events can cause bleaching of corals. The event in 1997–8 caused widespread coral bleaching in the Galapagos and on the Great Barrier Reef. This episode had widespread socio-economic impacts, including on agriculture and forestry as well as fisheries, There were major floods in California, SE USA and E Africa as well as Chile, droughts in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, NE Brazil and Central America. There was extensive crop ˜o failure and livestock mortality. The construction of a chronology of El Nin events from S American historical sources has allowed the identification of ˜o episodes were particularly frequent and strong. A periods when El Nin substantial increase in precipitation in NW Peru between 1864 and 1891 may have been linked to global warming at the end of the Little Ice Age. Following the 1972–3 event world food production per capita fell for the first time in over two decades. In Peru the anchovy fishery collapsed. The event was a wake-up call for governments and scientists around the world. In 1982– 3 in the Galapagos six times the normal amount of rain fell. Bird numbers plummeted but vegetation flourished. The 1982–3 and 1997–8 episodes brought heavy rain to Mexico, California and the Pacific NW while Australia experienced droughts and forest fires. The timing and severity of ENSO episodes have been implicated in the downfall of S American ˜ o episodes may not, on their own, have civilizations like the Moche. El Nin caused the collapse of a civilization but they have acted in some cases as a knockout blow (Caviedes 2001, Davis 2001, Fagan 1999, Glantz 2001).

Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803–82) A leading exponent of transcendentalism who inspired many other writers, including Henry David Thoreau. His essay Nature (1836) presented his views on the links between people and nature.

emmer (Triticum dicoccum) a low-yielding variety of wheat which, along with einkorn, was one of the first varieties domesticated in the Near E.

enclosure The process of converting common land (open field, meadow or common grazing) into private ownership and surrounding it with a boundary, 172

enclosure | endangered species

creating fenced, hedged or walled fields in which farming was undertaken by specific individuals in contrast to open field systems with their communal farming. ‘Enclosure’ can also refer to a field created by this process. In areas like W Cornwall and W Brittany enclosures may date from the Bronze Age. In N England individual small enclosures or closes developed around the original areas of open fields. In areas where open fields were small, enclosure by private agreement was often undertaken on a piecemeal basis from late medieval times. Enclosures could also be created by the intake of land from common pastures. In England larger-scale enclosure for sheep farming through unity of ownership was a feature of some lowland areas from the C15 and attracted the concern of Tudor authorities because the change from small-scale arable farming threatened to reduce employment and grain supply, leading to anti-enclosure legislation. In upland marginal areas of N England enclosure by squatting was widespread in the late C16 and early C17 by people who combined part-time farming with domestic industry. In the C17 the official attitude to enclosure in England and Wales was more permissive and large areas were enclosed by private agreement. Parliamentary enclosure under government acts was characteristic of the C18 and C19 in England and Wales. In Scotland the more devolved system of government enabled enclosure to be undertaken by estate owners without supervision from central authorities. Once the benefits of farming within enclosed fields had become accepted by Scottish landowners the pace of enclosure from the 1760s to the 1830s was rapid, creating a landscape of revolution rather than evolution (Chambers & Mingay 1966, Overton 1996).

endangered species Human destruction of species and ecosystems may go back to Palaeolithic times but extinction of species did not cause major concern until recently (see bison, dodo, passenger pigeon). Endangered species were defined in 1971 by the World Conservation Union as species which decline faster than they can reproduce. Habitat loss is the main cause of extinction but deliberate hunting for food or sport and the introduction of alien species which out-compete native ones are also significant. Species may be endangered locally and nationally as well as globally. In C19 Britain the persecution of predators in the interests of game shooting drove birds like the white-tailed sea eagle to extinction. The picking of rare arctic-alpine plants in Britain and the theft of the eggs of rare birds had a similar impact. With the reduction of tropical rain forests there is great concern that 173

endangered species | ENSO

species may be being driven to extinction before they are even discovered. In 1996 one-quarter of all known mammal species were considered to be threatened.

energy Until recently energy sources comprised human, animal, wind, water, wood, charcoal and coal. Shifting cultivation probably increased energy availability by around tenfold over hunter-gathering, allowing greater population densities. Coal was used in China from the 4th million BC and in Europe from the C11–12AD. In S America llamas were poor carriers so that mules became indispensible after Europeans introduced them. Camels (dromendaries) arrived in the Sahara only at about the start of the Christian era and not in large numbers until the Arab conquest of the C7–8. Between the C11 and C16 they spread into the Balkans. They were used for transport, ploughing and working norias for lifting water, spreading to Iran, India and China. Societies which did not domesticate large animals were at a disadvantage but even at the start of the Industrial Revolution in Europe c.1800 over 70% of the mechanical energy used came from human muscle. The ability of steam engines to convert heat into mechanical energy opened up new possibilities. By 1900 internal combustion engines using petroleum had been developed (McNeill 2000). Renewable energy sources such as wind power and wave energy are now being developed rapidly (Wills 2001).

Enlightenment Period of W philosophy in Europe and N America during the C18 in which reason and rational scientific thought were seen as the peak of human achievement. Its origins lay in the C17 with the work of people like Descartes and Newton, and the foundation of the Royal Society in England. The French Revolution of 1789 marks a convenient end point. The Enlightenment gave rise to more careful observation of, and deductive reasoning about, the environment epitomised in work like James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth. It has been identified by Merchant (1988) as the period in which the scientific revolution began to control nature and objectify it.

ENSO ˜ o. See El Nin


Environment Agency | environmentalism

Environment Agency Public body in England and Wales with responsibility of protecting and improving the environment and promoting sustainable development. In particular the EA has responsibility for protecting communities from flooding. It has detailed streamflow records from gauged sites with information on the timing and severity of past floods.

Environment and History ( journal) Since 1995 this journal has produced articles and reviews with global coverage but a European focus (see Environmental History).

environmentalism A movement which attempts to influence political processes by lobbying, activism and education in order to protect natural resources and ecosystems. In its modern form its origins go back to the Industrial Revolution and concern over pollution and environmental degradation. The first modern environmental laws appeared in the C19, e.g. the British alkali acts (1863) (see pollution, air). In Britain environmentalism also developed from the amenity movement including romanticism (see Wordsworth) which was also a reaction to industrialization and urbanization. In the USA the movement grew in the C19 from concern to protect the scenery and landscapes first of the Appalachians (see Hudson River) and then of the W leading to the creation of the first national parks in the later C19. Literary landmarks were Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac (1949), Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), Garret Hardin’s ‘The tragedy of the commons’ (1968), Meadows’ The Limits to Growth (1972) and James Lovelock’s Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (1979). From the 1960s the movement faced new challenges like oil spills, acid rain and global warming but new organizations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth arose to meet them. There were two main waves in the environmentalist movement, the late 1960s and early 1970s and the late 1980s to early 1990s, which encouraged the creation of new agencies like the US Environmental Protection Agency and UN conferences on the environment (e.g. Stockholm in 1972). The first wave also saw the growth of a number of important NGOs (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and the rise of the Greens as a political force. The 1980s brought awareness of a wider range of environmental issues, including toxic waste, acid rain, ozone depletion, 175

environmentalism | environmental hazards

loss of biodiversity and global warming, and a range of disasters: see Three Mile Island (1979) Bhopal (1984), Chernobyl (1986), and the Exxon Valdez (1989). The World Commission on Environment and Development, established in 1983, became known as the Brundtland Commission after its Norwegian chairperson. Its 1987 report Our Common Future popularized the idea of sustainability, a message which also came from the Rio Summit or UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992) (Ehrlich 1968, Guha & Martinez-Alier 1997, Meadows et al. 1972). Environmentalists advocate sustainable management of resources, seeking to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment by opposing harmful human activities (De Steiguer 1997, 2006, Guha 2000, McCormick 1995).

environmental determinism The belief that human activities are controlled by the physical environment and are at the mercy of environmental changes. The idea that the temperate zones were more favourable than the tropics for human intellectual development was first developed by the ancient Greeks in relation to the ideal, intellectually stimulating climate of Greece. Later it was adopted by the Romans and was rediscovered in the Renaissance and was used to justify European colonial expansion. It was also discussed by writers like Nietzsche, Hegel, Darwin, Toynbee and geographers like Huntingdon. While such crude determinism is discredited the interaction of humans and the environment forms the core of environmental history.

environmental hazards Sources of danger to humans and their activities arising from the environment. Most are natural such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts. Others are of human origin such as pollution and oil spills. The extent, frequency and impact of environmental hazards are often underestimated. Perceptions of environmental hazards and their likely incidence and severity are often likely to vary greatly from reality. The reaction of people in the past to major disasters has been debated. Were such events seen as divine punishment for sins? Rohr (2003), studying the earthquake of 1348 in E Austria and N Italy, concludes that the disaster, though large scale and unexpected, was seen as something which belonged to everyday life rather than divine retribution. Interpretations of past disasters like the biblical flood also give insights into perceptions of contemporary events (Kempe 2003). The C18 Enlightenment marked a change in perceptions 176

environmental hazards | environmental justice

of natural disasters towards a more scientific approach; the 1755 earthquake at Lisbon was especially influential (Burton et al. 1993, Stuber 2003, Wisner 2006).

Environmental History (journal) Produced since 1976 for the American Society for Environmental History and claimed to be the world’s leading scholarly journal in its field publishing articles, book reviews and other contributions. Coverage is global but with a focus on the Americas (see Environment and History).

environmental ideas A case can be made for Thomas Malthus as the first conservationist (Clapp 1994) or for the environmental movement to have started at Dove Cottage in the English Lake District in 1810 when William Wordsworth penned the first version of his Guide to the Lakes. The term ecology was first coined by Thoreau in 1858, albeit loosely. The British Ecology Society was founded in 1913 though most of its early work was on plants rather than animals with little concern for human impact (Clapp 1994). Environmental ideas had little general impact before the 1970s (though see the development of national parks in the USA in the late C19). Economic growth after 1945 encouraged environmentalism, the idea that humans should live in peaceful coexistence with nature rather than seeking domination over it. The single most effective promoter of environmentalism was Rachel Carson whose ideas, expressed in Silent Spring (1962) came at just the right time (McNeill 2000). The Ecology Party (later the Greens) was founded in 1975.

environmental impact assessment An assessment of the effects likely to arise from a new development or policy. First used in the USA in 1969, widely adopted elsewhere, the end product being an environmental impact statement.

environmental justice Emerged as a concept in the USA during the 1980s from concerns over natural resources and social justice in the context of the distribution of landfill and waste disposal sites and the finding that an undue proportion of landfills were located in poor or black areas. Environmental justice poses the question, ‘who pays for the benefits of development?’ (Harvey 1996). 177

environmental justice | Environmentally Sensitive Areas

When a group of people experience social and environmental subordination they are the victims of environmental injustice. Such subordination is demonstrated by the siting of environmental hazards in poor or minority communities and the inequitable distribution of ecological resources which promote the marginalization of such groups, their lack of empowerment and exclusion from decision-making processes (Egan 2002). Environmental justice considers the inequitable environmental burdens borne by ethnic and social minorities, women or the inhabitants of developing countries, analysing the power structures which have blocked environmental reforms. Issues involve access to clean air and water, sufficient food, education and jobs. Environmental justice exists when environmental risks, hazards and benefits are as equally distributed as possible with no discrimination. In the past environmental injustice has been more common at local, regional and national levels with some groups suffering disproportionally from the impact of environmental factors. While the principles of environmental justice have been applied mainly in a modern context they are just as relevant to environmental history (Bullard 2005, Lazarus 2004, Lerner 2005).

Environmental Protection Agency US agency established in 1970 with the aim of protecting human health and preventing air and water pollution, implementing federal laws protecting the environment, and defining the standards required to protect natural resources and the environment at state and local level (Fiorino 1995, Mintz 1985).

Environmentally Sensitive Areas Introduced in England, Wales and Scotland in 1986 as a result if European Community legislation to help safeguard areas where landscape, wildlife or historic features were of national importance ESAs had no planning status and cannot be used as a reason for refusing planning permission. Farmers entered into contracts under which they received payments for farming in an environmentally friendly manner, e.g. reducing sheep stocking levels to promote the growth of heather moorland, maintaining traditional boundaries and outbuildings or enhancing the wildlife value of wetland and woodland sites. ESAs effectively made farmers part-time countryside stewards. Ten areas were designated in 1987 from the Breckland to W Penwith (Cornwall) and 22 areas were created in all, including some in Scotland, accounting for c.10% of the agricultural land 178

Environmentally Sensitive Areas | erosion: coastal

of England. They were replaced in 2005 by Environmental Stewardship Schemes.

epidemiology The study of patterns of disease suffered by humans and other organisms in order to determine their causes. One of the pioneer studies was by John Snow who in 1854 identified the source of a cholera outbreak in London as a specific water pump by mapping the distribution of cases of the disease.

epigraphic records Inscriptions or marks cut in the structure of bridges and buildings, usually with dates, marking unusually high (less normally, low) river flows. Formerly of mainly local interest such information is now being studied more carefully as evidence for understanding the nature and frequency of extreme historic floods (MacDonald 2007).

ergot A fungus (Claviceps purpurae) affecting rye and other cereal crops which, when eaten by humans, can cause ergotism, a disease characterized by hallucinations and convulsions. Thought by some to have been a cause of the events which led to the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692–3 in the USA. Ergot is likely to have been more widespread in medieval and early-modern Europe than in later times.

erosion The removal of part of the land surface by agents such as wind, water, gravity or ice.

erosion: coastal Caused by wave action and currents, coastal erosion is particularly evident on coastlines composed of soft rocks and unconsolidated sediments such as E Yorkshire and E Anglia in England. Erosion may affect the beach itself or the cliffs behind it. One-fifth of the coastlines of the EU are severely affected. Rates of erosion vary through time depending on the degree of storminess or otherwise. Erosion from medieval times onwards has removed many medieval settlements. Human activities may encourage coastal erosion, including the building of groynes, jetties and breakwaters, the 179

erosion: coastal | erosion: soils

grazing of livestock, and damage to sand dune plants. Vulnerable coasts can be protected from erosion by a range of hard engineering solutions, creating armoured coasts as on the Fylde in NW England, but this is expensive. 17% of the coastline of the UK is protected in this way, 30% of the coast of England. One of the fastest rates of erosion in Europe is on the Holderness coast S of Bridlington where erosion is proceeding at 1.8 m/year on average. Some especially bad locations there have recorded 6 m of erosion in two days. Comparison of mid-C19 Ordnance Survey maps with modern equivalents highlights the scale of erosion. Medieval times appear to have been less stormy in NW Europe but the succeeding Little Ice Age was stormier, with coastal erosion proceeding at a faster rate (Muir 1982). Sea level rise in the future is likely to increase the rate of erosion in many parts of the world, presenting governments and local authorities with difficult decisions on whether they should try to hold the existing coastline, at considerable expense, or allow a managed retreat.

erosion: fluvial The greater part of the earth’s surface is, or has been, affected by fluvial erosion. River valleys flowing within drainage basins are the most distinctive landform produced by fluvial erosion, ranging on a small scale from gullies to major gorges like those of the Colorado at the other. The idea of evolutionary landform cycles mainly based on the long-term effects of fluvial erosion were originally developed by James Hutton and later elaborated by the American geomorphologist W.M. Davis in the late C19 and early C20. He developed the model of landform cycles starting with tectonic uplift into high mountains and proceeding through phases of youth, maturity and old age with the landscape eventually being worn down by weathering and fluvial erosion to a peneplain of low relief. The landforms of fluvial erosion include gullies at the headwaters, river terraces (caused by the erosion of earlier floodplain deposits) and, where floodplains broaden out, abandoned stream channels, meanders and ox-bow lakes. Much of the erosion caused by rivers and streams occurs in the very short periods of high flows (See floods).

erosion: soils One of the most important and widespread of environmental processes, soil erosion occurs naturally and generally becomes a problem when its rate is accelerated by human activity, something which has occurred since the first farming communities if not earlier. Traditional agricultural systems were 180

erosion: soils | Eucalyptus

often organized to keep erosion to moderate levels: colonialism often involved the imposition of unsuitable European farming systems which led to accelerated soil erosion. Impacts are on the areas where eroded material is deposited as well as those where it originated. The main causes are wind and water action, often resulting from deforestation, cultivation or overgrazing. Erosion is particularly likely in areas with steep slopes where trees are cut down, as in the Himalayas, and in semi arid areas prone to severe droughts and vegetation dieback. Some climates encourage soil erosion, as in the Mediterranean with its long dry season and heavy winter rain. Cultivation depletes soil organic matter and loosens soil particles, so promoting erosion. Sandy soils with coarser particles are less prone to erosion than silty ones. Erosion may take the form of sheetwash or gullying. Erosion can be countered by techniques such as contour ploughing, terrace construction and the planting of shelter belts. Periods of soil erosion in the past can be identified from the increased deposition of sediment in lakes, as with the expansion of population, deforestation and cultivation in medieval Europe (Enters et al. 2008) with erosion around the Frickenhauser See increasing from 0.9 t/km2/year to 328.

estate records Records of land management on estates from medieval times onwards, including details of tenure, holdings, rents and land use provides details of agriculture, land use and rural environments (Brandon 1971, Titow 1960).

estuaries Where rivers discharge into the sea, creating a range of environments including deltas, salt marshes, lagoons and mangrove swamps. Estuaries are very varied ecologically with high biodiversity. They have been, for these reasons, attractive to human populations for hunting and gathering, agriculture, and fishing. In modern times their abundance of flat land has encouraged industrial and urban development and transport infrastructure including ports (Dyer 1997).

Eucalyptus A genus with over 600 species of hardwood trees, mainly in Australia. Sensitive to cold but well adapted to fire. The first Europeans in Australia were not impressed with the colour and character of eucalyptus leaves and 181

Eucalyptus | Europe

extensive areas were cut and burnt in the later C19 and early C20. The quality of their wood has gradually become appreciated (Doughty 2001, Dargavel 1995).

Europe Only N, Central and W Europe experienced the Mesolithic for 6,000 years. Elsewhere there was a direct transition from Palaeolithic to Neolithic. Mesolithic burning of the woodland cover created clearings which were mostly short-lived and were rapidly re-colonized by forest. It took agriculture c.5,000 years to spread through Europe, reaching the far N and W c.6,000 years ago. The smelting of bronze began c.9000BP in Anatolia and reached Britain c.4000BP. Iron smelting also spread from Anatolia after c.4500BP (Cunliffe 1998, 2001, 2008, Harding 2000, Price 2000). The expansion of the Roman Empire led to population growth, woodland clearance and the development of towns and road networks as well as land reclamation. Its subsequent decline led to the regeneration of woodland but there was reclamation of coastal areas for agriculture in N Holland from C10 and on a large scale from C12. The period from the C11 to the early C14 was marked by population growth, the expansion of settlement and agriculture and massive woodland clearance. Famine in 1315–17 followed by major outbreaks of livestock disease and then the Black Death (1347–49) led to massive population cuts, settlement abandonment and widespread regeneration of woodland. By the C16 population was starting to recover but the 30 Years War (1618–48), one of the most destructive in European history, was notable for the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of property. The C18 brought the Industrial Revolution in Britain but this only began to spread widely elsewhere in Europe in the C19. Growing population encouraged agricultural improvement and innovation, with new crops such as maize and potatoes increasing the food supply. The spread of the railway network from the mid-C19 began to break down regional economies with easier, cheaper transport encouraging out-migration from marginal upland areas to towns and cities. In the C20 WW1 and WW2 brought extensive environmental damage, especially on the W Front (see commemoration). Soviet domination of E Europe from 1945 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 involved the imposition of a command economy and environmental damage on a huge scale (Carter 1977, Carter & Turnock 1993). E Europe became notorious for the development of large-scale industry regardless of environmental impact, creating major pollution problems. 182

Europe | eustasy/eustatic

In Czechoslovakia the surface mines for brown coal in N Bohemia swallowed 116 villages and parts of several larger cities, including the historic centre of Most which was obliterated to expose 85 million tons of coal (Glassheim 2007). In W Europe one of the most significant changes in ecosystems during the last 60 years has been the mechanization and intensification of agriculture, with the change to agribusiness or intense commercialization, to the detriment of biodiversity. In Britain since 1945 95% of lowland meadows, 60% of lowland heather, 50% of ancient woodlands, 33% of upland heather moorlands and 25% of hedges (149,000 mi) have gone. In Brittany 40% of wetlands were drained in 1965–85 while remembrement, the consolidation of farms with the removal of the hedge banks, removed the bocage landscape.

European expansion For much of the world the dominant force in environmental change during the last 500 years has been the expansion of European populations. From the C15 European cultures started to encounter unfamiliar environments and rapidly began to adapt, change or destroy them. The widening of the area under European domination to cover much of the world ended the relatively localized agricultural systems which had characterized most areas by introducing new crops and foods, e.g. potatoes, and by transferring European crops and livestock (wheat, cattle, sheep) to new areas like the Americas and Australasia. For plants there was a two-way interchange between Old and New Worlds, but only one way for livestock because of a lack of suitable species. Species which had evolved separately over millions of years were suddenly brought into contact, sometimes with unexpected results such as European weeds accompanying European crops, the deliberate introduction of rabbits to Australia or of the N American grey squirrel to Britain. There were worse effects on small islands where native species were unable to resist incomers like rats, pigs and goats (see dodo). The changes in environments which occurred in this period are well recorded in documentary sources (Roberts 1989).

eustasy/eustatic Variations in the volume of the oceans due to climate change, including the melting of glacier ice, and the thermal expansion of seawater due to rises in atmospheric temperatures. The locking up of ice on land during the Pleistocene glaciations caused low sea levels while deglaciation caused 183

eustasy/eustatic | Everest, Mount

marked rises, reduced and offset in places by isostatic recovery (see isostasy, isostatic).

eutrophication The pollution of water by excessive nutrients naturally or as a result of human action. Eutrophication occurs in lakes as they experience a slow build-up in nutrients over time as their ecosystems become more productive and diverse. The term is most often used to describe the effects of the inwash of chemical fertilizers from agriculture. This causes a rapid built up of algal blooms which absorb oxygen from the water so that it becomes anoxic, killing fish and other aquatic life. On a small scale this has been seen in lowland lakes in Britain and in slow-flowing rivers. On a larger scale the entire Baltic Sea suffers from eutrophication because of its limited exchange of water with the N Sea. The rivers of the Netherlands, slow flowing and surrounded by intensively cultivated farmland, have similar problems. Eutrophication is encouraged by mild winters and warm summers. The inwash of nutrients can also be increased by flooding.

Evelyn, John (1620–1706) From a prosperous English landowning family Evelyn travelled extensively in France and Italy during the English Civil War period. A founder of the Royal Society he wrote Sylva: a Discourse on Forest Trees in 1664. In this he expressed concerns about deforestation and the shortage of shipbuilding timber. He recommended landowners to plant trees for the navy as a patriotic duty. Sylva has been interpreted by Glacken (1967) as a major watershed between indiscriminate woodland clearance and recognition of the need for forest conservation. Evelyn also wrote an early pamphlet on air pollution, Fumifugium or the Inconvenience of the Air and Smoak of London Dissipated (1661), in which he identified the polluting effects of the burning of coal. He also suggested that smoke from burning moorland and heath might be harmful to agriculture.

Everest, Mount Known as Chomolungma in Tibetan. At 8,848 m the world’s highest mountain, first identified and named after Sir George Everest, Director of the Indian Survey in 1865. Early attempts to climb it were made in the 1920s and 1930s: in 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Iriving died on the 184

Everest, Mount | Everglades

mountain, possibly after reaching the summit. Everest was first definitely climbed in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Since then nearly 3,000 people have reached the summit. Today many of the people who climb Everest are organized by specialist companies who undertake to get fit, but not necessarily experienced, customers to the summit. Everest has become a symbol of the undesirable effects of tourist development in remote areas and fragile environments. The Nepalese government gains a significant income from selling permits to climb the mountain. The base camp area has become polluted with litter while in the summit area, the ‘death zone’, above 8,000 m there is no margin for misjudgement or error. Rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, physical collapse or delays in negotiating fixed ropes because of the number of people climbing at any time can be fatal. By the end of 2009, 216 people had died on the mountain since 1922 and the bodies of c.120 of them are still there. China is planning a paved road to the base camp at 5,360 m.

Everglades Area of subtropical wetlands and freshwater swamp in S Florida, USA covering c.13,000 km2, much of it within the Everglades National Park. Identified by the RAMSAR convention as one of the three most important wetland sites globally. Much of it comprises large shallow lakes like L Okeechobee, 1,900 km2 in area but averaging less than 3 m in depth. Extensive areas were also covered by sawgrass marsh with a coastal fringe of mangroves and pine forest on higher, drier ground. The region suffers from frequent flooding in the wet season but also from drought and fire in the dry season. Inhabited for millennia by native Americans the Everglades were only explored by Europeans from the early C19 having been dismissed as an ‘abominable pestilence-ridden swamp’. Initial attempts at large-scale drainage from the 1880s were limited and were instituted for political as much as economic reasons. Better planned drainage and flood control schemes in the C20 followed damaging hurricanes in 1926 and 1928. These have had far greater effect with a huge expansion of sugar cane cultivation. In the process peaty soils in many areas have suffered from windblow and shrinkage. Today the expansion of agriculture, the growth of urban population (twelvefold since the 1950s) and rising sea levels are among the greatest threats to some of the most vulnerable and endangered ecosystems in the USA (McCally 2000).


extinction of species

extinction of species Today, c.7 million known species exist, only about 2% of those that have ever lived. Previous periods of mass extinction have included the Ordovician 490–433 million years ago, Devonian (417–354) Permian (290–248) Triassic (248–206) and Cretaceous (114–65). Suggested causes include asteroid strikes: the late Cretaceous has the most convincing evidence with a huge crater dating from this time in Yucatan, Mexico. Possible terrestrial causes include climatic change, sea level variation, plate tectonics and, more recently, Palaeolithic hunters. Cyprus preserved dwarf elephants and hippopotamus until c.10000BC and the arrival of the first humans. Islands tend to be particularly rich in species but this makes them especially vulnerable to the effects of hunting, competition from alien introductions or habitat change (see Easter Island, island biogeography). Extinction is a natural process but one whose rate has been greatly accelerated during the Holocene by human activities, especially in the last 500 years due to colonization by Europeans and human population growth in general. Extinction rates over the last 500 years have been 100 times or even 1,000 times long-term background rates but as it is thought that c.80% of extant species have yet to be identified: an unknown number must be becoming extinct each year without anyone realizing. In Hawaii c.60 species of birds became extinct in the period after human settlement c.1500–200BP. In New Zealand, where the earliest human settlement dates from the C13AD, 44 species of birds have become extinct. In Australia 85% of land animals over 44 kg in weight became extinct, including all marsupials over 100 kg. From the megafauna extinctions at the end of the last ice age humans have been implicated in the removal of other species which have been killed off as a result of hunting for sport and food, persecution in order to protect other species (e.g. game), removal of habitat, pollution and the introduction of competing species. Between 1600 and 1900 an animal species became extinct once in every four years. By the 1970s c.1,000 species were disappearing each year – by the 1990s 1 million species had been made extinct (Ponting 1991). Estimates suggest that 30– 50% of terrestrial species may disappear in the next 100–200 years (McNeill 2000) (see dodo).There are major concerns that humans will precipitate a mass extinction of species in the near future.


Exxon Valdez

Exxon Valdez On 24 March 1989 the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling one-fifth of her cargo of 53 million gallons of oil, the worst tanker spillage in American history. Strong winds dispersed the oil beyond any hope of containment. The mixture of oil and seawater formed a mousse which would not burn and was hard to remove from the surface of the sea or the shore. Around 40% of the spilled oil was deposited on the beaches of Prince William Sound; around 2,000 km of shoreline in the sound, the Kenai peninsula and the Kodiak region were affected, including a national forest, four national wildlife refuges, three national parks, five state parks, four state critical habitat areas and a state game sanctuary. The clean-up took four summers with up to 10,000 people involved. Exxon spent over $2.1 billion on this and on reimbursements to federal, state and local authorities. The disaster prompted state and federal governments to tighten laws and regulations relating to oil pollution (Davidson 1990).


F famine Caused by food shortages due to natural disasters, population pressure, human agency, such as war, or a combination of these. Part of the normal experience of most people in the past and still a major problem today. Famines could be local, regional or wider in scale. They often caused influxes of starving people from the countryside to towns and cities in search of charity. A European-wide famine 1315–17 was due to a wet, cold phase which has been suggested as marking the end of the medieval climatic optimum. In 1314 the harvest was reasonable but in 1315 it was very wet; crop yields were about half their usual level and the quality of the grain was low. By early 1316 food crops were in short supply and seed corn was being eaten. Food prices rose three- to eightfold and cases of cannibalism were reported in England, Ireland and the Baltic. Crops failed, livestock died in large numbers and there was widespread famine with high mortality (Jordan 1996, Post 1985). Rain began seven weeks after Easter and was almost unceasing in May, June and July, beating down the crops and hay. August and September were unusually cold with major floods in central Europe, and entire villages were swept away. In 1316 spring rains prevented sowing; the harvest failed and the rain continued. 1316 may have been the worst year of the entire Middle Ages for weather: mildew attacked the grapes and the harvest failed. Animals were unable to feed. Bad weather continued through 1318 with extreme floods in the Low Countries 1320 and 1322. There was a marked increased in mortality due to starvation, with steep rises in food prices due to food shortages caused by crop failure and the disruption of the economic system.


famine | Faroes

In 1696 one-third of the population of Finland died from famine (Braudel 1981). Famine and food shortages are not necessarily the same and this is shown by the case of Ireland in the 1840s: there was plenty of food but those who died could not afford it and the government was not prepared to provide it free as relief. Few pre-industrial societies were free from periods of food shortage though some were more vulnerable than others. Only gradually and in a few areas did people start to emerge from the threat of famine. In China between 108BC and AD1910 there were recorded famines in at least one province in each year. Individual famines could cause huge mortality. In Bengal AD1769–70 and Ethiopia 1888–92 c.10 million are thought to have died from starvation. In the African Sahel 20 years of subnormal rainfall from the 1960s caused a major famine, media coverage of which shocked the world. In pre-industrial Europe famines often brought to an end periods of population growth with runs of good harvests, one of Malthus’ classic checks. In Ireland the 1845–50 potato blight together with cholera and typhus left as many as a million dead and caused a wave of emigration to Britain and the USA.

famine foods Foodstuffs which were not normally eaten but which might be consumed, at need, after crop failure and the onset of famine. In Scandinavia bark bread, and in parts of France bread made from chestnuts ground into flour were used. Shellfish and seaweed have been recorded as famine foods in the W Highlands of Scotland. In Brittany, buckwheat was sown after the cereal harvest and could still be ripe before winter.

Faroes Island group located between Shetland and Iceland. Uninhabited when the Norse arrived c.AD800 apart, possibly, from a few Irish monks but suitable for sheep farming with a mild oceanic climate though a shorter growing season than Orkney or Shetland. The settlers brought an agricultural package of sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and horses as well as cereal cultivation. Seabirds, whales, seals and fish also provided rich food sources. Analysis of lake sediments has shown that the pre-settlement landscape was affected by localized erosion before the Scandinavian settlement. The existing scrub woodland of birch and juniper was soon cleared and sheep prevented regeneration. Walls and terraces were built to limit soil erosion and crops of barley were grown. The rearing of cows and pigs 189

Faroes | fens

was abandoned within the first 200 years of settlement to prevent overgrazing and the focus was on sheep-rearing for wool production. A reasonably sustainable farming system was developed with a diverse base including marine resources. The population today is 47,000 (Dugmore et al. 2005, Edwards et al. 2005, Edwards et al. 1998, Hannon et al. 2001, Small 1992).

fascism In inter-war Germany chauvinistic nationalism fired a love of nature as well as nation, leading to moves towards conservation at the same time that fascist-inspired industrialization was causing more environmental damage. Nazi environmentalists included Alwin Seifert (1890–1972), the Third Reich’s leading landscape design expert. In 1935 the Reich law for the Protection of Nature was passed creating wilderness reserves and protecting threatened habitats as well as promoting organic farming. Autobahns were built to environmentally sensitive plans on Seifert’s recommendation (Biehl & Stauden Maier 1995, Dominick 1992, Heske 1938, Schama 1995). The Italians also passed laws in the 1920s and 1930s to improve soil, protect wildlife in the Alps and encourage re-afforestation but this was offset by pressures to mechanize and improve the productivity of agriculture.

feedback A process of systems dynamics in which an environmental system acts to amplify change (positive feedback) or damp down (negative feedback) the effects of a force acting upon it. The ice-albedo feedback mechanism is a good example of positive feedback.

fens Waterlogged low-lying area of freshwater peat soil in E England originally providing a range of resources: hay, reeds, rushes, peat, wildfowl and grazing. Progressively reclaimed through prehistoric and historic times. An extensive but unknown area was reclaimed by the Romans aided by falling sea levels and a warm climatic phase. They constructed the Car Dyke, over 60 km long, probably for drainage and transport, and may have undertaken large-scale peat cutting for fuel. The peak of medieval population in the C12–13 saw more reclamation, often sponsored by the great monastic orders. The Dissolution of the Monasteries in the C16 led to the neglect of medieval drainage systems. In the early C17 the Fens preserved a largely 190

fens | fertilizers

undrained medieval landscape whose inhabitants, as distinctive as their surroundings, were described by Camden as brutish and uncivilised. Severe floods in 1570 led to a Dutchman named Bradley being commissioned in 1589 to undertake drainage operations. Little was done until after floods in 1607, 1613 and 1614. James I employed Cornelius Vermuyden to undertake drainage work, at first around the Humber. In 1630–33 the 4th Earl of Bedford and 13 landowning partners or ‘adventurers’ undertook to drain the peat of the S Fens, bringing in Vermuyden, who planned a series of new waterways including the Old and New Bedford Rivers using Dutch technology. He appears not to have appreciated the problem of the peat shrinking as it dried, requiring windmills to pump drainage water by the C18 and steam engines in the C19. Today small areas of original fen, like Wicken Fen near Cambridge, are carefully preserved but there are plans to flood more land and create more new fens for their wildlife potential (Darby 1956a).

Fertile Crescent Sometimes also termed the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ or the Near E, an arc of relatively fertile country in SW Asia bounded by the Mediterranean, the mountains of Turkey and Iran, and the Arabian desert, extending from the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, through modern Iraq to SE Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine and Israel. Sometimes extended S to include the delta and lower valley of the Nile. It was in this area that agriculture first developed, leading to irrigation, the creation of towns and cities, the development of writing and the invention of the wheel (see agricultural origins, the Near East).

fertilizers Natural fertilizers include animal manure, human waste, guano and organic matter like turf (see plaggen), seaweed and legumes. They promote plant growth by increasing the supply of nitrates and phosphates or potassium; they can be inorganic (lime) or organic (manure). Organic fertilizers were most widely used in the past, especially animal dung, urban waste, seaweed, peat and turf, and thatch impregnated with soot which added nutrients to soils and could improve soil structure. Lime is often described as a fertilizer but in fact it is an enabler, helping fertilizers to do their work by improving soil structure. Marl, strictly speaking a calcareous deposit from the beds of lakes but often relatively base-rich subsoil dug out in pits, was similar in its effects. In the C19 John Lawes applied sulphuric 191

fertilizers | field systems

acid to phosphate rock producing a concentrated superphosphate fertilizer. In 1909 the chemist Fritz Haber extracted nitrogen from the air using ammonia and Karl Bosch developed the process to mass produce nitrates by what became known as the Haber-Bosch process. In 1940 only 4 million t of artificial fertilizer were produced globally but by 1990 this had risen to c.150 million t (McNeill 2000). From WW2 nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium chemical fertilizers have been available on a large scale and c.80 million metric tons of nitrogen are applied to crops globally each year. Modern inorganic fertilizers are easily leached out of the soil causing eutrophication. Phosphate deposits on Nauru and Ocean Islands in the Pacific were producing 1 million t of fertilizer a year in the 1930s and 3 million by the 1960s, causing huge local environmental damage (Ponting 1991).

field names Especially in peasant societies where land has been in the same family for generations field names may be very ancient and can provide information about past environmental conditions and changes (e.g. the clearance of woodland), types of land use and the former existence of rural industries (Field 1993). Large-scale cadastral surveys such as the English tithe surveys of the 1840s are important in preserving field names which may also survive as street names on modern housing estates.

field systems Early field systems tend to have been obliterated by later activity on the best agricultural land. They survive more readily in marginal locations where initial woodland clearance and agriculture has degraded the environment so that it has not been used as intensively at any time since. At Ceide´ Fields, Co. Mayo an early Neolithic field system has been uncovered from under a peat bog with stone walls in long parallel strips and cross-boundaries defining fields of up to 50 ha which were probably used for livestock rather than for cultivation. Here the main phase of clearance followed immediately after the Elm Decline and lasted for around 500 years before agriculture was abandoned and regeneration of the woodlands began. Bronze Age field systems in parts of SE England appear to have survived into, and been modified in, Iron Age times. Roman field systems, created by the process of centuriation, have been identified in many parts of the former Roman Empire. Open field systems began to develop in early historic times in parts of Europe, eventually spreading widely. In more 192

field systems | fire

economically advanced areas they were replaced by enclosed fields from the C16–17 onwards. In many parts of the world fields are defined by protective terraces (Lord 2004). (See co-axial field systems, enclosure, reaves, ridge and furrow.)

fieldwalking Identifying settlement sites by the careful location, identification and mapping of surface finds on arable land, using grids or GPS technology to locate finds precisely. Developed in 1970s and 1980s as a way of locating settlement sites ploughed out at the surface. There are concerns that finds such as pottery may have been carried a long way from their original home by being thrown on the dunghill, mixed with manure then spread on the fields. However, fieldwalking in many parts of England has picked out a major hiatus with sites of early Anglo-Saxon settlement having no later pottery and medieval nucleated villages having no pottery before the C11, implying a major reorganization in the landscape.

fire Fire has been used in a controlled way from 500 kya for domestic use but there is little evidence for its use outside domestic sites before the emergence of Homo sapiens. Fire allowed small human populations to cause great environmental changes. Fire can be used in most ecosystems under favourable conditions. Its use by early hunter-gatherers affected soils, increasing erosion in upland England c.7000–5000BC and encouraging the formation of peat. Ground temperatures in grassland fires reach c.100– C and in forest fires c.150– C; the effects of these temperatures on plants varies. Fire favours fire-adapted species which can regenerate from underground parts (heather) or have thick bark (redwoods). Some plants actually require fire to regenerate (pyrophytes), e.g. to open up the scales of cones (Barker 2005). Those of the Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) in N America only open with temperatures above 120– C. Due to mineralization of agricultural matter by fire post-burn vegetation is rich in protein and minerals which may attract grazing and browsing herbivores. The forage available for herbivorous ungulates in deciduous woodlands can improve 300–700% in the first year or two after burning. The development of whole extensive landscapes manipulated by hunter-gatherers using fire occurred over much of Australia. Fire may create a more diversified mosaic of habitats and is a natural part of many grassland and forest ecosystems as a result of lightning strikes which are more common than is often realized. In a ten-year period 193


over 15,000 fires are thought to have started naturally within the USA in this way. They may also be started accidentally or deliberately by human action. Since the Mesolithic fire has been used to modify ecosystems by increasing the amount of vegetation accessible to browsing animals and, following the advent of agriculture, to clear woodland for cultivation and pasture. Burning of moorland is still undertaken in the British uplands today to manage heather moorlands for sheep farming and grouse shooting (Simmons 2003). Recent research has shown that organisms are adapted to particular fire regimes, not just fire per se, and changes to these regimes can kill them (Pyne 2010). The difficult task is to achieve controlled burning at the right level and frequency rather than megafires which get out of hand. As was demonstrated in SE Australia in 2009 and Russia in 2010 fires, whether started naturally or deliberately, can become hot enough to generate swiftly moving firestorms and wipe out settlements. Suppression of small-scale fires (e.g. in US forests) can make the situation far worse when they do occur because of a build-up of flammable material. Burnt areas are vulnerable to erosion. Fire histories over 2,000 years can be reconstructed from the study of fire scars in giant sequoia trees in the Sierra Nevada, where low to medium intensity fires occurred every three to eight years. Since European settlement and the cessation of the use of fire by Indians most areas have had a 100–130 year fire-free period, unique in their history. Sequoia seedlings no longer germinate as they need fire to expose the bare mineral rich soils and create clearings. A better understanding of fire history is leading to altered management, using small fires to reduce potential fuel and open up the canopy. Fire can reduce the diversity of ecosystems as not all species can tolerate it. There are two kinds of intense fires: in the canopy of trees and on the ground. The first is characteristic of coniferous and Mediterranean forests and most species will recover. Ground fires tend to alter species composition more significantly and only some will survive (Barker 2005, Blanchet 2003, Pyne 1991, Simmons 1996a, Vale 2002). It can be difficult to accept that fire could have seriously affected forests in W Europe because forest fires are such a rare occurrence today. Rackham has suggested that such woodlands in the past might have burnt like wet asbestos, and Simmons like a pile of wet football socks (Rackham 1986, Simmons 2001). But the susceptibility of modern N European woodlands to fire may be a poor guide to how they may have been affected in the past. It seems likely that the use of fire by early farmers was not random but was carefully controlled with deliberate aims (Mathews 2003). 194

fish farming | fishing and fisheries

fish farming Fish farming’s origins go back to ancient China from where it spread to Korea and Japan. The Romans also practised it and in medieval Europe rearing carp in fish ponds was a widespread way of dealing with the prohibition to eat meat on Fridays. On a commercial scale, however, it is mainly a development of the 2nd half of the C20 due to rising demand for fish and declining stocks. Much of the rapid rise in production has been of freshwater fish in China but salmon farming, which only started c.40 years ago, has also expanded dramatically.

fishing and fisheries Fishing has been a major source of food in many areas of Europe from Mesolithic times, along major rivers as well as on coasts, as indicated by midden deposits. It was not until recent centuries, however, that fishing began to have a major impact on fish stocks. Fishing has created coastal settlements in many areas like Norway, New England and Newfoundland. In Britain fishing villages have developed from Cornwall to Shetland. From the C8AD the Church allowed the eating of fish instead of meat on Fridays, during Lent and on major feast days. Dried salt cod and herring became popular and were light, durable foods for mariners and armies. Large-scale sea fisheries developed in medieval times in the Baltic and N Sea, exploited particularly by the Flemish and the Dutch while English fishermen were opening up more distant fishing grounds off Iceland and the Portuguese off the coast of N Africa (Hoffman 1996, 2001). In 1497 John Cabot discovered the cod fisheries of Newfoundland where fishing began at the end of the C15 by the Basques then the French, Dutch and English. In the late C16 demand for fish fell with the abolition of religious restrictions on eating meat in Protestant countries but by the C18 the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries were expanding again steadily. The cold phase of the Little Ice Age brought herring S from Norwegian waters into British. At the end of the C17 cod fisheries off Norway, the Faroes and Shetland failed as sea surface temperatures fell to 5– C lower than today (Fagan 2001). By 1500 herring fishing in the Baltic had almost ended due to overfishing. Within a few decades the same happened to cod fishing elsewhere in W European waters, encouraging a move to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. By 1450 the Basques were sailing further afield to waters off Greenland and reached Labrador soon after, followed by the English. The Norwegians fished for cod and traded it extensively. Their fishing grounds off Norway and in the North Sea saw competition from the Basques 195

fishing and fisheries

from the C12. In the mid-C14 colder conditions caused the Norwegian cod fishery to start failing. Medieval English fishermen also took cod from Norwegian waters but when the Norwegians raised taxes in 1410, perhaps to conserve stocks, the English moved to the North Sea and Icelandic waters using vessels known as doggers. By the mid-C15 the fisheries off Iceland were being exploited by Hanseatic as well as English and Basque fishermen. By 1500 huge fishing and whaling fleets were visiting the Grand Banks and by 1550 over 2,000 Basque vessels were coming each year. In the C19 the development of trawling greatly increased catches. The mechanization of fishing caused a decline in catches of cod, plaice and haddock in the N Sea and later off Iceland. In the mid-C19 trawlers from Hull and Grimsby organized themselves into fleets which could stay at sea for weeks at a time, their catches being taken home by carrier vessels. The result was overfishing in the N Sea and by the 1860s British vessels were intruding into German and Danish waters. The Dutch, Norwegians and Swedes were also fishing for herring in the N Sea and the Norwegians and French for cod. Steam trawlers began operating from Grimsby and Hull in the early 1880s. The techniques used in the C19 continued into the C21 though with some of the manual tasks being done by machine. Fish stocks recovered during WW2 but by 1977 a ban had to be imposed on herring fishing in the N Sea due to declining stocks. Pressure over fisheries led to the ‘Cod Wars’ between Britain and Iceland in the 1960s and 1970s over fishing rights in the N Atlantic. Iceland claimed a 320 km zone of territorial waters and challenged British trawlers with gunboats. After the mid-C19 railways and steamships opened up new markets for fresh fish and in the N Sea stocks of white fish were falling by the 1890s prompting moves to the Faroes, Iceland and the Barents Sea. Japan followed the British steam trawling pattern in the Pacific. After WW2 the Japanese fishing fleet was rebuilt and dominated the Pacific while the USSR also greatly expanded its fleet. The Peruvian anchovy fishery provided cheap protein for animal feed, especially for pigs and chickens with production rising from 59,000 t in 1955 to 13.1 million t by 1973, though ˜ o event cut it back to 1.7 million t. Most maritime the 1973 El Nin countries extended the zones around their coasts dedicated to their own fishing vessels between the 1950s and 1970s. In modern times the British, German and Russian deep sea fleets have been substantially reduced to the benefit of Iceland and Russia. The global marine catch rose from 1 million metric tons in 1800 and 2 million in 1900 to 15 million in 1950 and 74 million in 1994–96. With such a rise it is not surprising that fish stocks in many parts of the world have 196

fishing and fisheries | flash floods

declined markedly (Grasso 2008, McNeill 2000). Self-regulation of the fishing industry proved impossible until recent times and overfishing could not be checked (De Vries & Van Der Woude 1997, Innis 1954, Jensen 1972). Fisheries have long been subject to sudden catastrophic collapses such as the tiger flathead fishery off SE Australia in the late 1950s (Gowers 2008) or the halibut fishery in the Atlantic in the later C19 (Grasso 2008). Inshore oyster beds around the British Isles were being obliterated by the late C18 (Smout 2011). Cod stocks off Newfoundland crashed in 1968 and so far have not recovered. The California sardine fishery declined sharply from 1945 and had ended by 1968. Production of farmed fish, however, has risen from 5 million t in 1980 to 25 million in 1996, 80% of this coming from Asia, especially China (McNeill 2000, Perring 2001).

fishponds Were shallow, often only 1 m deep, and might be combined with a moat around a castle or manor house in NW Europe. They were often stocked with eels (Anguilla), pike (Esox), bream (Abrams) perch (Perca), tench (Tinca), while carp (Cyprinus carpio) had been introduced by the end of the C15. The heyday of fishponds in Europe was in the age of the great medieval monsteries. Their use declined in England after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Flandrian (post-glacial) period The first stage of the Holocene in the British Isles from c.12000BP to the present. The early part of the Flandrian was associated with rapid sea level rise due to melting of ice sheets with as much as a 7 m rise in 200 years c.8000BP (Goudie 1992). (See Doggerland.)

flash floods Floods on major rivers usually build up steadily over hours or days. Flash floods tend to occur in smaller, often upland catchments where violent convectional rainfall from thunderstorms or stationary weather fronts can trigger floods with little warning. One of the best modern examples in Britain was at Lynmouth in Devon in 1952 after a severe thunderstorm over Exmoor. A well-recorded C18 example affected the valleys of Mosedale and the Vale of St John in Cumbria; in 1749 a thunderstorm over the fells N of Helvellyn caused severe but localized flood which drowned livestock, swept away buildings and deposited spreads of large 197

flash floods | floods

boulders which are still lying today where they were dropped because there have been no floods of a similar magnitude since then to move them. Flash floods attracted the interest of early scientists and topographers, who termed them ‘waterspouts’, because of the extreme damage that they could do within an hour or two. Modern hydrologists study them for the same reasons. For Crete, it is now considered that a concentrated period of flash floods during the Little Ice Age, especially the 1590s and 1690s, has been of major importance in shaping many features of the modern landscape (Grove & Conterio 1995). Flash floods can also be due to dam failures like the Vaiont Dam in Italy which was breached in 1963 with the loss of 450 lives.

flood myths Changes in sea level since the end of the last ice age have been marked, with profound effects on societies and environments. Large areas of continental shelf were flooded during the last 15 kya but the process was gradual and rarely cataclysmic. Yet flood myths are a feature of many early cultures. The legend of the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh predates the earliest version of Noah’s flood by at least 1,000 years. It seems unlikely that this reflects a memory of postglacial sea level rise unless possibly in areas like the Persian Gulf where the sea advanced over 1,000 km between 15 and 6 kya, at times flooding 1 km a year. On the other hand, major river floods may have given rise to such legends or events like the flooding of the Black Sea.

floods Floods can bring benefits like the annual deposition of silt on the floodplains of the Nile in Ancient Egypt but they have probably exceeded all other natural events in terms of total damage and loss of life. In China records of severe floods on the Yellow River go back to c.2300BC, while a flood on the same river in 1887 in which 2–4 million people may have drowned may be the worst flood on record. Great floods in the past include the Bonneville flood in W USA c.15000BP, which was up to 200 km wide and 300 m deep. A flood on the Euphrates c.3200BC which left a 2.4 m deposit of sediment may have generated the legend of the biblical flood. Flood protection by embankments, dikes and levees goes back to early civilizations. Information on major floods from medieval times is available from chronicles and urban records (Weill 2006).


floods: marine | Flow Country

floods: marine Associated with high tides and onshore winds causing storm surges, e.g. New Orleans 2005. In estuarine or delta areas floods may also result from high tides backing up water from rivers. Coastal floods in Mozambique in February 2000 left 950,000 homeless. Reclaimed land protected by embankments and levees is especially vulnerable to marine flooding. Sea floods can damage agricultural land with salt. Historical sources from early medieval chronicles onwards record severe floods on the coasts of NW Europe, especially around the N Sea, which is subject to periodic high storm surges driven by combinations of onshore gales and high tides. One of the worst in recent times occurred in 1953 when 1,835 people were killed in the Netherlands and 307 in the UK when water reached 5.6 m above mean sea level in some places, flooding 1,365 km2 in the Netherlands and 1,000 km2 in Britain. The flood prompted reviews of sea defences in both countries and led to the construction of the Thames Barrier.

floods: rivers A flood in a river or stream occurs when its discharge exceeds the capacity of the channel. This may be due to purely natural phenomena like intense, prolonged precipitation or melting snow and ice. It might also be due to human agency such as the failure of dams, deforestation or land drainage. Floods can be worsened locally by obstructions to water flow such as bridges and weirs or changes linked to urbanization which reduce the infiltration of rainfall and speed up the rate at which it enters the fluvial system. In urban areas flooding can result from the failure of culverts, freshwater drains and sewerage systems to cope with the volume of precipitation resulting from storms. In Central Europe in August 2002 sustained torrential rainfall from two depressions caused devastating floods in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany with peak discharges higher than had been recorded for more than a century. 320,000 people were evacuated in Germany and the Czech Republic alone. Severe damage occurred to buildings and infrastructure. Flash floods may cause serious localized damage but the most severe floods are associated with widespread regional-scale flooding in large river basins.

Flow Country Low, level, peaty country with poor drainage and many small lakes in Caithness and Sutherland, N Scotland. Forested until the expansion of peat in late prehistoric times, this area was lightly settled until the C18AD; 199

Flow Country | foraminifera

reclamation and settlement affected mainly the margins of the area which formed an important wildlife habitat on a European scale, particularly noted for rare breeding birds. The Flow Country remained little known, even within Scotland, until the 1980s when large areas were drained for private forestry development, affecting the wetland ecosystems. Some areas have since been designated as nature reserves and a deteriorating economic climate for forestry has reduced the danger of further large-scale plantations.

fluvial deposition Can take the form of alluvial fans where steep tributaries join large streams. Wider spreads covering valley floors may later be cut into by streams to create sets of river terraces whose height and character may reveal the history of erosional and depositional episodes. The impact of extreme events can be discerned even in the lower courses of major rivers. In the valley of the River Tyne, NE England sections through the sediments deposited by the river contain an extensive layer of coarse sand up to 50 cm thick which is believed to be the result of a single flood in AD1771, possibly the most severe one documented in England in historical times (Macklin et al. 1992).

fluvial erosion Particularly characteristic of the upper reaches of rivers, causing gullying. Lower down, at periods when sediment supply is reduced, streams can cut into valley flood deposits creating terraces.

foot and mouth disease A disease affecting wild and domestic ungulate ruminants, especially cattle but also sheep, causing serious loss of meat and dairy production. Known in the past as murrain, a word also used for other livestock diseases such as anthrax. The 2001 outbreak in England was dealt with by mass culling and had considerable short-term impact on the vegetation of grazed areas.

foraminifera Microscopic marine organisms belonging to the protozoa; open water (planktonic) or bottom (benthic) dwelling. They are both grazers and predators. Their calcareous shells provide data on past ocean and climatic conditions.


forest, private | forestry

forest, private See chase.

forest, royal A legal term introduced to Britain by the Normans to denote an area, not necessarily tree-covered, which was preserved for royal deer hunting. Such areas were subject to special forest laws which controlled and restricted hunting, trespassing, grazing, cultivation and settlement. The extent of forests peaked in the late C12 when they covered at least 20% of England. By this time they had also been introduced to Scotland. In England they were concentrated in the N, W and S-central areas; there were few in the SW, East Anglia or Kent (Langton & Jones 2005, Winchester 2004).

forest transition In most developed countries forest expansion began in the C19 or C20 after long periods of deforestation. The passage from forest shrinkage to expansion has been termed the forest transition. This concept was developed for Europe (Mather 1990, 1992, 2004) but has also been applied to the USA (Ausubel 2000), China (Zhang 2001) and some tropical countries like Mexico and Equador. It is seen as a result of industrialization and urbanization attracting rural migrants and leading to a contraction of agriculture and the spread of forests. The transition may be precipitated by new legislation in the form of forest codes, as in France in the Code Forestier of 1877 or the Forestry Act 1919 in Britain establishing a state forest service, the Forestry Commission (Mather & Fairbairn 2000, Rudel et al. 2005).

forestry The management of woodland by letting trees grow to maturity, clear felling them then replanting in contrast to woodmanship. Tree planting can stabilize soils, increasing interception and reducing runoff and erosion. This can reduce the speed and severity of flooding. Planting of conifers can increase the acidification of streams and will produce marked changes in ground flora and wildlife. Advocated by John Evelyn in the C17 but much more prevalent in the C18. Plantation forestry developed in Germany in the C18 as a response to the damage caused in the Seven Years War (1756–63), leading to the establishment of specialist forestry schools and university courses. Wilhelm Gottfried von Moser’s Principles of Forest Economy (1757) became the bible of new patriotic foresters, leading 201

forestry | Forestry Commission

to the treating of forests as a cash crop with sustainable production (Buergi 1999). In Britain the planting of large areas with single species of tree, often alien conifers, also became common in the C18 not just for aesthetic reasons in landscape parks but also for economic motives. The Duke of Atholl was renowned for having planted millions of trees on his Scottish estates. Wordsworth, in his Guide to the Lakes of 1810, was famously opposed to the block planting of larch trees. Enlightened ideas regarding forestry led to the creation of a botanical garden on St Vincent in 1763, the first of its kind in the Americas. Another one followed on St Helena in 1788, partly under the influence of Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist who had sailed on Cook’s first voyage. By the early years of the C19 a tree-planting programme was under way on St Helena. This impressed Joseph Hooker, the eminent botanist, who had visited St Helena and Ascension Island. In 1843 he acted as an advisor to Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of India from 1847, on the value of tree planting in combating desiccation. The idea had, nevertheless, struck chords in the right places. In 1854 Lord Dalhousie founded the Indian Forest Service and a generation of retired Indian foresters taught at British universities (Weill 2006). Their impact had a significant influence on forestry in Britain and ultimately on the development of the Forestry Commission from 1919.

Forestry Commission British state forestry organization, established in 1919 as a result of a timber shortage during WW1. The Commission began a programme of large-scale purchase of poor-quality upland and moorland. Some of it was already forested; much of the rest was rapidly planted with quick-growing nonnative conifers. The planting of valleys like Ennerdale in the Lake District generated much controversy during a period when demand for national parks was growing. The Commission’s claim that the addition of conifers to the landscape gave the Lake District fells more of an Alpine character convinced few people. Objections were raised to the alien character of the trees, their planting in dense straight-edged blocks and restrictions imposed on access for walkers. The purchase of large areas of land in Eskdale and Dunnerdale with the intention of planting them led to widespread protest (Symonds 1936). Eventually the Commission and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England came to an agreement that the Commission would not undertake large-scale block planting within the 300 sq. miles of the central Lake District. The first generation of trees were 202

Forestry Commission | forests

just old enough to be felled during WW2. After 1945 the Commission expanded its activities, planting huge areas in the Scottish Highlands, S Uplands, N Pennines and Wales. This drastically altered the character of many upland landscapes, affecting river regimes and damaging many archaeological sites and landscapes. The Commission provided some rural jobs directly, and indirectly as in the paper mill at Fort William, Scotland. Increasingly though, with the price of timber falling, the economies of managing the Commission’s timber resources were undermined and by the early C21 in some areas it cost more to extract the timber than it was worth. The recreational value of the Commission’s plantations had been appreciated before WW2 with the setting up of forest parks like the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in the Trossachs, Scotland. After WW2, especially from the 1970s, the recreational side of operations was developed on a larger scale, together with more concern for ecology. Today Ennerdale, site of one of the earliest planting programmes, is being rewilded with the removal of some of the spruce trees in the upper part of the valley and a diversification of the forest lower down with a return to more traditional grazing practices (West 2003).

forests In Britain the idea that large areas of primeval forest remained untouched until cleared by the axes of Anglo-Saxon or Norman peasants has long been exploded. There was considerable clearance in some areas by the end of the Neolithic, e.g. Salisbury Plain. Large-scale clearance of upland fringes followed in the Bronze Age. In the N Pennines and S Scotland there were extensive clearances during the Iron Age which continued under the Romans. Much of the woodland recorded in Domesday Book was probably secondary woodland which was being re-colonized. In Europe within the last few centuries Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and France have stabilized then increased their area under forest by top-down measures, like Japan (Gummi & Buergi 2007). In the C20 the global forested area has been markedly reduced. In the C19 and C20 most forest clearance was for agriculture but logging has been a more prominent reason in recent decades. In the temperate zone the forest area stabilised then started to increase again in the first half of the C20. By contrast tropical and boreal forests shrank fastest after 1960. Australia has the smallest proportion of its area covered by forest of any continent (apart from Antarctica) (Diamond 2005). Of forests existing in 1788, 40% have been totally cleared, and 35% partly logged. 203

forests | Forests: North America

Six hundred years before Japan, the Incas carried out massive reafforestation with terraces to halt soil erosion, increase crop yields and secure wood supplies (Diamond 2005). In Japan peace and prosperity from the C17 led to large-scale deforestation, for construction timber, especially for the residences of the aristocracy, towns and cities. Rebuilding after major urban fires led to additional deforestation. Wood was also the main fuel for domestic heating, cooking and industry. As more land was cleared for agriculture to feed a rising population leaves, bark and twigs were used on the fields as ‘green fertilizer’. Deforestation continued until the C18 but from c.1780–1860 careful management checked it. Wood consumption was reduced by more lightly built houses and more efficient stoves. By 1700 a complex system of woodland management was in place with strict controls over the use and transport of timber; the amount of domestic construction timber that could be used by a family was specified for different levels of society. The first great Japanese silvicultural treatise dates from as early as 1697. Independently of Germany the Japanese developed the idea of plantation forestry with trees treated as a slow-growing crop. In the late C19 with the rise of industry Japanese forests were again under pressure. After c.1950 there was a move from charcoal and fuelwood to the use of fossil fuels and the forests began to recover (Totman 1989, 1995).

Forests: N America At the time of European discovery c.45% of the USA (excluding Alaska) was forested, one-fifth of this lying west of the Great Plains, 80% of it from the E coast almost to the Mississippi. These forests were seen by pioneers as wilderness which needed eradication. By 1920 this had been reduced to c.190 million ha of which c.56 million was original forest, 101 million acres badly disturbed and 33 million ha non-renewable. By 1977 when 195 million ha was commercial forest and 101 million ha non-commercial, forests still covered around one-third of the area of the USA. Between 1607 and c.1920 half the forests in the E of N America vanished but there was by this time a resurgence of woodland in areas like New England as the availability of larger farms on better land attracted settlers to move to the Mid-W. The Indian impact on N American forests was considered to have been limited when the population of N America before European discovery was thought to have been only 1–1.15 million (Williams 1989). Recent revisions have been substantially upwards to c9.8–12.25 million suggesting a far greater potential environmental impact. By 1492 the population density in 204

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some forest areas may have been greater than in contemporary rural areas of W Europe. Population density in the American woodlands was greater in the S than in the N, on the W coast than the E and on coasts than inland. Cleared areas for settlement and crops were maintained by fire. Timber was needed for huts and palisades. Beyond the fields were areas of forest from which dead and fallen wood was collected for fuel, often with a radius of up to 5 km. Such areas were also used for collecting nuts, fruits, berries and roots. Hunting was carried out over a wider area. In the agricultural E settlements were shifted every 10–15 years though villages with river bottomlands with regular deposits of fresh silt might be more permanent. Abandoned sites needed 20 years to regain their vegetation. Fires were used to create clearings, to attract game and to encourage the growth of secondary vegetation which had high yields of nuts, berries and small game. Its use opened out the forests creating a more parkland landscape (Patterson & Sassaman 1988). Indians were a major ecological factor in the distribution and composition of American forests (Williams 1989). Fire caused thinning of the forest, changes in its composition and its replacement by grass. At the forest– grassland edge in SW Wisconsin between 1829 and 1884 trees advanced 2–3 km in 30 years after the cessation of burning: much of the E prairies were the result of fire. Fire also altered the composition of forests by producing sub-climaxes. As early as 1840 farmland in New England was reverting to forest. After 1880 this began in New York State, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and after 1890 in Ohio, Indiana and W Virginia (Williams 1989).

forests, perception of From the time of the first farmers forests have been seen as wild and hostile, while clearing them represented progress. They were dark places with real danger from wild animals and wild men, places of pagan superstition inhabited by druids, trolls, sprites, ogres and werewolves. These attitudes have come down to modern W society through fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. They also sheltered outlaws such as Robin Hood and thus became places of freedom. Early settlers in America saw the woods as ‘hideous and desolate wilderness’ (Bechmann 1984, Holt 1982, Nash 2001).

Fox, Sir Cyril (1882–1967) Archaeologist and Director of the National Museum of Wales, remembered particularly for his book The Personality of Britain (1932) in which he distinguished between the contrasting cultural as well as landscape 205

Fox, Sir Cyril (1882–1967) | France

characteristics of the Highland and Lowland zones, a concept which, with various modifications, has been used by many writers since.

fox hunting Foxes have been one of the most consistently persecuted of British animals. Hunting them with packs of hounds is recorded as early as the C13. Before parliamentary enclosure foxes were more numerous in the ancient countryside of SE and W England than in the open field Midlands. The enclosure of open fields altered this. From the mid-C18, peaking in the C19, mounted hunts following packs of hounds became very popular. In the Midlands parliamentary enclosure created pasture landscapes with frequent hedges and ditches to jump. Small copses of woodland or coverts were planted to shelter foxes. By 1895 there were 163 packs of foxhounds in England. With the recent banning of fox hunting and adjustment to urban living conditions numbers of foxes in Britain are significantly greater today than in the C18 or C19.

France With faces on the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and continental Europe, ranging from the high Alps to the Camargue and the Landes, France has, arguably, the widest range of environments in Europe, the regional variations of which have generated distinctive traditions in geography and history (see Annales School). From the C8–9AD the development of nucleated villages and open field systems over much of N France led to the development of a lasting contrast in landscape with areas of early enclosure, or bocage, and more dispersed settlement. From the C17 population increase and agricultural improvement led to the widespread drainage and reclamation of wetlands. The various local-scale regions or pays and, at a larger scale, regional economies, were poorly integrated despite the existence of major navigable ˆ ne. Subsistence crises with heavy rivers like the Seine, Loire and Rho mortality were a feature of parts of France into the C19 long after they had disappeared from England. The C19 brought state-backed reclamation. From 1860 there were ambitious reforestation programmes in the Alps, Pyrenees, Massif Central as well as planting of trees in the sandy Landes S of Bordeaux and the marshes of the Sologne N of the Massif Central. The first national forestry school was created in 1824. In the C20 land abandonment in marginal areas caused an increase in the extent of forest so that France has today the third largest forested area in Europe after 206

France | frost fairs

Sweden and Finland. The railway network created a national market in agricultural produce between 1850 and 1900 (Clout 1979, Planhol & Claval 1994). Phylloxera, a louse which attacked the roots of vines, was first identified in 1863. It destroyed one-third of France’s vineyards but was countered by grafting resistant American root stocks on to French plants. In the C19 France was one of the most forested countries in W Europe, especially the E and N with 17 million ha c.1750 and 8.8 million in the midC18. The population of France rose from 19 million in the early C18 to 26.3 million by 1790 and 38.8 million by 1851. Much clearance of forest was for arable: c.0.5 million ha was cleared in the first 60 years of the C19. Charcoal iron smelting was widespread on a small scale but with concentrations in the Ardennes, Lorraine and the Vosges. Deforestation was especially severe in the extensive communal lands of the Pyrenees, Alps and Causses, especially Dauphine and Provence. Soil erosion occurred on slopes spreading coarse deposits and boulders in the valleys. Fuelwood was in short supply in many areas. In the Haute-Alps, Provence and Puy de ˆ me animal dung was used as fuel. Yields and flocks decreased in the Do worst affected areas leading to economic decline and depopulation especially in the French Alps. Afforestation was opposed by pastoralists, leading to rebellion in the Pyrenees in 1829, and in the Alps and Jura too, but it was more successful in the Landes, Champagne and the Vosges (Bess 2003, Clout 1977, 1979, Robb 2007, Williams 2003).

Friedrich, Caspar David (1774–1840) German romantic artist who painted strongly atmospheric, brooding forest and mountain landscapes (Schama 1995).

Friends of the Earth Environmental pressure group founded in 1969 in San Francisco by David Brower; one of the three main international NGOs (with Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund) which shaped the global environmental agenda in the later C20. With branches in nearly 70 countries Friends is less concentrated than the other two organizations, with a focus on scientific research and political lobbying.

frost fairs Some unusually cold winters in London during the most severe phase of the Little Ice Age in the later C17 encouraged the freezing of the Thames, 207

frost fairs | fur trade

leading to the fairs on the ice which have been captured in paintings and engravings. The Thames froze over at London at least 11 times in the C17 but it is also likely that the design of the old London Bridge, with its many narrow arches, ponded back fresh water making this part of the river more susceptible to freezing than it is today with a more free-flowing current and a dredged, scoured channel (Lamb 1982).

fuelwood Wood from trees burned for domestic heating and cooking, Despite the use of fossil fuels and renewable energy fuelwood remains one of the most important sources of energy in the world – around 3 billion people still rely on it. Cutting fuelwood can cause significant deforestation leading to erosion and desertification.

fulling The process of washing woollen cloth in fullers’ earth, a kind of clay, to remove the natural grease from the wool. From medieval times this was done using water power in small fulling mills.

fur trade Hunting animals for their fur goes back to the earliest human societies. In medieval Europe animals like foxes, martens, stoats and squirrels were hunted; large numbers of the skins of such small animals were needed for a single cloak. Real growth began in early modern times in Europe when furs became fashionable status symbols. Beaver furs were especially popular for hat-making. When European fur sources dried up the trade expanded into Russia. Opening up new fur-producing areas was a major reason for Russian expansion into Siberia and Alaska. There was then a shift to trapping sea otters in the Pacific islands. By the late C18 the trade was in decline as animal populations were reduced. In America the fur trade was also a major motive for frontier expansion, first selling furs collected by Indians, then with Europeans doing the trapping as well. By the mid-C17 a well-organized trade existed along the St Lawrence river, controlled through trading posts. The Hudson’s Bay Company organized the trade on a large scale in the C18. By the early C19 the eastern forests had been hunted out and the trade had spread to the Rockies and Pacific coast. By the mid-C19 the trade had, effectively, come to an end.


G Gaia hypothesis Named after the Greek goddess, the concept was developed by James Lovelock in 1969. He suggested that the Earth is a single ecosystem or organism which regulates itself by feedback mechanisms between the abiotic and biotic elements of the system. To a degree the planet can moderate the impact of changes made to it through self-regulation and a tendency to equilibrium. Lovelock argued that human agency is overriding this regulating mechanism (Lovelock 1979, 1988).

Galapagos Islands 960 km W of Ecuador, mainly the tops of sunken volcanoes. Discovered by Europeans in 1535 the islands were occupied by pirates, whalers and later farmers. Famous for the insights that they provided for Charles Darwin in his research on the origin of species. Today feral populations of goats, donkeys, pigs, horses, cattle, rats and mice threaten their ecology. In recent times there have been problems with commercial fishing, the introduction of non-native species (dogs, cats, goats, pigs, rats) and the ˜ o events. Population has risen 300% in recent decades and impact of El Nin tourist numbers have increased fourfold in 20 years. The islands were awarded World Heritage Site status in 1979.

Ganges 2,525 km long, one of the largest river basins in the world, its waters are considered holy by Hindus but are badly polluted. The basin is silting up


Ganges | gardens

due to erosion in the Himalayas. Afforestation is under way to try to counter this but progress is slow.

Garamantes A N African people inhabiting modern Libya who dominated the Sahara for 2,000 years, reaching a peak of power between 500BC and AD500. They constructed elaborate underground irrigation systems using groundwater accumulated when the Sahara was more moist.

garden archaeology/history Has developed in the last two decades as a distinctive sub-discipline of landscape history and archaeology. Involves using combinations of documentary research, old plans and excavations to recreate the layout and character of gardens at different periods (Barnatt & Williamson 2005, Turner 2010).

garden cities An approach to urban planning established by Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850– 1928) and expounded in Garden Cities of Tomorrow (1902). Garden cities were designed as model communities with plenty of green space and surrounded by green belts. Howard’s book contained plans for a town of c.32,000 inhabitants laid out on a concentric plan with wide radial avenues. Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City (England) were laid out on similar plans and a number of US towns were also influenced by these ideas. They also led to the creation of post-WW2 green belts in Britain.

gardens A major means by which people in the more developed parts of the world have connected with the environment. An important but underresearched wildlife habitat especially since modern agriculture in W Europe has reduced bird numbers on farmland. Definitions of gardens, their meanings and uses, have varied through time and vary geographically today. In the Judeo-Christian tradition their importance is symbolised in the Garden of Eden. They have a long history in China as places of calm and meditation. From there ideas about gardens spread to Japan. Although they were created in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and were celebrated by Roman writers like Virgil, the origins of the modern garden lie in Renaissance Italy. In C18 France and 210

gardens | Geddes, Sir Patrick (1854–1932)

Britain landscape gardening on an heroic scale was undertaken in the creation of landscape parks (Williamson 1998a). In Europe until modern times gardens were more for utility than ornament, valuable sources of vegetables and fruit. Modern gardens, as places for relaxation (or hard physical labour) amid-flowers, shrubs and lawns, were in part related to the development of the urban middle classes in the C19 and to suburbanization. In the C20 gardening in Europe has become big business with considerable environmental impact (e.g. the rise of peat for compost is causing the destruction of valuable bogland habitats) (Berrall 1978, Brown 1999, Morris 1983). Gardens represent nature tamed: Islamic gardens, focusing on flows of water, were a feature of Muslim paradise, recreated in places like the Alhambra in Granada. Another origin of European gardens lay in monasteries with a focus on medicinal herbs and vegetables and walled gardens around the castles and great houses of medieval Europe. Knot gardens were introduced to Britain early in the C16 originating in Italy via France. From c.1500 stately gardens were laid out under the windows of great houses: the ones created for Henry VIII at Hampton Court near London are especially notable. After 1660 the French formal influence was ˆ tre’s work at Versailles from stronger in Europe and Britain. Andre´ Le No 1662 was especially influential though it took 50 years to finish. Notable C18 landscape gardeners included Launcelot (Capability) Brown and Humphry Repton (Simmons 2001). Botanic gardens were established in Europe from the C16 with new species imported from abroad. Padua is claimed to have been the first with an area of 20,000 m2 by 1545 (see garden archaeology).

garrigue A vegetation type in the Mediterranean characterized by very short scrub and heath, produced by overgrazing of maquis. It comprises xerophytic low-growing shrub vegetation resulting from heavy grazing and burning (Delano-Smith 1979).

Geddes, Sir Patrick (1854–1932) Innovator in urban and regional planning, famous for Cities in Evolution (1915); in 1919 he drew up a plan for the city of Tel Aviv. His ideas focused on a triad of place, work and folk bridging the gap between the biological and social sciences, and town and country.


gender | genetic variations, human

gender Male and female interactions with the environment differ. Such differences vary between cultures through time and between countries. There may be gender splits in activities relating to the environment (women gathering or cultivating and men hunting but with men taking over cultivation when heavy draught animals needed to be worked). There are different gendered responses to the rise of environmentalism and women have had major roles in lobbying for conservation. Gender blindness has characterized much research in environmental history. A gender-sensitive approach reveals linkages between ecological processes and labour, property and power which are critical in understanding environmental change (Bowerbank 2004, Leach & Green 1997, Merchant 1980, Scharff 2003, Schrepfer 2005).

general circulation models (GCMs) Computerised models involving mathematical representations of climatic processes on global or regional scales, using a three-dimensional grid of points at the earth’s surface and at a number of levels through the atmosphere. First developed in the USA in the 1970s and 1980s, GCMs have become more complex and sophisticated, simulating the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and biosphere. GCMs can simulate possible future climates and can also reconstruct those of the past. Simulations of present-day climate can be run then compared with models in which a key variable – e.g. atmospheric CO2 content – has been changed. Modern GCMs have simulated climatic patterns like ENSO events, the monsoon circulation or droughts in the Sahel. They are less good at modelling the complex behaviour of the upper westerly circulation. They model changes of temperature more effectively than precipitation. At a regional scale their predictions are still generalised and broad brush.

genetic variations, human The theory that farming spread through Europe as a rolling frontier of colonization is supported by studies showing that the genetic make-up of the European population is characterized by a series of bands radiating N and W from SE Europe (Chikhi et al. 2002). About 20% of the modern gene pool in Europe seems to have been contributed by a wave of farmers moving W from Turkey c.8500BP (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994, 1995) though a far higher proportion, around 70%, has come from groups migrating into 212

genetic variations, human | Germany

Europe from the same direction in earlier times, between c.14,000 and 11000BP (Balaresque et al. 2010).

geoarchaeology The analysis of sediments and deposits on archaeological sites to reconstruct past environmental conditions.

geographical information systems (GIS) The computerised analysis of map data allowing the storage, representation and interrogation of huge spatial data sets. GIS analyses map-based data using computer programs which allow the full complexity of environmental problems to be assessed. GIS are becoming a standard tool for the interpretation of data relating to environmental and landscape change though they tend to encourage desk-based surveys with only limited inputs from fieldwork and documentary sources (Agnoletti 2006a, Gillings et al. 2005). (See historical landscape characterization.)

geological maps Maps of solid (hard rock) geology and drift geology (unconsolidated surface deposits) can provide information on soil and drainage conditions on the surface as well as details of past events such as landslips and, by indicating mineral veins, can identify areas of former mining activity.

geophysical survey Techniques which detect sub-surface features due to their physical difference from surrounding soils, identifying magnetic and electrical anomalies. Magnetometery and resistivity methods are most commonly used on archaeological sites with ground penetrating radar.

geothermal energy Accessible and close to the surface in only a few places like Reykjavik in Iceland where it provides hot water for swimming pools, warms greenhouses and generates electricity.

Germany National myths have claimed that there was a special bond between the Germans and their forests (Lekan & Zeller 2005). The forest landscapes of 213

Germany | glaciations, Pleistocene

central Europe inspired a mythology which was developed and exploited by the Nazis but went back to the Roman author Tacitus, who claimed that the isolated forest habitat made the Germans the most racially pure of European peoples. This encouraged the Nazi ideology of a biologically pure Aryan race. In the late C19 and early C20 the German forest was being identified as a crucial element in the cultural landscape. After the Nazis came to power in 1933 forest themes invaded German art with the somewhat ludicrous image of Hermann Goering as Reichsforstmeister (Schama 1995). In the E European territories annexed by Germany the landscape was to be given a more Germanic character to make German settlers feel at home. The myth that only the Germans had a mystical sensitivity and kinship with nature and could exercise a responsible custodianship of the environment led to the displacement of untermenschen in E Europe. The designers of the autobahns built in Germany in the 1930s were sensitive to landscape aesthetics designed to blend the roads into the countryside. The first one was opened in 1933 and by 1939 there were 3,700 km, symbolising the binding together of the state and creating employment. Their creator, Alwin Seifert (1890–1970) was an architect and landscape gardener. The landscaping of the autobahns was seen at the first stage in a programme of environmental reform. His designs favoured sinuous curves; travel on the autobahn was conceived as experiencing a series of successive, unified spaces – valleys, basins, forests – by following their borders rather than cutting across them. The aesthetic tradition was more that of a C18 English landscape garden than a modernist project (Groening 1992, Radkau 1996, Rollins 1995).

Gilpin, William (1724–1804) The great British publicist of Picturesque tourism.

glaciations, Pleistocene ¨ nz, Mindel, Riss and Wu ¨ rm ice The old four-glaciation chronology with Gu ¨ ckner in the early C20 advances, produced for the Alps by Penck and Bru dominated thinking for decades until evidence for a much larger number of shorter phases of glacial advance became incontestable. Oxygen isotope evidence from ocean sediments has shown that in the last 3 million years over 40 climatic cycles with cold and warm phases have occurred. Until c.900,000 years ago these cycles were c.40,000 years long. After this they shifted to 120,000 years long with 100,000-year cold spells and 20,000-year warm ones. 214

glacier fluctuations

glacier fluctuations Glaciers have been seen as menaces to upland communities, scientific laboratories, sublime scenery, recreational sites, features to be conquered and explored, symbols of wilderness and nature’s power and now, with global warming, as an endangered species (Carey 2007). Today glaciers cover c.15 million km2 of the earth’s surface compared with 47 million at the Pleistocene maximum. The Scandinavian ice sheet was c.3,000 m thick over central Norway and the Gulf of Bothnia. Mean temperatures during glacial phases were c.5– C lower than today but locally over 10– C. Snowlines were 600–700 m lower in the Caucasus, 1,300–1,500m lower in the Pyrenees, Apennines and Atlas Mts. Measurements of variations in the size and length of glaciers have been collected for centuries in Europe. Although there can be marked variations between different regions and even individual glaciers within regions, there is a broad pattern of glaciers being reduced during the medieval climatic optimum, advancing in the Little Ice Age and retreating in the C20, often dramatically. Glacier fluctuations can have major impacts on surrounding environments, e.g. with floods due to the sudden release of meltwater. Glacier fluctuations are the result of changes in the balance between the occurrence of snow, which nourishes glaciers, and loss by the melting or calving of icebergs. A glacier advance reflects an increase in mass balance due to climatic conditions which encourage accumulation over melting. Glacier fluctuations provide good barometers of past climatic variations because they can amplify small changes in temperature and/or precipitation into perhaps several hundred metres of advance or retreat (Porter 1981). The rise of mean global temperatures of about 0.5– C which occurred in the C20 was accompanied by worldwide retreat of glaciers and small ice caps (Lamb 1982). The spectacular scale of this can often be appreciated by comparing modern limits with those shown on old maps or photographs. Earlier periods of glacier advance in Europe can be established from documents and moraine limits which may be dated by radiocarbon techniques or lichenometry (Matthews 1975, Matthews & Shakesby 1984). The moraine record of glacier fluctuations is inevitably only a partial one as a major ice advance obliterates traces of previous smaller ones. However, if all glaciers in an upland region are considered, longer more detailed chronologies can be constructed than for a single glacier (Karlen 1973). The responses of glaciers to climatic changes are not simple (Bradley 1985). Many combinations of climatic factors can produce changes in mass balance. Colder winters may not necessarily bring more snow; milder 215

glacier fluctuations

winters may be associated with a more vigorous atmospheric circulation, greater snowfall and accumulation. Glacier advances may be linked to cool, cloudy summers when melting is reduced. There is a time lag between changes in mass balance and an advance or retreat of the glacier snout and downwasting of ice can occur without any change in the position of the glacier margins. Time lags vary with factors like length, slope and thickness of the glacier. Some may respond within 20 years; others may take longer. Due to variations in purely local conditions different glaciers in the same region may be advancing and retreating at the same time. Within Europe the behaviour of Scandinavian glaciers is less well recorded before the later C19 than many alpine ones because they occurred in more remote, poorly documented areas (Grove 1988). Studies of glacier fluctuations in Scandinavia in recent centuries have had, as a result, to depend more on evidence from lichenometry (Lowe & Walker 1984). Le Roy Ladurie (1971) established trends in post-medieval climate in the Alps by reconstructing glacier fluctuations from maps and documents. A similar approach by Grove (1988) using Norwegian tax records has established a rather different chronology of advances and retreats in southern Scandinavia between the C16 and C19. Glacier fluctuations in the Little Ice Age are recorded in most detail from the Alps, Scandinavia and Iceland because documentation is more detailed (Ba´rdarson 1991, Ladurie 1971, Neste & Kvamme 1991, Svendsen & Mangerud 1977). Phases of glacier advance in different mountain areas did not always coincide. The period c.1560–c.1610 was characterized by advances throughout Europe but the maximum Little Ice Age limits were reached c.1640–50 in Switzerland, 1670–1705 in the Austrian Alps, 1720–50 in Norway and 1850–90 in Iceland. Glacier advances during this period have been identified from all parts of the world, including tropical ice caps like Mount Kenya and Quelccaya (Peru) (Clapperton 1993, Mahaney 1990, Thompson 1992) and the Rockies (Luckman et al. 1993). It has been suggested, but not proven, that the innermost moraine limits in some Scottish corries date from the Little Ice Age nadir at the end of the C17. In the Alps in the 1590s and the earliest years of the C17 glaciers around Chamonix, Grindlewald and Zermatt were advancing, obliterating fields and farms and sometimes blocking side valleys leading to some serious floods (Haeberli & Beniston 1998, Ladurie 1971). In the late C17 and the early C18 around the fringes of the Jostedalsbreen ice cap (Norway) farmers were petitioning for tax reductions due to avalanches, floods and other damage caused by the expansion of the outlet glaciers (Grove 1988). 216

glacier fluctuations | gley soils

From the early C20 many glaciers began to retreat. In the 1850s the Alps contained about 4,474 km2 of glaciers. By the 1970s this had dropped to 2,903 km2 and by 2000 to 2,272. Alpine glaciers today have only one-half to one-third of the volume they had in 1850. Between the 1850s and the 1970s the loss was around 2.9% per decade but between the 1970s and 2000 8.2%. Since 1850 Alpine glaciers have lost 30–40% of their surface area and 50% of their volume. C20 glacier retreat has been worldwide. The Carstenz glaciers in Papua, New Guinea lost 80% of their area between 1942 and 2000. The W. Medan glacier there, after retreating over 2,000 m since 1936, melted entirely between 1997 and 1999. In Papua New Guinea three summit ice domes in the Central Cordilleras Range disappeared in the 1960s (Brown 1990). During the last glaciation there was little ice in the N Island of New Zealand but extensive ice sheets on the W side of S Island. Glaciers in New Zealand have lost c.25% of their area during the last century (Chinn 1996). The Franz Josef glacier has retreated a long way from its Little Ice Age (c.1750) maximum but there have been temporary re-advances in 2000 and 2006; because the glacier is so steep there is only a five-year delay between greater precipitation in the mountains and an advance of ice at the snout. Today in tropical Africa glaciers cover a mere 10 km2 on Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and in the Ruwenzori. At their Pleistocene maximum they reached c.800 km2 with glaciers also in the Aberdares and on Mount Elgon; temperatures were 6–8– C lower than now. There were also c.750 km2 of glaciers in Ethiopia and possibly even limited glaciation in Saharan Tibesti. Whether glaciers occurred in S Africa is not clear but it has been suggested that there was no ice in the Drakensberg (Flenley 1979, Goudie 1999, Mahaney 1989, 1990, Neste & Dahl 2000).

Glacken, Clarence (1909–89) University of California, Berkeley, author of Traces on the Rhodean Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century (1967), a history of human attitudes towards nature which has been extremely influential on the development of environmental history.

gley soils Soils with mottled grey and yellow patches caused by waterlogging and a reduction in oxygen supply. In these conditions anaerobic micro-organisms


gley soils | globalization

flourish by extracting oxygen from chemical compounds. Such soils may require careful drainage in order to permit cultivation.

global warming The idea that atmospheric gases act as a barrier to solar radiation bouncing back from the earth, influencing surface temperatures, goes back to the early C19 and has been labelled the greenhouse effect. Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have fluctuated markedly in the past. The suggestion that human activities, especially the release of additional greenhouse gases like CO2, CH4 and CFCs could cause net atmospheric warming was seen as far-fetched by many scientists in the 1960s but since then warming and the release of greenhouse gases has accelerated: global average temperatures are thought to have risen 0.6– C between the 1890s and 1990s. Background levels of atmospheric CO2 were c.280 ppb for the last 10,000 years. They began to rise in the C19 with increased burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and the reduction of other carbon sinks. In recent years CO2 levels have risen annually by 0.4%. Global average temperatures have risen faster since the 1980s giving the characteristic ‘hockey stick’ graph. The rate of global warming varies: it is greater over land than sea and in higher N latitudes than in tropical areas. Predicted impacts of global warming include sea level rise and coastal flooding, heatwaves, droughts, fires and floods, with negative impacts on agriculture in many areas. Yet attributing any particular climatic event to global warming is difficult and there are still claims that despite the temperature rises that have occurred climate is nevertheless within the range of natural variation. Predictions for the future remain imprecise despite ever-more sophisticated computer models (see GCMs). Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have so far produced more talk than action and some countries, notably until recently the USA, have been sceptical with entrenched positions.

globalization The growing interdependence and interconnectedness of the modern world, especially in economic terms, fuelled by technical changes, especially in the field of communications such as the Internet. Cheaper flights have encouraged a massive growth of international tourism. The development of businesses with worldwide brand recognition and impact such as McDonald’s and Coca Cola has also been a feature of globalization. The term was first used in the 1980s in an economic context but had earlier 218

globalization | gold rushes

origins in European imperialism. Since WW2 there has been a reduction in protectionism, freer movement of capital making it easier for companies to spread operations worldwide. The operations of transnational companies in developing countries have not always been ethical, particularly as regards the environment, exploiting natural resources in countries where regulations are weak or poorly enforced, e.g. clearing rain forest for hardwood timber or to make way for commercial ranching.

goats Domesticated c.7–8 million BC in the Zagros Mts, spreading with agriculture into Africa and Europe, carried by Europeans to the Americas and Australasia. Hardier than sheep and, unlike them, preferring to browse on leafy plants rather than on grass. Good at climbing trees to eat their foliage. As a result goats are capable of doing great damage to woodland causing deforestation, erosion and desertification.

Godwin, Professor Sir Harry (1901–85) British biologist and ecologist who produced the first zonation of pollen for postglacial deposits in Britain. He studied plant successions at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire and was involved in pioneer work on radiocarbon dating of organic deposits.

gold rushes Periods of rapid in-migration to an area following the discovery of gold (also silver and diamonds). Characteristically they affected thinly settled frontier areas and often caused great environmental damage at a local scale.The influx of prospectors and miners caused boom towns which, when the deposits had been worked out, might become ghost towns like Tombstone, Arizona (though here the attraction was silver rather than gold). As gold rushes developed individuals prospecting with gold pans and sluice boxes gave way to large mining companies. Among the most familiar gold rushes are California 1849 and Australia 1851. The Klondike gold rush of 1897–8 in the Yukon district of Canada was described as ‘the last frontier adventure’ but had serious impacts on ecosystems and native inhabitants leaving scars on the fragile landscape which are still visible (Morse 2003).


grain prices | grasslands, temperate

grain prices Fluctuations in grain prices have been used to identify poor harvests and may also serve as pointers to their cause such as unusually wet or dry conditions. Hoskins (1968), looking at English grain prices in the C17 and C18, identified rises of over 80% above normal in some years. Peaks of grain prices in early-modern Europe have been closely related to demographic crises caused by famine (Lamb 1982).

Grand Tour Cultural journeys to continental Europe undertaken in the C18 by the sons of British gentry and nobility, often accompanied by tutors, focusing on France and especially the cultural treasures of Italy whether classical, dug from the ruins of ancient cities, or artworks like the pictures of Claude Lorrain which were eagerly collected and taken back to Britain. The Grand Tour fostered interest in classical and Renaissance art, architecture and attitudes towards landscape and environment, giving rise to neoclassical mansions and the landscape parks which surrounded them (Black 1992).

grange A medieval monastic farm, associated particularly with the Cistercians but also the Augustinians and Benedictines, inhabited by communities of conversi or lay brothers, often linked to the colonization of upland waste. Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire had 26 granges and Furness Abbey in Cumbria 18. In late medieval times they were increasingly rented out to tenants. Whether taken over from earlier tenants or carved out of the wilderness monastic granges represented a major change in the landscape and environment of medieval Europe.

grasslands, temperate

Occurring from 40–60– N and S, characterized by hot summers, cold winters and periodic droughts. Found in mid-latitude continental interiors especially in the N hemisphere. The present vegetation is a palgioclimax succession due to fire and human interference and has been greatly altered by agriculture and livestock rearing. The Russian steppes, American prairies and the Murray-Darling basin in Australia are now major cereal producing areas, the US Mid-W and the Argentinian pampas cattle ranching areas and the Veldt of S Africa and the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand, sheep 220

grasslands, temperate | grazing

rearing country. Soil erosion, wind blow and flash floods are typical environmental hazards (see Great Plains). In China grasslands cover 46% of the area, mainly in drier N, and c.90% of these are degraded by overgrazing. Grass production per ha there has fallen 40% since the 1950s. This has increased the frequency and severity of floods and of dust storms in E China (Diamond 2005). In America grasslands covered c.15% of the area when Europeans first arrived. There has been considerable debate on whether the transition from woodland to grassland was climatic or human-induced. The role of natural and human-induced fire has also been debated. Before they possessed horses Indians used fire to drive bison, of which there were c.50 million in the C18. The spread of horses N from New Mexico from the mid-C16 was a major influence on Indian cultures and their use of the environment. Extensive areas of mid-latitude grasslands were used for cereal cultivation from the late C19, especially wheat, representing the largest increase in arable land in history, fuelled by growing demand from Europe and the E USA. Technical advances such as reaping and threshing machines, barbed wire and steel ploughs, later tractors and combine harvesters, allowed production to continue expanding while railways provided rapid transport to markets. In The USSR the Virgin Lands Scheme from the 1950s ploughed up 30–40 million ha on highly mechanized large state farms. Cultivated grasslands have had major problems with soil erosion: see Great Plains.

grazing Grazing densities and overgrazing are difficult to measure and compare between areas or over time: variation is due to the size of livestock, their grazing habits and the extent to which shepherds or herdsmen moved their animals daily or seasonally. They can be controlled by systems of stinting. Overgrazing may result in significant degradation of the vegetation cover. In the Scottish Highlands the replacement of smallscale mixed peasant farming by commercial sheep farming in the Highland Clearances of the late C18 and early C19 led to a decline in biodiversity through the removal of nutrients with a fall in productivity later in the C19. In Britain in the 1950s and 1960s sheep numbers increased by over 50% particularly due to EU subsidies, seeding of pastures and supplementary feeding. Numbers rose again between the 1960s and 2000 and heather moorland declined markedly in many upland areas as a result (Smout 2000). 221

Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) | Great Plains

Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) The last flightless bird in the N hemisphere which occurred widely on islands from Canada, Greenland and Iceland to Norway and Britain, providing food for local populations from early times.The largest colony, in Newfoundland, was killed for food in large numbers by European fishermen. The last known breeding pair was killed in Iceland in 1844.

Great Barrier Reef 2,300 km long and usually tens of km offshore from NE Australia, the world’s largest coral reef system. Soil erosion in Queensland due to clearance of natural vegetation for beef cattle rearing has caused coastal waters to become more turbid and damaging and killing corals on the reef. Since the 1960s there has been extensive damage to the reef due to human activity. It is now feared that bleaching of the coral due to higher sea temperatures may destroy the reef within decades (Daley 2006, Daley & Griggs 2008).

Great Lakes Five lakes (Ontario, Erie, Superior, Huron and Michigan) which, taken together, form the largest freshwater body in the world (18% of the world’s fresh water). They are important for transport, fishing, industry and power generation. For over 100 years the Great Lakes have suffered from the inflow of effluent from surrounding industrial towns and cities. By the 1950s they were polluted and eutrophic. In the late 1960s fires occurred on the surface of L Erie due to pollutants igniting. Falling fish catches led to the introduction of exotic species which almost wiped out the native trout. A joint US–Canadian commission was formed in 1987 to tackle the problem and there has been a good deal of co-operation since then over reducing pollution and identifying problem areas (Ashworth 1987).

Great Plains Extensive area of grassland in central USA. The C19 view was that Indians only settled the Great Plains with rifles and Spanish horses. Discoveries at Folsom (New Mexico) in the 1920s and other sites showed that the Plains had been occupied continuously by hunter-gatherers for at least 10,000 years. Folsom was a kill site used by groups of hunters. In the early Holocene spruce forests gave way to prairie grasslands as early as 9000BC as the climate warmed. In the E parkland landscapes with deciduous trees 222

Great Plains

gave way to open prairie by 7500BC. The boundary between the woodland and the prairie was an important one. There was a tendency for the area to become drier in the mid-Holocene and most megafauna became extinct by 8000BC as these major vegetation changes were occurring. The prairie reached its maximum extent between c.6000BC and c.3000BC when the boundary with the forest was 100 km E of the present one. Between c.6000BC and c.2500BC temperatures and dry conditions reached a Holocene maximum but the area was still occupied by human groups though use of particular areas by bison and their hunters was dependent on levels of moisture.The soils of the E Plains were more suited to cultivation when close to streams, where agriculture produced substantial food surpluses for trade with non-farmers to the W. Agriculture appears to have developed c.500 years before European contact. Communal bison hunting on foot peaked after AD550 when the use of the bow and arrow reached the area, possibly from the NW. There was increasing use of bison jumps over which the animals were stampeded at sites like Glenrock, Big Goose Creek and Vore, Wyoming. At Vore there is evidence of five hunts at c.25-year intervals after c.AD1500 following periods of increased rainfall. It is likely that heavier rainfall improved the grazing and bison numbers. The Head Smashed In buffalo jump in W Alberta was used for over 7,000 years. From as early as 5400BC cairns marked drove lines up to 5 km long leading to these jumps. Such mass-kill communal hunts may have been relatively unusual events confined to periods when rainfall and bison numbers were high. Hunters brought buffalo from several miles around to the kill sites and fire was sometimes used as well as fences to contain animals. The Apache obtained large numbers of horses after 1650. Horses had reached the Comanche, Shoshone and Ute by c.1730. Horses made them less vulnerable to fluctuations in bison numbers. Sedentary groups like the Cheyenne and Dakota became nomads again after acquiring horses, joining the Blackfoot and Comanche in constant raiding and warfare. The change to horses led to an unstable way of life. The bison were reduced by the increasing use of rifles, by diseases caught from cattle and by the spread of the railways in the 1860s and 1870s bringing special excursion trains of hunters. In the E plains were semi-sedentary farming cultures in the valleys of the Missouri, Arkansas and Red Rivers living by combinations of agriculture, hunting and foraging. Maize and beans were grown from c.AD700–1100, a period of warmer, moister climate. Permanent settlements had multi-family lodge houses, often fortified with ditches and stockades. Bone hoes were made from bison shoulder blades. Drought cycles and climatic instability caused disruptions and constant competition for 223

Great Plains | Greece

farming land from the early C14AD; war caused people to disperse into smaller settlements with large villages only being re-established along the Missouri in the late C15. The Mandan Indians in the C18 lived in villages with up to 50 houses surrounded by palisades and ditches (Bamforth 1989, Fagan 1991, Frison 1991, Speth 1983). Early European settlers saw the plains as a miserable wilderness – arid, treeless and level like the ocean, an obstacle to be crossed on the way to the W coast. The early American frontier stopped at the woodland edge then leapfrogged 2,000 miles to Oregon. Between 1849 and the American Civil War Texas cattlemen drove animals to St Louis and further north for the slaughterhouses of Chicago. After the Civil War a more northerly route was pioneered, the Chisholm Trail to Ellsworth, Abilene and Kansas. The Spanish started ranching in Texas from 1690. Escaped Spanish cattle developed into the Texas longhorn, tough and well adapted to the region. The big N cattle drives began in 1865, covering 1,200 km in two months. In 1867–71 c.1.5 million cattle passed through Abilene. In the 1870s a ranch could be established anywhere on the open range where there was water and good grass. Between 1879 and 1882 the price of cattle increased threefold and there was a huge boom in ranching leading to disastrous overstocking, overgrazing and friction between original ranchers and newcomers. The severe winter of 1885–6, followed by a drought killed the open range cattle industry and sheep began to appear on the Plains. 1870–90 saw the settlement of the Plains by millions of farmers (Lawson & Baker 1981, Stegner 2002) (see Dust Bowl).

Greece A rugged and varied landscape, characteristically Mediterranean, dominated by mountains (c.80% of the area) with extensive karst areas (Crouch 1996). The civilizations of Mycenaean Greece and Minoan Crete emerged c.4000 years ago and lasted for c.800 years with settlements of up to 50,000 inhabitants. They used wood abundantly: deforestation and soil erosion has been suggested as one of the causes of their decline c.1100BC. By later classical times many early city sites, once coastal, had become landlocked due to silting up by sediments washed down from the surrounding mountains. The topography of mainland Greece with small relatively plains, less fertile than they might appear, divided by mountains encouraged the development of small, independent city states and the highly indented coastline (c.15,000 km with c.3,000 islands) favoured communications by sea rather than overland. The Mycenaeans, seemingly a 224

Greece | Green Revolution

warlike civilization, appear to have absorbed the Minoans, reaching a peak of prosperity c.1400–1200BC. From c.1300BC onwards, however, the Mycenaeans were attacked by ‘Sea Peoples’, possibly from Asia Minor, and were then invaded overland by the Dorians. This was part of a period of upheaval in which the Bronze Age civilizations of the E Mediterranean collapsed. Environmental factors such as a severe and prolonged drought have been suggested as one of the possible causes (Carpenter 1966). From classical times power shifted to city states like Athens which had a population of c.275,000 at its peak. The Peloponnesian War (431–404BC. between Athens and Sparta caused a lot of environmental damage. The Athenian policy of abandoning the city’s landward area and supplying the population by sea resulted in the Spartans devastating the crops repeatedly (Lanier-Graham 1993). In more recent times Greece has had serious problems with forest and scrubland fires.

green belts Areas around towns and cities with a high percentage of open land and relatively strict planning controls on housing and industrial development. The idea originated in the garden city movement of the C19 in the UK and from its exponent, Ebenezer Howard. The aim of green belts was to limit urban expansion and provide areas of recreation relatively close to urban populations. The idea was pioneered in Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, becoming a major element of the 1944 Greater London Plan. It was tried in the USA before WW2 but with limited success.

Green Revolution The development of high-yielding crop varieties (HYVs) linked with new agricultural technology; such crops can increase yields two- to fourfold and reduce the growing period required so that more than one crop can sometimes be grown in a year, while withstanding climatic extremes or diseases. It began in Mexico in 1943 by the Rockefeller Foundation with a programme to improve yields of wheat and maize. 1945–65 maize production in Mexico increased fourfold and wheat sixfold. Worldwide the main phase was c.1965–78. The Green Revolution has had the greatest effect in SE Asia and S America, less in sub-Saharan Africa. On the down side the new crop varieties may be less palatable and the seeds always have to be bought rather than being kept from year to year. Some varieties have proved less resistant to drought and disease. Heavy applications of 225

Green Revolution | greenhouse effect

pesticides, insecticides and herbicides may be necessary. Soils can become impoverished. Green Revolution crops tend to benefit more prosperous farmers rather than poor peasants. The Green Revolution’s main impact came during the 1960s and 1970s. High yielding varieties of wheat, maize and rice, in particular, were selected for responsiveness to fertilizers and irrigation water as well as resistance to pests and suitability for mechanical harvesting. The development of dwarf wheat and rice was especially successful. In India the Green Revolution was introduced in the late 1960s with drought-resisting varieties of rice yielding 5 t/ha instead of 1.5. These turned India into one of the world’s main food producers but made much greater demands on soil nutrients. Soil fertility had to be maintained by fertilizers and new irrigation systems had to be introduced. Farmers were able to increase the variety of crops grown, raising their income and reducing food shortages in the cities and cutting imports of food. Many poor farmers could not afford HYVs so that social inequalities widened. Rice production in S Asia trebled within 20 years. India’s imports of grain fell from 10 million t in 1967 to 0.5 in 1977. Today India has a food surplus although population has risen substantially. Greatest support for the Green Revolution came from countries on the fringes of the Communist bloc. From Turkey to S Korea HYVs served as weapons against socialism in the 1960s though China, Cuba and Vietnam also adopted them. Other less positive effects in some Asian and Latin American countries were that it increased the incomes of landed elites and made land reform less urgent. It also promoted independence from US food aid. This was not just an agricultural but a social revolution, supporting small independent farmers, allowing countries to be self-sufficient in food supplies when they would otherwise have been in deficit.

greenhouse effect Not a human phenomenon but a natural one. The gases making up the earth’s atmosphere are almost transparent to incoming short-wave solar radiation but some gases, only a small percentage of the total volume of the atmosphere, absorb a proportion of the outgoing long-wave radiation emitted by the earth’s surface. These gases warm the atmosphere which in turn re-radiates heat, some of it back down to the surface. This additional heating forms the greenhouse effect. Without it the average surface temperature of the earth would be –18– C. Concern over global warming relates to the fact that human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels 226

greenhouse effect | Greenland, Norse settlement

and land use changes, has increased the atmospheric concentration of gases like CO2, methane nitrous oxide, ozone and water vapour, which occur naturally, and CFCs, which are completely artificial. These gases vary in their importance as a percentage of the atmosphere and their effectiveness per molecule as greenhouse gases; on this measure methane is about 60 times as effective as CO2. Current concentrations of CO2 are c.390 ppb, rising by c.1.9 ppb a year. It is widely believed that the pre-Industrial Revolution level was 280 ppb but there is debate about whether this was stable throughout the Holocene or varied with climatic fluctuations.

Greenland, Norse settlement Like the inhabitants of Easter Island, the demise of the Norse Greenlanders has been used by several environmental historians (e.g. Diamond 2005) as a warning of how failure to adapt to environmental change by modifying lifestyle, economy and attitude can be fatal. For c.450 years the medieval Norse colony in Greenland was the most remote outpost of European civilization. Because of the lack of later disturbance the settlements of this colony are well preserved. Greenland was first settled by native Americans between c.2500 and 1500BC and then S Greenland was abandoned before the arrival of the Norse in c.AD980. The warm climate of this region at this time also allowed the Inuit to expand quickly E from the Bering Strait across arctic Canada. By AD1000 virtually all the suitable sites in Greenland for livestock farming had been occupied by the Norse. Settlement occurred in two main areas of SW Greenland. The W Settlement was some 300 miles further N than the E one and had more severe climatic conditions with lower hay yields. Overall there were some 250 farms with a total population of c.5,000. Pigs, destructive because they rooted up the fragile vegetation and soil, were soon abandoned and the focus of the economy was on cattle rearing. Although the cattle had to be housed for nine months a year they remained an important status symbol, though sheep and goats were better adapted to the climate. The Greenland cows were the smallest known in the modern world, only 1.2 m high at the shoulder, and were kept for milking rather than for beef. Hay was collected from fenced infields near the settlements; in some places irrigation was used to increase hay yields. Hay was also collected from outfields and saeters at a greater distance. The Norse diet focused on dairy products, caribou and seal meat; seabirds and whale meat were more minor elements. Virtually no fish seems to have been eaten, perhaps because of some taboo. 227

Greenland, Norse settlement | Greenland ice cap

There was a marked seasonal work pattern with seal hunting in May and early June, livestock grazing June to August, walrus hunting in the far N in the late summer and long periods spent largely indoors from November to April. The Greenland economy was vulnerable to the failure of any of its components. Society was tightly controlled, conservative and under the influence of the Church, inflexible and resistant to change. The Norse failed to adopt Inuit skin boat technology or skin clothing. They did not learn how to hunt ringed seals or whales in the outer fjords. Summer trips to Nordrseta (the high Arctic) for walrus ivory and sometimes live polar bears for export was an expensive use of manpower and valuable boats. The appointment of outsiders as bishops kept the society European-oriented; it is possible that the Nordrseta hunt was maintained to provide export commodities which could buy luxury items for the Church. The cathedral at Gardar was larger than the two in Iceland. The inhabitants stuck to European fashions in clothes despite their unsuitability for the climate. The Norse settlers had a considerable impact on the Greenland environment, clearing scrub woodlands, cutting turf for house construction and causing soil erosion. The building of one of the large Greenland farmsteads would have required the turf from several ha of ground. The W Settlement seems to have been abandoned between c.AD1275 and AD1350. The evidence of hunting dogs, cows and calves being killed and butchered at one excavated farmhouse implies starvation. The last inhabitants of the E settlement may have survived into the late C15 (Amorosi, T. et al. 1997b, Amorosi, J. et al. 1998, Arneborg 1999, Arneborg & Gullov 1998, Barlow et al. 1997, Buckland et al. 1996, Fitzhugh & Ward 2000, Lynnerup 1998, McGovern 1981, 1983, McGovern et al. 1988, Seaver 1996).

Greenland ice cap

Greenland has an area of 2.1 million km2 of which only 0.4 million is ice free. The ice cap is over 3,000 m thick, holding 10% of the world’s fresh water. It is a significant component in the global climate system and studies of cores from its ice cap have provided long-term information on its climate. The Greenland ice cap contains c.2.85 million km3 of ice, about 10% of the world’s land ice, in an ice cap up to 5 km thick. Recent research suggests that it may be melting at three times the rate previously estimated. Between 2002 and 2005 the ice cap shrank by c.239 million km3 a year with the rate accelerating in the latter half of the period, particularly in SE Greenland. Previous estimates had been for a loss of 80 km3 a year between 228

Greenland ice cap | groundwater

1997 and 2003. Much of the rising trend has been attributed to meltwater lubricating the outlet glaciers and increasing their rate of flow. At the current rate of melting the ice cap might disappear within 1,000 years causing total sea level rise of 7 m. Already, melting is thought to be causing a sea level rise of 0.6 mm a year.

Greenpeace An international NGO founded in 1971 with the aim of promoting environmental conservation, the preservation of endangered species and promoting peace through nuclear disarmament. Has mantained highprofile campaigns against whaling, sealing and the transport and disposal of hazardous waste. Distinguished from other organizations by its willingness to undertake direct protest action.

Grenzhorizont Boundary horizon in peat bogs of NW Europe marking a change from dark humified to lighter less humified peat. Thought to mark a change from drier (Sub-Boreal) to wetter (Sub-Atlantic) climate around 2500BP associated with major changes in settlement and agriculture (Roberts 1989).

Grime’s Graves Neolithic–Bronze Age flint mines in Norfolk, England with some 800 galleried shafts mining seams of flint at depths of up to 20–40 feet, dug with antler picks. Two layers of poor flint were dug through to reach the best ‘floorstone’ layer. Each shaft may have produced 7–9 t of flint.

groundwater Accounts for 30% of the world’s water. Drawing water from sub-surface sources for domestic and agricultural purposes using wells and boreholes goes back to ancient times. In the last century the scale of extraction has grown immensely. In the American Great Plains the Ogallala aquifer, equal in volume of water to L Huron and stretching from Texas to S Dakota, has been heavily used. By the late 1970s it supplied one-fifth of the USA’s irrigation needs but at the expense of draining it at c.1% per annum, ten times faster than it can recharge. Half the accumulated water had gone by 1993 and the aquifer will be dry within 20–30 years at current rates of depletion. Similar trends have occurred elsewhere. In Saudi Arabia most fresh water comes from aquifers and is often used wastefully to allow self229

groundwater | growing season

sufficiency in agriculture. Surviving sources of water have a limited life. Similarly in Libya huge aquifers beneath the Sahara are being piped to the coast to support an expansion of irrigated agriculture. Of the water needed for cities and irrigation two-thirds presently comes from aquifers. These are being depleted and in coastal areas aquifers are being invaded by salt water. Some cities are starting to subside as groundwater is removed. Bankok, Houston and Tokyo are sinking in this way (McNeill 2000). In England protection policies for groundwater and controls over its use are the result of conflicts from the late C19 over balancing exploitation against sustainable use (Cook 1999, Glennon 2002).

grouse shooting Developed in Britain in the C19 encouraged by the invention of breechloading shotguns and the spread of the railway network giving faster access to upland areas. The management of hill pastures for grouse involved encouraging the growth of heather (Calluna vulgaris) on the shoots of which young grouse feed. Careful burning of the heather in small patches provided shorter heather for food and longer heather for cover from birds of prey. Grouse shooting areas could also be grazed by sheep. Protecting the grouse involved a sustained attack by gamekeepers on predatory birds and animals leading to drastic declines in the number of many species and some extinctions. Grouse numbers could fluctuate markedly due to weather conditions and parasites. The landscape of grouse moors contained lines of shooting butts to hide the shooters, shooting huts for lunch or bad weather and lodges providing accommodation. After WW1 and again after WW2 the management of grouse moors declined and rising sheep numbers converted extensive areas of heather moors to acid grassland (Done & Muir 2001).

growing season The period of the year during which climatic conditions allow the growth of wild plants and cultivated crops. In temperate areas the key variable is seasonal changes in temperature. In tropical environments the growing season depends more on the availability of moisture. In any area soil characteristics, altitude and exposure (whether a slope faces towards or away from the sun) will act as local influences. The length of the growing season will vary from year to year with weather conditions and in the longer term with climatic change. The cooler conditions of the Little Ice Age in Europe caused growing seasons to shorten and cultivation limits to retreat downhill. 230

guano | gypsum

guano Rich in nitrogen and valued as an agricultural fertilizer in Europe in the mid-C19 it was dug from islands off the coast of Peru. Guano was so good as a fertilizer because the Humboldt Current was rich in plankton, which fed large numbers of fish which in turn fed the seabirds that produced the guano. The dry atmosphere prevented loss of nitrates, phosphates and ammonia. Guano led to wars between Chile, Bolivia and Peru 1879–83. Farmers of the Moche period, c.AD500 used it on their crops but it was not worked on a commercial scale until the 1840s. For the next 40 years this was Peru’s most lucrative export. It was a much more effective fertilizer than animal dung. Over 20 million tons were exported to the USA and Europe between 1848 and 1875. Thousands of Chinese labourers died unpleasantly in the process of extracting the guano and loading it on to ships. Taxes on guano exports provided 80% of Peru’s revenues at the peak of extraction. There was a rush to exploit other remote seabird colonies causing major falls in their populations (Cushman 2005). From 1909 conservation measures led to a recovery in bird numbers and the development of sustainable guano extraction which continued until a final collapse during ˜ o event of 1965. A combination of exhaustion of supplies and the El Nin cheaply produced artificial fertilizers also helped to kill off the trade (Fagan 1999, Skaggs 1994).

Gulf Stream Warm ocean current, part of the N Atlantic circulation, flowing from the Gulf of Mexico NE across the Atlantic, warming the E coast of the USA. A branch flows towards Europe as the N Atlantic Drift; another part, from Spain southwards, flows into equatorial waters. There have been recent concerns that the ocean circulation in the N Atlantic, and the course and strength of the Gulf Stream, has varied in the past and might change in the future with global warming.

gypsum Calcium sulphate precipitated out of solution and becoming incorporated in sediments when water in a lake evaporates in a major drought. This has been used to date droughts in the Maya heartland (Diamond 2005).


H Harappan The Indus Valley civilization, named from a Bronze Age city in NE Pakistan. Harappa and Mohenjo Daro were the two greatest cities in the culture, flourishing from c.3300–1300BC with populations of c.20,000 (Kenoyer 1998) (see Indus Valley).

Hardin, Garrett (1915–2003) American ecologist whose research has focused on population control and carrying capacity: best known for his 1965 article ‘The tragedy of the commons’.

hay Crops of grass grown for winter fodder for livestock. In medieval Europe hay meadows were more valuable per unit area than the best arable land. Animals might be grazed for a time in the early spring and again in the autumn after the hay harvest but were excluded during the summer to allow the grass to grow. Hayfields were often enclosed to protect them from livestock. The hay had to be left until it was as dry as possible. A wet summer might make the harvest problematic and could reduce the quantity and quality of the crop substantially. Hayfields were normally spread with dung and sometimes received doses of lime. They were botanically very species rich. In modern times the change from cutting grass for hay to silage, which can be cut wet and, with heavy applications of artificial fertilizer, produces much more feeding, has led to the virtual disappearance


hay | heather moorland

of traditional flower-rich meadows in many parts of W and N Europe. Surviving examples are often given statutory protection.

head dyke A substantial stone or turf wall enclosing the improved land – arable, meadow and enclosed pasture – in Scotland, N England, Wales and Ireland, in medieval and post-medieval times, dividing the inbye (improved) land from the common pasture and indicating a contrast in land tenure as well as land use. Most of the livestock were sent beyond the head dyke in summer to prevent them from damaging growing crops.

heather moorland Areas dominated by dwarf shrub hearth at relatively high altitudes. British moorlands have been described as a kind of wet desert (Simmons 2001), depleted of species and soil nutrients by centuries of burning and grazing. There has been considerable debate about the extent to which moorlands are the result of natural processes or human agency. It was a habitat which in the early Holocene had a limited distribution but which today is widespread in upland areas of the British Isles which have had their woodland cover removed and soils podsolised (becomes more acid), often with the formation of peat. Heather moorland was maintained by careful management, especially regular burning to remove older, woody heather, allowing younger more nutritions growth to develop for sheep or grouse. If left unmanaged heather moorland at lower levels is rapidly colonized by scrub woodland, especially birch and hawthorn. It is dominated by Calluna vulgaris and other species of heather on wetter ground with bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) on drier soils. Heather does not thrive in wet conditions and is more abundant in the drier E uplands of Britain. In wetter areas it shades into blanket bog where it survives mainly on drier tussocks. Heather moorland due to human agency may have started to form as early as the Mesolithic. In medieval times the practice of grazing sheep on the hills in summer but housing them in winter may have encouraged the spread of heather moorland in parts of upland Britain. It often reached its maximum extent in the mid-late C19 when it was carefully managed and burnt for grouse shooting (Done & Muir 2001). Burning needs to be done carefully so that only the surface vegetation and not the roots are affected. Burning has been done in Britain from medieval times at least. It was controlled by the Scottish Parliament which from 1424 forbade burning between the end of 233

heather moorland | heavy metals

March and harvest time, presumably to prevent the possible spread of fire to growing crops. Prolonged burning may lead to significant loss of nutrients from the ecosystem, and too severe burning to erosion and gullying. In recent decades much heather moorland has degraded to acid grassland dominated by matt grass (Nardus stricta) under pressure from overgrazing. Modern conservation initiatives are often directed at encouraging its recovery and spread. In recreational terms it has been seen as essential to preserve them for access and against encroachment by agriculture and afforestation. (Done & Muir 2001, Simmons 2003).

heathlands An environment found along the W fringes of Europe, characterized by the presence of heather and other dwarf shrubs which is likely to be related to climate as well as soil conditions. Some, in the far N and NW of Scotland, may be purely natural in origin in areas too exposed for even scrub woodland to develop. Other heathlands in S England and Denmark may have been created and maintained by fire from a previous woodland cover. Heathlands are usually on areas of sandy or gravelly acidic soils the fertility of which is soon reduced by cultivation, causing the land to be left for grazing and peat cutting for fuel. Most lowland heaths, if left ungrazed, would rapidly revert to woodland. In heathland areas reclamation for cultivation was common in periods of increased population pressure and extensive areas have been reclaimed between the C18 and C20 (Hey 2000).

heavy metals Copper, lead, zinc, nickel and mercury are highly toxic and dangerous to human health. They can remain in ecosystems for centuries entering food chains easily and becoming concentrated as they move upwards through food chains towards humans. These metals have been smelted since antiquity, copper from c.4300BC, lead from c.3500BC. Work in lead and copper smelters was often more dangerous than in the mines because of poisonous fumes. In some mining areas long flues were built from smelters to nearby hilltops to try and disperse them. Heavy metals in mining areas stayed in the soil for a long time, poisoning vegetation and killing fish in local streams. Heavy metal contamination in upland mining areas could be washed by floods into the lowlands. The use of lead in piping may have caused lead poisoning among the population of ancient Rome. Sealing early canned food with lead has been claimed to have contributed to the loss of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to the Arctic in the mid-C19 (Newell & Watts 1996, Nriagu 1996). 234

Heck cattle | Hekla

Heck cattle See auroch.

hedgerow dating A technique developed by Pollard & Hooper (1974) to determine the approximate age of hedges. In a simplified form it suggests that the age of a hedge equalled the number of woody species in sample 30-yard stretches times 100. The assumption was that single-species hedges acquired new species at the average rate of one per century. This theory was supposedly substantiated by species counts on hedges whose creation could be dated from documents. There are problems with which species are counted as ‘woody’ and there is an underlying assumption that hedges were originally planted with single species. More recent research has suggested that soil variations are as significant as age in accounting for the variety of woody species in hedges (Barnes & Williamson 2006, Muir 1996, Pollard & Hooper 1974).

hedgerows In medieval times in Britain many fences were ‘dry hedges’ of posts and cut branches. Living or ‘quick’ hedges are normal today. They formed the boundaries of medieval fields and enclosures especially in ancient countryside. Some hedges may have originated as narrow strips of wildwood left along boundaries, with a wide range of plant species. Others may have grown up spontaneously on waste land left on boundaries. During the era of parliamentary enclosure c.321,870 km of hedges were planted in England. In W Europe in recent decades there has been largescale removal of hedgerows in the interests of mechanized farming, sometimes encouraged by government grants, as with remembrement in France. Many hedges are no longer managed due to lack of labour; eventually gaps develop, shrubs die off and only a scattered line of trees remains. In 1946–7 in England and Wales there were 1.28 million km of hedgerows: by 1985 this had fallen to 992,000 km (Shoard 1980).

Hekla Icelandic volcano which has erupted 23 times since the Althing (Icelandic parliament) was founded in AD930. Major eruptions have affected Iceland 4–5 times a century since the C10. An eruption in 1850BC was responsible for depositing in Caithness 1 million shards of tephra for every m3 of peat. 235

Hekla | high farming

A sharp retreat of limits of Scot pine (Pinus sylvestris) may have been due to acid deposition or a short, sharp cooling phase caused by an eruption from Hekla (Blackford et al. 1992). The volcano erupted in AD1104 after a long period of quiescence, destroying extensive areas of farmland in Iceland. An enormous eruption in 1693 covered 22,000 km2 of land in tephra destroying or damaging 55 farms (Ba´rdarson 1991).

henges Late Neolithic (c3500–2500BC. ritual monuments. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for ‘hanging’, referring to the trilithons of Stonehenge, the least typical of all henges. Most comprise circular or oval banks with an inner ditch in most cases and one or two prominent entrances. They vary greatly in size from massive examples like Avebury to modest earthworks. Their functions may have included secular as well as ritual activities.

Hetch Hetchy A valley in Yosemite National Park, USA c.250 km from San Francisco. In 1901 the city authorities applied for permission to build a reservoir there for water supply. President Theodore Roosevelt eventually agreed despite opposition from John Muir and the Sierra Club in a 12-year campaign which marked the split between conservationists favouring preservation and more practical, realistic approaches.

Heyerdahl, Thor (1914–2002) Norwegian explorer and ethnographer. To show that it was possible for people from S America to have voyaged to the Pacific islands he built a balsa wood raft, the Kon Tiki, and in 1947 sailed 6,000 km across the Pacific. His theories of Polynesian origins did not find widespread support from anthropologists and archaeologists.

high farming A period in mid-C19 Britain when favourable prices for agricultural products stimulated investment in agricultural improvement such as enclosure, under-soil drainage, scientific breeding of livestock and mechanization. The level of reinvestment of profits in further agricultural improvement was often out of all proportion to the productivity gain.


Highland Clearances

Highland Clearances The eviction of people by large landowners in the Scottish Highlands from the late C18 to the mid-C19 in order to replace small-scale, mixed subsistence farming by supposedly more profitable commercial sheep farms. The existing population of small tenants sublet their holdings from tacksmen or middlemen, cultivating areas on valley floors and grazing livestock at summer sheilings. Rising population from the mid-C18 put this system under pressure. The belief that large-scale commercial sheep farming would generate substantially greater income was assumed rather than proven. The old and new farming systems were incompatible as the sheep needed valley floor winter grazings in the area occupied by the existing arable. Nor could small tenants convert to sheep farming because this had to be done on a large scale to be commercially viable. The solution for landowners was to evict their tenants from their farms in the interior glens and re-settle them. The first clearances occurred in the S Highlands in the later C18 and it was relatively easy for displaced tenants to move to nearby Lowland manufacturing villages and towns. At the end of the C18 and early C19 clearances spread to the far N and W Highlands; families were resettled on the coast where it was hoped that they could combine crofting with part-time industrial work or fishing. This was easier to accomplish in theory than in practice. The land allocated for crofts was often poor. It was hard to turn farmers who had never seen the sea into fishermen; harder still to raise the capital needed to buy and equip fishing boats. Landowners did not intend to be hardhearted but their policies were sometimes implemented with insensitivity, even cruelty. Clearances on the Duke of Sutherland’s estates were especially notorious: tenants who were slow to leave their homes had them burnt. The Linton (blackfaced) sheep was introduced from the Scottish Borders and the new farms leased to farmers from that area. Overgrazing led to a deterioration of the pastures with loss of biodiversity and, in some areas, serious erosion. Many dispossessed tenants, cleared to the coast, subsequently moved to the Lowlands or emigrated to N America. A number of the planned villages in the Highlands, like Helmsdale in Sutherland, were designed to house cleared tenants. Elsewhere they occupied crofts, sometimes grouped into large townships with regular strip layouts along a central road. By the midC19 tenants sometimes agreed to leave their estates entirely and emigrate as a group to Canada.


Highland Clearances | Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

Sheep farming failed to generate the hoped-for profits and when prices fell in the mid-C19 many sheep farms were converted to deer forest to maximize sporting income. The remains of settlements occupied by the original population can be seen in their thousands in glens throughout the Highlands, forming one of the most distinctive and evocative elements in the Scottish landscape. Sometimes the better-built cottages of the shepherds who replaced the original tenants stand abandoned and roofless beside them. The policies of Highland landowners have been portrayed by Scottish socialists and nationalists as crimes against the Scottish people (Richards 1982, 1985, Youngson 1973). (See Scotland.)

hillforts Associated with later prehistory over extensive areas of W and Central Europe. Some sites, like Hambledon Hill, Dorset, England, had defences on a large scale as early as 3500BC. Sites in the later Bronze Age which were defended by simple wooden palisades developed into true hillforts in the Iron Age. Many smaller forts probably protected a single extended family but larger ones with areas inside the ramparts of 8–16 ha may have been proto-towns. The development of hillforts may have been linked, in N Britain, with a deteriorating climate from c.1200BC and population growth putting pressure on resources. In Britain ramparts of earth or stone faced with timber, supported by a wooden framework, gave way to more massive dump ramparts. Over time the numbers of concentric sets of defences increased at many sites, with elaborately defended gateways, as at Maiden Castle and Danebury. The territories rules by individual forts can often be established approximately. Some ‘forts’ in high, bleak locations, such as Ingleborough in N Yorkshire and Carrock Fell in Cumbria, have been reinterpreted as Neoliothic ritual sites. Despite impressive defences many forts did not have an internal water supply. Their defences may have been for show rather than utility.

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) Pink-flowered annual plant native to the Himalayas: grows to 2–3 m high. The seed pods, when ready, explode scattering seed up to 7 m. Introduced to Britain in 1839, escaped and now naturalized. Widely established in the UK and USA, often as an invasive weed, choking streams. Its aggressive colonizing is often tackled by savage cutting.


Himalayas | Historical Environment Record

Himalayas Literally ‘the realm of snow’, the highest mountain area in the world: 2,500 km long and 250 km wide spanning several states with an economy based on logging, agriculture and, increasingly, tourism. An area of fragile ecosystems, great biodiversity and a dense but poor population. Environmental problems have included deforestation which began in the 1770s in some areas, reaching a peak between c.1890 and c.1930. Other problems included smelting of iron and copper, growing pollution, soil erosion and landslides (Kohli & Bali 2000). Population growth has been rapid in the C20. Nepal in recent decades has had a growth rate of 2.6% per annum, producing one of the highest densities of any mountain area. This has led to an expansion of agriculture on marginal ground as well as forest clearance. Wood is also widely used as fuel and leaves for fodder. Deforestation in the foothills and middle Himalayas with overgrazing of the pastures above has led to massive soil erosion and consequent deposition in the valleys and lowlands, sometimes burying fertile arable land. Deforestation and erosion also cause landslides and accelerated runoff leading to floods. In recent decades the growth of tourism (nearly 1 million visitors a year) and trekking and climbing holidays have caused a proliferation of new access roads, pressure on local ecosystems and accumulation of rubbish. Nepal in particular has been seen as on the edge of ecological collapse, having lost half its forest cover in a single decade. Until recently there has been a lack of detailed monitoring of Himalayan glaciers, the greatest concentration of land ice on earth outside polar areas, but a general trend towards melting, with retreat of 10–15 m a year in some cases, has been identified. The Khumbu Glacier near Mount Everest has retreated over 4 km since 1953. There have been concerns that the overflowing of glacial lakes may cause serious flash flooding in the shorter term while loss of water into major rivers of Asia, such as the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze and Yellow rivers, will lead to droughts in the longer term. There have been recent concerns that large-scale air pollution from S and SE Asian industry may be accelerating the melting of the ice.

Historical Environment Record (HER – formerly Sites and Monuments Record) A computerised database held and maintained by local authorities in England and Wales, covering all known archaeological sites. Variable in detail and quality from site to site; some are identified only from aerial


Historical Environment Record | Hohokam

photographs and in many cases the dates and functions given are speculative rather than proven.

historical landscape characterization A process by which each plot or unit in a landscape is classified in terms of the period in which it was created and its resulting visual characteristics. In England the technique has been developed at a county level, first in Cornwall and then over the rest of the country. Similar approaches, sometimes at a more broad-brush level, have been adopted elsewhere in Britain and W Europe. Modern HLC exercises are GIS-based. English Heritage has provided funding for county surveys but there has been a lack of standardization of the detail of the categories and approaches used. Because of the time and expense involved in field survey, the approach has been mainly desk-based using old maps, aerial photographs and other easily accessible datasets. HLC surveys provide a potentially powerful tool for landscape planners as well as academic research. They have become essential for manipulating data and representing knowledge of landscapes and landscape change but they also reduce the subtlety and complexity of landscape to simplistic lines on a map. Landscapes may be complex and multi-period but can only be recorded in one category on HLC maps. Planners tend to take such maps as definitive final statements rather than interim ones (Austin & Stamper 2006, Rippon 2004).

Hohokam Inhabitants of S deserts of American SW in Arizona c.AD400–1500. The name means ‘those who have gone’. They differed from the Anasazi in the character of their settlements. It is not clear if their rise was an indigenous development or due to the migration of outsiders c.AD350–775, the ‘Pioneer Period’. A site at Snaketown on the Gila River had hundreds of houses, the inhabitants of which probably practised dry farming of maize, but by the end of the Pioneer Period they were using irrigation. In the Colonial Period (AD775–975) and the Sedentary Period (AD975–1150) irrigation systems expanded. Their main canal was 20 km long, 15 m deep and 25 m wide, with hundreds of km of secondary canals leading off. In the Classic Period (AD1150–1350) large ceremonial sites were developed. Hohokam settlements were locally self-sufficient, not regionally integrated with road systems like those of Chaco Canyon. The system disintegrated after AD1100 and irrigation systems were progressively abandoned. By the early C15 the Hohokam had vanished (Fagan 1991). 240

Holocene | Hong Kong

Holocene From the Greek holos meaning ‘recent’– the present warm epoch within the Quaternary, period beginning c.11,550 kya at the end of the Younger Dryas. It has been marked by warm spells, notably the Holocene climatic optimum 6.2–5.3 kya and the medieval optimum, as well as cold phases such as the Little Ice Age. In the early part of the Holocene the rate of temperature rise in Britain may have been as much as 2.8– C per century. By c.9500BP winter and summer temperatures were similar to those of today. The mean January temperature rose from 1– C at 10000BP to 5– C by 9000BP. The mean July temperatures rose from 16– C to 18– C over the same period (present levels are 4– C in January and 17– C in July) (Roberts 1989). The Holocene was formerly viewed as a period of environmental stability following the fluctuations of the Pleistocene, especially with regard to climate. More sophisticated dating and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction techniques have, however, demonstrated that the last 12,000 years have been characterized by significant climatic fluctuations, not all due solely to human activity.

Holocene climatic globalization (Hypsithermal), occurring c.7500–4500BP during the Mesolithic and early Neolithic periods in NW Europe. Average annual temperatures were c.1– 2– C higher than today. The dating of this period in the Antarctic is between 11000BP and 8000BP and in the Arctic between 5000BP and 4000BP.

Hong Kong

With an area of only 1,076 km2 and a population of c.7 million in 2008, rapid economic growth and urban development since British occupation from 1842 has led to serious pollution problems due to the discharge of sewage and untreated waste into streams and the sea with serious effects on local marine life. Air pollution is also a notorious problem with increasing numbers of cases of asthma and bronchial infections. The urban heat island leads to increasing use of air conditioning systems. Free flow of air is interrupted by tall tower blocks located to give the best views rather than in relation to aerodynamics. Cyclones are common in summer and landslides are frequent after heavy rain. In 1991 the former colony was handed back to the People’s Republic of China. 241

horsegram | Huaynaputina

horsegram A bean (Macrotyloma uniflorum) widely grown in S India using dry-land agriculture.

horses One of the most important domesticated animals for agriculture, transport and war. Probably first domesticated in a number of places in prehistoric Eurasia including the steppes of the Ukraine and Turkestan. They were pulling carts by 2600BC, being ridden from c.2000BC and harnessed to chariots in Egypt by 1800BC. The stirrup was developed in China c.AD500, reaching Europe c.AD700 and causing a military revolution. The horse collar, which did not choke them, was developed in the C9 (C12?) improving their draught power four- or fivefold and allowing them to play a major role in tillage and transport for the first time. As late as the C16–17AD wild horses were still found in the Vosges, the Alps and NW Germany.

Hoskins, W.G. (1909–92) Probably the most influential British academic in creating and popularising the discipline of landscape history, especially through his classic The Making of the English Landscape (1955), widely admired for its lyrical prose as well as its novel approach to history. Although never revised by the author the text is still in print and often quoted although many of Hoskins’ ideas have been substantially revised by more recent research. Hoskins greatly underestimated the size of prehistoric populations and their contribution to environmental change, especially woodland clearance. The contribution of the Anglo Saxons to deforestation and settlement has been correspondingly downweighted. There has been criticism of Hoskins’ work as being too empirical and anecdotal, full of bias towards certain areas and periods, heavily influenced by Romantic literature (Johnson 2006) but his contribution has also been stoutly defended (Fleming 2007, Taylor 2005).

Huaynaputina Volcano in S Peru. Between 16 February and 5 March 1600 a major eruption occurred, the largest in historic times in the Andes, and one of the largest in the world in the last 1,000 years. Ash fell up to 120 km away over 300,000 km2. At least 10,000 people were killed. Lava and ash blocked rivers and caused deep lakes. Thousands of acres of farmland were damaged. The eruption was on a similar scale to Krakatau 1883 and Mt Pinatubo in 242

Huaynaputina | Hudson’s Bay Company

the Philippines 1991. Twice as much dust was ejected into the upper atmosphere as the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and 75% of that of Mount Tambora in 1815. This was probably the greatest sulphur-producing volcano of the Little Ice Age, with records of acid fallout as far away as Greenland and the S Pole. The acid spike in the Greenland ice cores was greater than the one for Krauakau. The summer of 1601 was the coldest since 1400 throughout the N hemisphere, one of the coldest in the previous 1,600 years in Scandinavia and N America with the coldest summer in 400 years (De Silva & Zeilinski 1998, Fagan 2001).

Hudson River NE USA. Discovered by Henry Hudson in 1609 and settled by Dutch colonists in the C17. With its source in the Adirondacks, running over 500 km to New York between the Catskill Mountains to the W and the Taconic Mountains to the E, this was one of the most heavily used commercial routes in the USA in the late C18 and early C19. The Hudson, its tributary the Mohawk and from 1825 the Erie Canal was the only navigable route through the Appalachians. The Hudson valley also generated America’s first school of landscape painting which an impact not unlike that of the English artists on perceptions of the Lake District. From 1825, when Thomas Cole (1801–48) began painting the landscapes of the valley, the Hudson River School, which also included Albert Bierstad, Frederic Church and Asher Durand, lasted until the 1870s. These artists celebrated the wildness of the American landscapes, as did writers like Washington Irvine and James Fenimore Cooper. The area was not, however, wilderness. By the 1830s most of the forests in the area had been cut, steamboats were operating on the river and the Catskills were a busy landscape of logging, tanning and mining. Cole and other artists overlooked or painted out the industrial eyesores, applying European conventions in landscape painting to the American environment. The popularity of the School’s works promoted tourism and the construction of hotels for wealthy visitors creating the first tourist focus in the USA (Boyle 1979, Cooper 1999, Howat 1987, O’Brien 1981).

Hudson’s Bay Company Established by English royal charter in 1670 and at one time the largest landowner in the world the company owned land from Baffin Island to the Rockies, with its headquarters at York Factory on Hudson’s Bay. It controlled the fur trade over a huge area of N America. When the trade 243

Hudson’s Bay Company | hunters and hunter-gatherers

declined the company went into retailing through its widely spread trading posts. Many of its posts, such as Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, became cities. Its archives, at Winnipeg, provide a wealth of data on the environmental history of Canada (Newman 2002, Wynn 2007). Records of the Hudson’s Bay Company contain data on past weather and sea ice conditions for Arctic Canada from the mid-C18 onwards (Ball 1992, Catchpole 1992). The ’company’s ships followed regular sailing routes from England to the Hudson Strait at the same time each year, to fit in with the short ice-free season. Ships’ logs, kept in a standardized format from 1751, provide details of sea ice conditions from year to year. By relating modern sea ice conditions to climate data it is possible to make inferences about past atmospheric circulation patterns and temperature conditions. Records from the ’company’s trading posts also contain a wealth of weather-related data, such as the annual dates of the freezing and thawing of the Red River at Winnipeg and the date of arrival of migratory geese in spring, together with direct weather observations such as the onset of spring thaws and autumn snows. Using such data the start of the modern warm period in the late C19 is clearly discernible (Ball 1983, Bradley & Jones 1992, Catchpole & Faurer 1983, Newman 2002, Rannie 1983, Wynn 2007).

human origins and dispersals Homo sapiens first appeared c.250,000 years ago, evolving in Africa and then spreading out over the world replacing indigenous hominids there including Neanderthals in Europe. The differences which characterize modern human populations only developed in the last 100,000 years or so (Stringer & McKie 1998).

Humboldt, Alexander von (1769–1859) German physical geographer who laid the foundations of the study of biogeography. Between 1799 and 1804 he travelled widely in central and S America, exploring, describing and quantifying the features of the environments he encountered. His observations and analyses were published in 30 volumes and he was considered by Darwin as ‘the greatest scientific traveller who ever lived’.

hunters and hunter-gatherers Hunting and gathering, although it has virtually disappeared was, in terms of the timespan which it dominated, the most successful and flexible way of 244

hunters and hunter-gatherers

life devised by humans, spanning 99% of human history as well as being the least damaging to natural ecosystems. Today hunters survive in small pockets but in a great diversity of mainly marginal ecosystems. In 14000BC everyone was a hunter-gatherer. Numbering under 100, hunting bands often moved between seasonal camps and specialist sites such as butchery and industrial sites although recent discoveries at Star Carr, Yorkshire, England suggest that more permanent sedentary lifestyles were possible. By AD1500 they still occupied one-third of the earth’s surface. They were successful in colonizing most habitats using a wide range of strategies. Although able to gain a reasonable diet without the hard labour of agriculture they were increasingly pushed into marginal areas by farmers (Lee & Daly 1999, Panter-Brick et al. 2001). They were capable of causing environmental changes deliberately as well as accidentally. Hunter-gatherer lifestyles provided lots of free time for leisure and ceremonial activities. The density of hunter-gatherers was one per 26 km2 for the world as a whole but as low as one per 250 km2 for the interior of Australia. Their highest density occurred in areas like the W coast of the USA, with lower densities in boreal forests. Most societies existed in numbers well below the carrying capacity of their environments – around 20–60% of the maximum – to cope with fluctuations in food supply (Bicchiere 1972, Frison 1991). Recent and near-recent hunter-gatherer societies were never completely specialized in terms of food; they always had subsidiary foods as a fallback. Hunting dominated N of 60– , fishing between 40– and 59– , and collecting plants between the equator and 39– (Clark & Harris 1985, Megaw 1977, Simmons 1996a). There has been considerable debate on the environmental impact of hunters and hunter-gatherers: did they manage their environment carefully to conserve game or were there not enough of them to cause environmental change? Early hunting has been blamed for megafauna extinctions in the Americas and elsewhere. In some environments their main ecological impact may have been through the use of fire. Other groups, like the Inuit of the Arctic and the inhabitants of African savannas, do not seem to have affected herbivore numbers. Relatively little is known about the subsistence patterns of huntergatherers. Peterson’s (1986) research on Australian aborigines has shown that their social organization involved both bands and clans. Bands lived and travelled together within an identified foraging area or range within which the size of the band related to the carrying capacity of the land. Clans were descent groups with rights in property or resources. The band was the real group on the ground while the clan rarely met together. Bands varied in size according to season: large when resources were limited forcing a 245

hunters and hunter-gatherers | hurricanes

concentration on limited reaources, smaller when conditions were better allowing people to spread out.

Huntingdon, Ellsworth (1876–1947) US geographer who showed how climate was an important influence on human behaviour but who was over-deterministic in suggesting the correlation between the stimulating climate of W Europe and the NE USA and high civilization (Simmons 1996a, Martin 1973a).

Hurricane Katrina See New Orleans.

hurricanes The name is thought to derive from the Mayan god Hurakan who created land by blowing across the sea. The W Pacific equivalent, typhoon, comes from the Mandarin for ‘great wind’. These are tropical storms caused by intense low-pressure atmospheric systems with winds of over 140 km/hr and c.650 km across and intense rainfall. They develop over oceans with temperatures of 27– C or more with very strong winds and heavy precipitation. The hurricane season in the N hemisphere is between July and October with a peak in August and September. Hurricane tracks can be variable although the general course in the N hemisphere is W and away from the equator. Once a hurricane travels outside the area of hot tropical seas it weakens, especially over land where there is no moisture to nourish it. Hurricanes which travel over land can be reinvigorated if they swing out to sea again. Damage associated with hurricanes is caused by wind and especially by the associated storm surge. In 1900 Galveston, Texas, the third largest port in the USA, was hit by a hurricane and 10–12,000 died, the worst natural disaster to hit America up to that time: the town has never fully recovered. Perez (2001) has studied for C19 Cuba the impact on politics, society and culture of hurricanes which tended to accelerate or decelerate social and economic processes already taking place. Mulcahy (2006) considered how C17 and C18 colonists in the British Caribbean interpreted hurricane disasters and what impacts they had on plantation economies and slave societies as well as the adjustments which people made to the threat such as modifying house construction techniques. On average c.15,000 people are killed each year globally by hurricanes. 246

hushing | hydro-electric power (HEP)

hushing A technique of prospecting for metallic ores, known to the Romans and used by them in Wales for extracting gold. It involved creating an artificial reservoir at the top of a slope, then breaching the dam to release a flood of water down the hillside, The flood (repeated if necessary) stripped away soil and subsoil to reveal bedrock in the bottom of a gully. This could then be searched for mineral veins. In areas like the Yorkshire Dales, England hushing has caused large-scale gullying, erosion and stream pollution. It was also used for washing limestone boulders out of glacial drift to burn in limekilns (Johnson 2010).

Hutton, James (1726–97) In 1785 James Hutton first published his Theory of the Earth in which he developed the idea of continuous, slow cycles of change operating over what were then unimaginably long time-spans. He suggested that land was gradually uplifted from the oceans to form mountain ranges. Weathering and erosion then gradually reduced these to areas of low relief, the sediments deposited in the sea eventually forming rocks which would in due course be uplifted in turn. He described this cycle of processes as having ‘no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end’ and was a firm believer in the ides of uniformitarianism; that the past can be fully understood in terms of the processes operating at the present. The geological timescales which he envisaged were far greater than those accepted by most of his contemporaries. Although not relating directly to environmental history Hutton’s ideas focused on the continuous nature of geological change, an approach which could be applied on shorter timescales.

hydro-electric power (HEP) Electricity generated by a flow of water passing through a turbine, usually at a dam though sometimes utilizing the flow of a major river. Today it is the world’s largest renewable energy source. Water was first used to generate electricity in Wisconsin in 1852. The first schemes were developed in the USA, Canada, Australia and Chile in the 1880s. Italy and Switzerland followed in the 1890s. In Scotland early generation was linked to aluminium smelting at Foyers from 1895 and Kinlochleven from 1909. Today hydro-electric power produces 20% of global electricity making it the world’s largest renewable energy source. The environmental and landscape impacts of hydro-electric schemes can be considerable. Developments may 247

hydro-electric power (HEP) | hydrograph

require the creation of major dams (the Hoover Dam, which started generating power in 1937, is visible from space) and reservoirs, affecting streamflow, fluvial processes and freshwater ecology. In any area there is a finite limit to the amount of energy that can feasibly be generated (Lea 1968) (see dams).

hydrograph A graph of the discharge of a river over a period of time. A flood hydrograph measures the build-up, peak and fall of a flood.


I ice cores Ice cores extracted from the centres of stable ice caps, such as those of Greenland or Antarctica, can provide environmental information with an annual time resolution. Each year’s accumulated snow forms a layer which traps within it a range of environmental information including temperature, measured by the amount of the isotope oxygen-18 which varies directly with air temperature, or the presence of peaks of acidity caused by volcanic eruptions. Some ice core sequences extend back to the last interglacial but identification of individual layers of accumulation is not always precise and becomes more difficult with increasing depth, sometimes having to be estimated rather than directly counted. Variations in oxygen isotope levels between ice layers can be used to date individual layers as well as providing a year-to-year plot of climatic variation throughout the post-glacial period. The technique was pioneered in Greenland, where heavy snowfall allows annual layers to be distinguished relatively easily but it has since been extended to the Antarctic and to smaller ice caps and glaciers in areas like those in the Andes and New Zealand. One feature of these studies has been to show that the postmedieval Little Ice Age was not just a European phenomenon but occurred worldwide. Cores show changes in temperature, the amount of snow falling year by year, variations in the amount of dirt from lower latitudes, fallout from major eruptions, variations in solar activity and the chemical composition of trapped air bubbles. The American Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP2) which began to produce results from the 1990s drilled over 3,000m down to bedrock in the Summit area of central Greenland (Groves et al. 1988). The European Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) 249

ice cores | Iceland

reached a similar depth at a site 30 km away. In Antarctica the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) has recorded variations over the past 730 kya and eight ice ages. Varying levels of salt in the Greenland cores indicate storminess or quiescence in the N Atlantic over the last 12,000 years. There has been an overall decline in storminess over the last 10,000 years but the last 600 years have been one of the worst periods. The identification of sharp, short-term fluctuations as well as slower, long-term trends holds the possibility of linking climate more closely to events in human societies (Petit et al. 1999).

ice-albedo feedback mechanism A build-up of snow and ice, beyond a certain key threshold, increases the albedo or reflectivity of the land surface so that more solar radiation is reflected back. This causes temperatures to fall further, so expanding the area covered by snow and ice and so on until an ice age is initiated.

icebergs Large pieces of floating glacier ice (not sea ice) rising more than 5 m above sea level with 80–90% of their mass below water. The Antarctic ice shelves produce large flat icebergs: ones from Greenland are more jagged. Antarctic icebergs rarely get into the shipping lanes to cause hazards to navigation as they lie too far to the N but the Greenland and Alaskan ones do, most famously in the case of the Titanic in 1912.

Iceland Ecologically the most heavily damaged country in Europe (Maizels & Caseldine 1991). Most of the native woodland, initially covering around a quarter of the country, and over half the soils, have been destroyed. Large areas that were green when the Norse arrived in the late C9 are now lifeless brown desert. Settlement began c.AD870 and was largely completed by AD930 when most of the land suitable for farming had been claimed. When the Norse settlement began the lowlands were mostly covered in low birch and willow forests. The climate was mild enough for barley to be grown in the S and the volcanic soils were fertile. They were also fragile though, unlike the more robust ones of Norway and Britain; they formed more slowly and eroded much faster and were especially vulnerable to windblow. The settlers tried to recreate the farming systems they had been used to in Norway and Britain. Hunting soon wiped out walruses and depleted seabird 250

Iceland | improvement

colonies, so fish became the main source of protein. Woodland was cleared for pasture, timber, firewood and charcoal within a few decades. Once cleared grazing by sheep and rooting by pigs prevented regeneration. The natural pastures above the woodlands were also very attractive but here the vegetation grew even more slowly and the threat of windblow and gullying was greater. Irish monk Dicuil c.AD825 wrote that in Iceland there was no sea ice along the S coast but that it occurred a day’s sail from the N coast, similar to the C20. From the early C13 ships sailing between Iceland and Greenland began to experience trouble with summer Arctic sea ice pushing further S. From the later C14 the climate cooled with the start of the Little Ice Age: ice drifted close to the N coast in summer and polar bears came ashore. As the climate became cooler during the late Middle Ages cultivation of cereals ceased alhough in the C15 the cod fishery brought some prosperity. From medieval times onwards Iceland suffered from epidemic diseases of which the Black Death (1349) was only the first (Hastrup 1985). In 1703 a census recorded a population of c.50,000 of which one-fifth were beggars. By 1709 a smallpox epidemic had reduced this to c.35,000. Cool, wet summers brought crop failures and starvation. Glaciers advanced, to reach a maximum in the C19. There was also periodic damage from volcanic eruptions: Hekla in 1300, 1341 and 1389 and in 1783 Laki, one of the greatest environmental disasters on record with 14 km3 of lava being ejected. The result was that hald the livestock on the island died and one-quarter of the population perished. The economy and society of Iceland began to recover only from the C19. (Amorosi et al. 1997a, Buckland et al. 1995, Byock 2002, Dugmore et al. 2000, Gerrard 1991, Olafsdottir & Gudmundsson 2002, Sveinbjarnadottir et al. 1982, 1991, Thorarinsson 1961, Valsson 2003, Ve´steinsson, 1998, 2000, Wyatt 2004).

iconography The study of how images of landscapes, environments and places can reveal symbolic meanings (Cosgrove & Daniels 1988).

improvement A term much used in C18 and C19 Britain relating to the countryside in various contexts. In its economic dimensions it meant the raising of agricultural productivity through the enclosure of open fields and waste, new crops, better rotations, improved breeds of livestock, new manures and fertilizers, better tools and implements. In social terms it involved the 251

improvement | India and South Asia

removal of peasant smallholders and their replacement by large commercially oriented farms worked by wage labour. Parliamentary enclosure involved both economic and social improvement. It also had an aesthetic aspect: a Capability Brown landscape park around a neo-classical country house was a visual improvement to the landscape (Daniels & Seymour 1990).

inbye land In N England the improved land (arable, meadow and permanent pasture) located within the head dyke, which divided it from the waste or common pasture. Often limited in extent but crucial for a farm’s viability (Winchester 2000).

Incas Originating in the C12, emerging from decline of the Tiwanaku civilization, the Inca empire was short lived, its peak spanning only c.100 years. It rose around Cuzco, Peru, and spread N to Equador and S to Bolivia, extending into upland areas using well-engineered irrigation systems to grow a range of crops including tomatoes, cotton, potatoes and coca with widespread use of terracing which reduced erosion. 22,000 km of roads and caravans of llamas bound the empire together, spanning coast, mountain and rain forest. The Incas seem to have benefitted from a warm spell between c.AD1100 and AD1500 which allowed extensive clearance of mountain land for terraced agriculture (McEwan 2006).

India and South Asia Population AD1600 c.114 million, 1900 240 million and today c.1 billion, still growing at 1.8% per annum. Contains huge contrasts in environments, habitats and terrain, major inequalities in society and, as a result, major environmental problems. There is a well-developed historiography of the environmental history of India, preoccupied with forest history, irrigation and water management, and the impact of British imperialism, the story of the peasant versus the colonial and post-colonial State. The British first took control over Bengal province in 1757. Demands for timber for the navy led to the annexation of forests in the early C19. By 1900 one-fifth of India was administered by foresters. The British built over 90,000 km of canals and were huge users of groundwater. The creation of irrigation systems in the C19 caused problems with soil salinization 252

India and South Asia

and increased malaria. Dam construction has been a problem with over 100,000 people being displaced by projects like the Narmada River scheme in central India. Pre-colonial regimes in S Asia neglected agriculturally unproductive lands (Prasad 1999). The colonial state changed this, affecting sedentary farmers who had relied on these environments for augmenting subsistence agriculture and especially those who survived mainly by using the resources of marginal areas by pastoralism, hunting, gathering and swidden agriculture. (Arnold & Guha 1995, Baviskara 1995, Bayly 1988, Gadgil & Guha 1997, Grove et al. 1988, Guha 2000, Guha & Arnold 1998, Guha & Gadgil 1989, 1992, Preze et al. 1977, Rangarajan 1996a, 1996b, Singh 1987, Sivaramakrishnan 2000, Skaria 1999, Yang 1989). The Islamic Mughal Empire was, in the C17AD, succeeded only by Qing Dynasty China in population and extent. From the C7AD for 1000 years the empire grew by military conquest reaching its peak in the C16 to early C17. By 1690 it covered 3.2 million km2 covering all of India apart from the S tip. The Mughal emperors developed an efficient bureaucracy with a land tax system representing a share in the produce extracted from every farmer. Cadastral (ownership) surveys and land use records, which also measured the extent of irrigated land, allowed people’s assessments to be calculated: around one-third of basic food crops (rice, wheat, millet) and one-fifth of cash crops like tobacco and sugar was levied. The Empire’s environmental impacts were mainly through pressures to expand cultivation and settlement. In the mid-C16 the Indo-Gangetic plain was by no means fully settled and cultivated with wide areas of forest populated by hunter-gatherers. The most striking frontier expansion from this period was in the Bengal delta (now Bangladesh), the modern, intensely settled wet-rice landscape of which is a relatively recent creation. This was an environment characterized by change with alluvial deposits extending the land area into the Bay of Bengal and the course of the Ganges shifting naturally to the E by hundreds of km. Until the end of the C16 much of E Bengal was covered with tropical rain forest and marsh with scattered populations practising shifting cultivation. The settlement of coastal areas like the Sundarbans was delayed by rebel raiding but then expanded steadily with rice paddies replacing marshlands into the late C19 (Richards 1993, 2006). During the C18 the Mughal Empire began to fragment, a situation exploited first by the French then by the British. From the mid-C18 to the mid-C19 India was developed on a colonial basis first by the British East India Company then by the British imperial administration. British rule 253

India and South Asia

over such a large indigenous population was unprecedented in its history of colonial expansion. India’s economy was kept subservient to that of Britain, as a producer of foodstuffs and raw materials like cotton and jute and a consumer of British manufactures – cotton cloth, heavy engineering. From the mid-C19 India was transformed by the construction of an extensive railway and telegraph network which united scattered provinces economically and politically, promoting commercial agriculture, as did the extension of irrigation systems, especially in the Punjab. The 800 km long Ganges canal allowed a major extension of irrigated crop production though an unforeseen side-effect was the growing salinization of soils. The railways were also important in preventing famines. The second half of the C19 was also a period of urban growth and restructuring. After the Indian Mutiny (1857–8) European civilians lived increasingly within clearly defined ‘civil lines’, often created by removing existing villages, with low density residential developments, close to the military ‘cantonments’ and well away from the crowded, disease-ridden city centres. During the summer those Europeans who could afford to moved inland and upwards to hill stations like Simla, Darjeeling and Poona, designed to resemble England as far as possible with English garden landscapes, flowers and trees (Kenny 1995). Between the 1770s and 1850s the British extended their rule over India until about two-thirds of the land was administered by them directly, the rest being under the autonomous rule of 500 indigenous aristocratic families, the ‘Native Princes’. Between 1890 and 1970 over 30 million ha were converted to arable. Preference, until after independence, was to increase the area of arable rather than output per unit area. In the C19 coffee and tea were the main plantation export crops, grown largely in the NE such as the hill areas of Assam. After 1833 the E India Company’s new charter allowed foreigners to buy rural land in India. European tea planters bought large areas of hill land in Assam and N Bengal. By 1871 they owned 280,000 ha. By 1900 there were 764 plantations there. Prosperity continued until the 1930s and again after WW2. In the 1920s and 1930s population, previously checked by disease, grew steadily with improved public health facilities and there were increasing problems with soil exhaustion. The focus on producing commercial crops led to shortage of basic foodstuffs. These pressures plus administrative failings led to a major famine in Bengal in 1943 in which 2 million people may have died. Following independence five-year economic plans during the 1950s produced major increases in agricultural output (Metcalf & Metcalf 2002). 254

India and South Asia | Indus Valley

The 5-year plans also resulted in the construction of huge dams and irrigation schemes which have transformed the environment and displaced at least 5 million people. In the Narmada region alone two super-dams and 30 other major ones were among the super projects; the Dardar Sadovar dam submerged 37,000 ha of land in three states, displacing 150,000 people but leading to the construction of 75,000 km of irrigation channels (Chadha 1999). The Indus was the first great C20 river basin project. The Indus is 5,000 km long with a flow twice that of the Nile. The scheme to tame it began in 1895 under colonial rule with the reconstruction of some of the dams built by the Moghuls allowing an increase in the irrigated area. By 1947 c.1.4 million ha had been irrigated, the largest expansion of farmland in the history of British India. There were, inevitably, problems of salinization and falling crop yields. On the Ganges the British repaired and extended earlier Moghul dams. By the 1990s India had 45–50 million ha of irrigated land, one-fifth of the world’s total. After independence more dams were built for generating hydro-electric power. Between 1947 and 1992 c.20 million people were displaced by dam schemes and reservoirs. Few schemes were as successful as was initially expected either in terms of HEP generation or irrigation due to silting, while some schemes actually promoted malaria (McNeill 2000).There was a conflict between local knowledge based on traditional warning systems of flooding and mobility and colonial engineers who had a technological mentality (Wells 2006). The Indian Forest Service became an elite organization managing nearly one-third of India in the late C19 (Hannam 2000).

Indus Valley Settled by migrant farmers from SW Asia by c.3500BC growing wheat, barley, melons, dates, sheep, goats and some cattle. As with Egypt water control was small-scale. By c.2300BC a stratified society had emerged with a uniform culture over a large area instead of lots of city states like Mesopotamia, including the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. The area had trade contacts with Mesopotamia, Arabia, Central Asia and Iran. By c.1900BC the cities were no longer functioning due to increased drought. The Indus civilization lasted less than 500 years due to the productive area being ruined by over-explotation; irrigation caused the water table to rise leading to growing soil salinization. Widespread deforestation caused major soil erosion. The landscape today is much drier than in prehistoric times due to over-exploitation. At the height the Indus Valley civilization 255

Indus Valley | Industrial Revolution

cultivated a greater area than Egypt and Mesopotamia combined (Alchin & Alchin 1997, Kenoyer 1998, Possehl 2002).

Industrial Revolution The move from an agriculture-based economy with production of goods in the home and small workshops to manufacturing in factories, with major increases in urbanization and the improvement of transport networks. Within three generations from 1750 to 1830 the face of the globe had changed. Although originating in Britain the chronology of the Industrial Revolution has long been debated. Some historians see its origins in the C17 or even the C16 but there is general agreement that there was a distinct acceleration of progress in the 1760s. The factors which fostered industrialization have also been disputed. A unique combination of innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, education, political freedom and suitable geology seems to have been involved. The earlier phases of industrialization involved only limited sectors of the economy in specific regions: coal mining, iron smelting and cotton manufacture in particular, initially using water power (Trinder 2005). Many early water-powered factories such as New Lanark (Scotland) or Cromford (Derbyshire) were sited in relatively remote locations requiring manufacturers to establish planned communities for their workers. The switch to the use of steam power, and the coming of improved transport networks – the turnpikes from the mid-C18, then canals and finally in the 2nd quarter of the C19, railways caused increasing concentration of industry in or near larger towns. Gradually towns like Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle became the foci of industrialised and urbanized conurbations (Osborn 2003). The environmental impact of this was dramatic. Contemporary paintings of iron-smelting sites like Carron (Scotland) and Ironbridge (Shropshire) look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. With an almost total lack of regulation air, streams and rivers were polluted, vegetation around places like Manchester began to suffer, the ground was scarred by waste heaps and coal mining caused subsidence. The term ‘Black Country’, applied to an area N and W of Birmingham and later to N France, was entirely appropriate. As industrial populations expanded through natural increase and in-migration, living conditions and public health in the towns became a matter of increasing concern. From the early C19 parts of Europe began to industrialise in competition with Britain; first Belgium then Germany, France and Switzerland, 256

Industrial Revolution | influenza

spreading to the USA by the late C19, followed by Russia, Japan. These countries were able to move straight to more developed engineering and transport technologies and to avoid some of the mistakes made in Britain. Nevertheless life in industrial communities was often harsh, epitomized by Emile Zola in Germinal (1885), a grim depiction of working and environmental conditions in the coalfields of N France (Trinder 2005). Such conditions proliferated as other countries like the USA and USSR developed major industrial areas.

infield-outfield farming A form of open-field farming in which a limited amount of land, close to the settlement, was cultivated intensively, often continuously, without fallowing, kept fertile by heavy inputs of manure and fertilizers: dung, soot-impregnated thatch, sand, seaweed and turf (see plaggen). Beyond were the outfields, plots of land cultivated for short periods with only limited manuring and left to revert to pasture when crop yields dropped to unacceptable levels. The use of outfields could resemble shifting cultivation or be more strictly regulated resembling a form of convertible husbandry. Infield-outfield was the standard system of cultivation in Scotland and Ireland into the C18. There are indications that in earlier times it may have occurred widely in England, being replaced by more intensive systems. Similar systems have been recorded from Scandinavia (Dodgshon 1981).

influenza Caused by a virus which, in more extreme cases, can lead to pneumonia. Transmitted by inhaling droplets from coughs and sneezes. Influenza spreads around the world each year in seasonal epidemics which globally may cause 25–500,000 deaths a year. These epidemics are punctuated by more serious pandemics of which there were three in the C20. In 1918 the ‘Spanish influenza’ pandemic killed at least 20 million and perhaps as many as 40 million, arguably more than the Black Death. The spread of the pandemic was aided by the movement of large numbers of troops at the end of WW1. The disease particularly attacked people in the 20–40 years old age groups. 28% of Americans were affected and c.670,000 died, a mortality rate c.2.5% against a rate of 0.1% for previous influenza epidemics. In 1957 Asian flu killed 1 million, and in 1968 Hong Kong ‘flu killed 700,000. Each pandemic has been associated with the appearance of a new strain of the virus. New strains emerge every 10–40 years. The first clear historical record 257

influenza | interstadial

of influenza was an outbreak in 1580 which started in Russia and spread to Europe, causing heavy mortality in some Italian and Spanish cities.

insect remains See coleoptera.

interglacial Warmer period between ice ages when the major ice sheets retreated to higher latitudes and altitudes.

internal combustion engine The internal combustion engine was developed in the late C19. Prior to this horses had dominated urban and rural transport, each horse requiring c.2 ha of land a year for fodder. By 1995 there were half a billion motor vehicles in the world. In the USA by 1990 there were 5.5 million km of surfaced roads, ten to 15 times the length of the railway network. Most of the road building took place between 1920 and 1980 with the aid of subsidies from federal government. Car accidents in the USA accounted for 25–50,000 deaths a year after 1925: five to six times the total C20 American war dead. Worldwide car accidents caused c.400,000 deaths a year (McNeill 2000). While urban pollution from industrial smoke has declined in the second half of the C20 pollution from internal combustion engines has increased steadily and in some cities (e.g. Los Angeles, Mexico City) has become a major problem.

International Convention for the Regulation of Whales (1946) Set up by the International Whaling Commission to protect whale populations.

interstadial A relatively warm phase within an ice age, shorter than a full interglacial, during which the advance of ice sheets is temporarily halted or reversed (Roberts 1989).


introduced species

introduced species Species have been introduced to areas beyond their original range as a result of human activity (whether deliberately or unwittingly) since the earliest times but the process has become more common, operating over greater distances, and having more serious effects since the expansion of European trade and colonialization from the C16. Introduced species can drive out native ones by competing more successfully for particular ecological niches. The introduction of domesticated crops and livestock (ecological imperialism) totally transformed environments, causing species extinction, habitat destruction, overgrazing and soil erosion. Goats, sheep, pigs, cattle and horses which escaped into the wild could have major environmental impacts: e.g. horses on the American prairies, pigs and horses in Australia. The accidental introduction of pests like rats and weeds in crops also created serious difficulties. The deliberate introduction of species for sport or to remind people of their home country could have major impacts too: e.g. rabbits in Australia and New Zealand. In 1859 Thomas Austin, a farmer near Geelong, Victoria, Australia introduced a few rabbits for game. With no natural predators, human attempts to control or eradicate them failed. In 1902–7 a 1,600 km long fence was built to keep them out of W Australia but was breached in the 1920s. Myxamatosis was deliberately introduced from Brazil in the 1950s with a death rate of 99.8%, but the population of resistant animals increased. The process goes back to the earliest European colonies. On the island of Porto Santo, Madeira, when the Portuguese arrived in the 1420s, rabbits on board ship escaped. Within a few years their descendants had caused so much damage to local ecosystems that the island had to be abandoned for 30 years. On St Helena goats were responsible for making 22 out of 33 native plants extinct. In Australia prickly pear cactus was introduced in 1839 for hedges but went wild in Queensland and New South Wales so that by 1975 over 25 million ha were affected. This process could operate in reverse with foreign species being introduced to Europe. Sometimes the effect could be positive, such as the introduction of various exotic conifers to Britain in the C18 and C19. In Britain the most expensive conservation plant problem has been Rhodedendron ponticul, first introduced in the C18, possibly from Spain, made hardy by selection and hybridization, becoming cheap and popular in the mid/ late C18 as an ornamental plant and for game cover. It was first recognized as a widespread problem in the 1930s (Dehnen-Schmitz & Williamson 2006) and is now seen as a native by most people. Other nuisance alien species include Himalayan balsam and Giant knotweed, while nuisance 259

introduced species | Iraq

animal aliens include the grey squirrel and mink. Some species have become so well established in new environments that it is easy to forget that they are not native: in Britain rabbits and pheasants are examples (Leland 2005).

Inuit Indigenous inhabitants of the American Arctic. Their predecessors, the Dorset culture spread over the Canadian Arctic and into Greenland c.8000BC, occupying Greenland for c.1,000 years and then abandoning it with much of northern Canada by c.AD300. By c.AD700 they had expanded once again reaching Labrador and NW Greenland. They hunted a wide range of species and traded over long distances but did not have dogs, bows or skin boats. It is likely that the Norse met them in Nordsetr (see Greenland). Inuit culture and technology included whale hunting in open water. They developed in the Bering Strait before AD1000 using dog sleds and large boats for fast travel. They followed Bowhead whales into Greenland by AD1300 and had reached the Norse E Settlement by c.AD1400. Their kayaks, individually tailored to the user, demonstrated their skill and sophistication as hunters (Fagan 1991, Nelson 1969, Ray 1992).

Ipswichian The last interglacial in Britain, began c.130,000 years ago and lasted c.11,000 years. Climatic conditions and sea levels were similar to the Holocene (Roberts 1989).

Iraq The area in which the first civilizations based on cities and irrigated agriculture developed (see Mesopotamia). Desert conditions affect much of the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates today, highlighted by modern news coverage. Such images emphasize how much environmental degradation has taken place in the last 4,000 years as a result of the salinization of soils caused by irrigation water drawing salts up to the surface (see Mesopotamia). About 40% of Iraq’s 434,000 km2 is desert plateau in the W of the country and 20% mountains in the N and E. Between are the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates. As a result of the repressive rule of Saddam Hussein (1979–2003), economic sanctions, an eight-year war with Iran and the two Gulf Wars (1991 and 2003) the Iraqi environment has 260

Iraq | Ireland

suffered severely. The marshes at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates, up to 20,000 km2, provided a wetland home for the distinctive society of the Ma’dan or Marsh Arabs made famous by Wilfrid Thesiger (1964). The Marsh Arabs have occupied this area for over 5,000 years: some groups were nomadic pastoralists and others farmers. Damming of the upper Tigris and Euphrates for irrigation started the reduce the flow of water to the marshlands in the 1970s but after the First Gulf War (1990–1) large areas of marshland were deliberately drained on the orders of Saddam Hussein as a reprisal for a Shi’a uprising. Since the end of the Second Gulf War attempts have been made to re-flood the marshes and up to 50% have been ‘restored’. It will take a long time for the delicate wetlands ecosystems to recover and most of the Marsh Arabs were dispersed out of the area, many into refugee camps in Iran. At the end of the First Gulf War in 1991 the retreating Iraqi army set fire to c.700 oil wells, some of which took almost a year to extinguish. The smoke caused respiratory problems to the inhabitants of Kuwait and spread more widely over the E Arabian peninsula. There has also been extensive pollution from the numerous industrial sites bombed during the two Gulf Wars. Today the Tigris and Euphrates are badly polluted from both agricultural and industrial sources. The flow of both rivers, especially their spring floods, has been reduced by the construction of numerous dams in their headwaters designed to provide irrigation water, to the detriment of wetlands downstream. Around three-quarters of the irrigated land in Iraq sufferes from contamination by salt to a greater or lesser degree (Wells 2006).

Ireland A country where a distinctive environment and human history has combined to produce dramatic landscapes. The advent of the first Neolithic cultures in Ireland was as early as anywhere in Britain. Neolithic field systems have been discovered buried below later accumulations of peat caused by cooler and wetter conditions but also, probably, through soil impoverishment resulting from deforestation and early farming in areas of light soils like the Burren. Peat has been cut for fuel and bedding for livestock for at least 1,300 years and the peak of hand-cut peat was as late as 1926 with a further revival during WW2 when imports of coal from England dwindled. Since the 1980s mechanical peat cutting for garden compost has removed large areas of blanket peat with 15% of blanket bogs in Eire and 50% in Ulster having been destroyed. Drained bogs can be converted to pasture or are sometimes planted with conifers. Ireland was 261

Ireland | iron smelting

also rich in lowland raised bogs but between 1814 and 1946 half of these were destroyed by cutting. The bogs preserve detailed records of vegetation and other environmental changes. Tree ring chronologies from bog timber go back to the early Holocene. Ireland appears to have had a substantial population in late prehistoric times to judge by the large number of circular ring forts (known as raths in the E where their banks were of earth and cashels in the W where they were built of stone). In areas like the Burren some cashels are surrounded by complex patterns of stone fields. Many of these sites seem to have provided accommodation for single, wealthier families, perhaps with dependent undefended settlements nearby. On a far larger scale are huge forts like Dun Aengus, on a clifftop in the Aran Islands, where multiple rings of defences suggest status symbols as much as protection. In later centuries early monastic sites were foci of development in the landscape, periodically interrupted by Viking raids (Maguire 2004). Some monastic sites were on remote rocky islands like Skellig Michael, an Irish counterpart of the desert locations of early Christian hermits. Large areas of the country were conquered by the AngloNormans in the C12 but Ireland seems to have been a thinly populated country down to end of the C16.Tudor campaigns reputedly led to the destruction of extensive areas of forest to prevent them from being used as a refuge by rebels. In the C16–17 plantations (colonies) of English settlers were created in Munster and other areas, and of Scottish settlers in Ulster. Rural settlement was dominated by hamlet clusters or clachans with infield-outfield systems except in areas of English settlement in E Ireland where nucleated villages around greens, dominated by Norman castles, had been introduced. Before the potato became the great staple food of the poor in the C18 Ireland, marginal for cereal production, suffered periodic crop failures and major famines. Growing population was balanced by emigration: of poor families to England and of men further afield for mercenary service. The Irish labourer was compared unfavourably with his English counterpart in the C18 and early C19 as being poorer, worse housed and dirtier (through digging and burning peat) but he was probably better fed. Then came the potato blight and subsequent famine from 1845 with heavy emigration as well as high mortality (Aalen et al. 1997).

iron smelting First developed in the Near E, the smelting or iron spread rapidly in Asia, Europe and Africa. Along with shipbuilding, charcoal iron smelting has been one of the traditional scapegoats blamed for the destruction of 262

iron smelting | irrigation

woodland, notably in Britain but also elsewhere in Europe. In fact, despite much propaganda by special interest groups, acute shortages of timber appear to have been local rather than national in scale. Early writing which identified charcoal iron smelting as a major cause of deforestation ignored the fact that fuel was mostly produced from renewable coppicing and that when the location of iron production was moved, e.g. from the Weald to the Forest of Dean or Cumbria, it was not because the Weald had been stripped of trees but because the industry had reached the limits of its fuel supply. Wood was stacked in cone or dome-shaped mounds covered with clay or earth with a hole in the top for kindling to be ignited and the wood allowed to burn for several days with only a limited supply of air. In the Weald over 80,000 ha were managed by coppicing (Flinn 1958, Hammersley 1973, Pounds 1979). In medieval times and later iron was smelted at small bloomery sites which produced only a few tons of iron a year. From the end of the C17 charcoal blast furnaces producing several hundred tons a year developed (Lindsay 1975, 1977). The development of the use of coal in iron smelting changed the distribution of the industry from woodland areas to coalfields with major environmental impacts.

irrigation Supplying water to the soil by artificial means to encourage crop growth. Irrigation seems to have developed first on the fringes of the Zagros Mts in the Near E. In the ancient Near and Middle E irrigation produced the food surpluses which allowed the development of the first hydraulic civilizations in Mesopotamia and later the Nile and the Indus Valley as well as in the Americas, creating distinctive landscapes and environmental problems including the spread of certain pests and diseases. Other societies, like the Anasazi, used irrigation on a smaller scale (Doolittle 1990). The C19 saw the start of construction of large dams for irrigation schemes, especially in India which, by 1940, had one-quarter of the world’s irrigated area (Butzer 1976, Doolittle 1990, Stone 1984). Irrigation may be small-scale and low-tec such as the shaduf and Archimedes’ screw or high-tec involving major dams, pumping of groundwater, major canal systems, or sprinklers. In 1990 c.15% of all farmland in the world was irrigated producing 30% of food supply. The area had increased threefold since 1970. Output from irrigated areas averages twice that of non-irrigated land. Much irrigation water is used inefficiently; in China and India two-thirds is wasted by evaporation and seepage. Irrigation was not suited to saline soils as salts were drawn to the surface and deposited, limiting or preventing future crop 263

irrigation | Israel

growth. Since the 1980s the rate of growth of the irrigated area has been reduced largely because most of the best dam sites have already been developed. Salinization is starting to affect around one-quarter of the irrigated land of the USA, India and Egypt (Husani 1980, McNeill 2000, Stone 1984).

island biogeography Theory developed by Macarthur and Wilson (1967) suggesting that the number of species on an island is determined by the balance between immigration and extinction. Immigration rates decrease with increasing distance from the mainland while extinction rates increase with decreasing size of island. The theory aims to explain the factors affecting the species richness of natural communities. It has since been applied to mountain areas and lakes and more generally any ecosystem surrounded by different ecosystems (Macarthur & Wilson 1967).

isostasy, isostatic A negative feedback process restoring stability to the earth’s crust by its reaction to the increase or reduction of loads. The rebound and uplift of land freed from the weight of Pleistocene ice sheets was first explained by Thomas Jamieson in Scotland in 1865. Rebound was greatest where the ice sheet has been thickest. In Europe the areas close to the centre of the former Scottish ice sheet over Rannoch Moor are still rising and land around the head of the Baltic Sea is rising even more (Jones 1977). As a result of differential uplift raised beaches, formerly level, rise towards the former ice centre and sites which were once coastal are now well inland (see eustasy/eustatic).

Israel A small, semi-arid country of which around half is desert but with a great diversity of environments. A century ago Israel was almost undeveloped: since then there has been a tenfold increase in population and living standards with a corresponding growth of environmental problems. Since the establishment of Israel in 1948 the pace of change has been especially intense. For the first two decades or more of Israel’s existence environmental issues took a back seat in favour of rapid urban and industrial development and the intensification of agriculture. Desert areas have been irrigated but there has been an increase in soil erosion, desertification, and 264

Israel | Italy

contamination of groundwater. Environmental degradation has been worsened by the concentration of development along the Mediterranean coast. The creation of an Environmental Protection Service in 1973 and a Ministry for the Environment in 1988 has given such problems a higher profile. 20% of the country is now protected under various designations. Preserving sources and quality of water has probably been the biggest challenge. Israel is a pioneer in the use of recycled water and in techniques of drip irrigation which provide crops with the smallest necessary amount of water. With the need to share water resources with Jordan and Syria levels have fallen drastically in the Dead Sea while fishing has been banned in the Sea of Galilee in 2010 to preserve stocks. Desertification has been tackled by afforestation and the conservation of soils and water. Air pollution from industry and especially vehicles is a serious problem, particularly in Jerusalem (Tal 2002).

Istanbul Originally Byzantium, later Constantinople, the 5th largest city in the world (12.8 million population) on the Bosphorous Strait between the Mediterranean and Black Sea, overlooking the harbour of the Golden Horn. Originally Phonecian then Greek colonies were established here before it became the capital of the Roman Empire (AD330–95), the E Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204, 1261–1453) and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). For many centuries it was the largest and wealthiest city in the world before declining in the C15 and then being revitalized by the Ottomans.The city has had water supply problems which were tackled by the Romans with aqueducts, of which the Valens aqueduct (AD375) still survives. Water was brought from outside the city area and stored using a combination of aqueducts, water towers and cisterns, some of which were underground and have become visitor attractions. The system has been described as one of the greatest achievements of hydraulic engineering in the ancient world.

Italy Current population c.58 million. A country with a comparative lack of resources but plenty of environmental problems, notably deforestation and erosion. The environment has been affected since early agriculturalists c.5600BC began to attack the forests clearing land for livestock or burning timber to make charcoal. In the Po valley there have been attempts at drainage from Roman times but from the C18 these were undertaken on 265


a massive scale making much of Lombardy suitable for rice growing. Between the 1880s and 1914 there was a landscape and agricultural revolution in this region with the output of wheat, maize and rice increasing two- to threefold and malaria receding. From the 1890s hydroelectric power schemes were developed in the Italian Alps, the first big plant opening in 1898. In the early C20 Italy led Europe in the development of HEP. Milan was the second city in the world to electrify street lighting. HEP provided the basis for Italian industrial growth under Mussolini (McNeill 2000). By the C16 the Venetians were starting to control timber extraction in the mountains of N Italy. The Forest Law of 1877 started to protect the landscape as did 1912 legislation to protect historic landscapes. The first national parks were Gran Paradiso (1922) and Abruzzo (1923). The Fascist era witnessed the development of massive projects to improve rural society and the land by reclamation and drainage. The late C20 saw the large-scale depopulation of mountain areas.


J Japan Agriculture arrived in Japan c.400BC. Population stood at c.7 million c.AD1200 but 30 million by 1700 due to the development of more intensive farming including growing use of fertilizers, the spread of wet rice cultivation and double cropping. Greater stability after c.AD1600 led to an increase in the irrigated area. Rice cultivation seems to have been introduced from China or Korea c.3000BC but buckwheat may have come first. The earliest agriculture was probably swidden in which animals were not important; fish was a major source of protein. Over three-quarters of the land was unsuitable for cultivation. The picture of environmental change in early-modern Japan is clearer than for China. Today Japan is one of the most forested countries in the world. The origins of this go back to the C17. In 1600 Japan had a population of c.12 million and a cultivated area of 1.49 million ha with extensive forests. By 1720 populartion had grown to 26 million and the cultivated area to 2.94 million ha, indicating major woodland clearance with intensive logging spreading from the centre of the Japanese state to S Honshu. Ruling elites indulged in grandiose building programmes consuming huge amounts of timber. Feuding between the Daimyo or feudal lords led to much timber being used for fortressed and defences. The capital, Edo, had a population of c.500,000 by 1660 and was prone to frequent major fires: by the end of the C17 forests were in serious decline. The C18 brought an era of regulation of forest uses and replanting with aims which were practical rather than aesthetic, including combatting soil erosion. Preservation of peace, avoiding foreign controls and a focus on making do with existing resources as well as the stability of population helped take the pressure off Japan’s forests with a 267


shift of the search for protein to the seas, in marked contrast to China. The cultivated area and population grew substantially in the C16–18 with population reaching c.31 million by 1730. From c.1600 there was increasing regulation of forests and their use with attempts to reduce consumption. By the late C18 plantation forestry was widely practised. Japan has a long history of commercial forestry with the highest proportion of its area forested among first-world nations, despite having one of the highest population densities of any large developed nation. Forestry policy in the C17 was the result of an environmental crisis. Peace under the Tokugawa shoguns caused an increase in population and the economy with population doubling in a century or so after AD1615. Relative freedom from epidemics from outside was due to deliberate isolationalism. Agricultural productivity rose with the arrival of potatoes and sweet potatoes and the reclamation of marshland with an expansion of the area under irrigated rice. From 1635 Japanese were banned from overseas travel and the country became largely self-sufficient. C17 prosperity led to deforestation as most houses, including those in towns, were timber built. Japan suffered from some huge urban fires such as one in 1657 which burnt down half of Edo (modern Tokyo) and killed c.100,000. Timber was also used as fuel for domestic and industrial purposes. In AD1550 75% of Japan was still forested. By 1710 most of the accessible forests had been cut on the three main islands of Kyushu, Shikofu and Honshu. Deforestation led to soil erosion in a country with heavy rain, snowmelt and earthquakes, with flooding of lowland areas. In the late C17 the country suffered from a number of major famines. The problems were solved by regulation of population and consumption, increasing reliance on fishing, with growing use of fish meal fertilizer and increased hunting for whales and seals. Between 1721 and 1828 population scarcely grew (26.1 million to 27.2 mi) due to later marriage, longer birth intervals, contraception, abortion and infanticide. There was growing attention to afforestation, careful regulation of felling, restrictions on the use of timber for house building. In the C17 a body of scientific writing on forestry developed leading to the spread of plantation forestry with trees seen as a slow-growing crop. The Japanese climate encouraged rapid tree growth, volcanic eruptions restored soil fertility with ash falls and there was a lack of goats and sheep to damage young saplings. The replacement of plough cultivation by hand tillage caused fewer horses and oxen to be kept. The industrialization of Japan occurred from the 1880s, first with a great expansion of the traditional rural sector (e.g. silk, tea, cotton) and from the 1890s with heavy industry. The lack of flat land for industry 268

Japan | Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonioca)

resulted in extensive reclamation in coastal areas. Japan still has 15% of its area under cultivation but 57% as forest. During the phase of rapid industrialization environmental conditions were ignored and by the 1970s Japan had a poor reputation for pollution: atmospheric, freshwater and marine. The mercury poisoning of people living around Minamata Bay near Nagasaki in the late 1950s provided a wake-up call and led to pollution being tackled more seriously, followed by more attention to amenity such as the preservation of historic landscapes and the greening of urban areas (Totman 1989). Air pollution reached high levels by the 1970s with little state regulation but from then there has been rapid improvement due to legislation and by the late 1980s Japan’s air was cleaner than that of most industrial countries, helped by a system of local government which responded to local concerns and some well-publicied test cases where pollution victims successfully sued large industrial firms (McNeill 2000). Minamata Bay provides one of the worst examples of the chemical pollution of Japanese marine environments. From 1910 a chemical factory was in operation and from 1932 waste heavily laden with mercury was dumped into the bay. This worked its way up the food chain until by the late 1940s the fish were dying. A decade later children were starting to develop brain damage but it took until the 1970s for serious action to be taken (George 2001, McNeill 2000, Roberts 1998, Smith 1959, Totman 1983, 1989). Population was stable until c.1880 after which a new burst of growth was associated with industrialization, rising to 125 million by 2000. Japan developed as an industrial nation using coal in the 1920s, HEP in the 1930s, oil and coal in the 1960s and nuclear power in the 1980s. Population grew threefold between 1890 and 2000. Industrialization was associated with massive urbanization. The modern development of agriculture has relied heavily on chemical fertilizers causing pollution problems. Industrial growth led to massive deforestation from the late C19 with problems of erosion and flooding but a large-scale programme of reafforestation was implemented in the 1950s and 1960s (Brown 1993, George 2001, Karris 1985, Shively & McCullough 1999, Totman 1993).

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonioca) Plant native to Japan, China and Korea which proved to be an invasive weed when introduced to N America and W Europe colonizing river banks like Himalayan balsam. It grows on a range of soils, is resistant to cutting and cold, requiring herbicides to kill its underground rhizomes. 269

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonioca) | Justinian plague

Jericho Site of an ancient city in the Palestinian W Bank, marked by a tell 12 m high and covering 2.5 ha. The site was attractive from early times because of a spring of fresh water, creating an oasis and allowing irrigation. Described by some archaeologists as the world’s oldest town, Jericho was occupied by Natufians between 10800BC and 8500BC. Under the succeeding Pre-Pottery Neolithic A culture the first walls were constructed along with a tower; the function of these has been debated by archaeologists, whether for protection against floods or human attackers. From the Middle Bronze Age the city was abandoned for many centuries. Excavated by various people in the C19 but notably by Dame Kathleen Kenyon 1952–8.

jet stream Narrow band of fast winds at the tropopause between the troposphere and the stratosphere blowing from W to E in mid-latitudes. Jet streams steer lower-level depressions. Their course may be relatively direct or meandering and this can bring markedly contrasting weather conditions to areas below and on either side of them. Their average position can vary on timescales of years and decades, causing major climatic shifts. The ENSO cycles in the Pacific have profound effects on the location of the Pacific jet stream and the areas which receive intense precipitation or experience drought.

¨ kuhlaup jo Flood caused by sudden release of glacial meltwater: may be associated with a subglacial volcanic eruption, e.g. in Iceland.

Justinian plague In AD541–2 during the reign of the Emperor Justinian, a pandemic, the earliest on record, spread across the Roman Empire. It may have originated in Ethiopia or Egypt and is likely to have been carried to Constantinople from Egypt in cargoes of grain. The plague swept across Europe and reached as far W as Ireland. The symptoms, described in detail by Procopius, fit bubonic plague making this the first known appearance of this disease in Europe. It has been suggested that 40% of the inhabitants of Constantinople may have died and 25% of the inhabitants of the E Mediterranean. Further outbreaks, less virulent and less extensive, occurred later in the C6, C7 and C8. By analogy with the Black Death the impact of this level of mortality on contemporary society is likely to have been 270

Justinian plague

considerable. The decline of slavery, the spread of Christianity and the collapse of the Roman Empire have all been seen as possible results of the pandemic (McNeill 1976, Rosen 2007).


K Kalahari A huge and diverse area covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and S Africa, its margins spreading N into Angola and Zambia. The Kalahari extends to c.900,000 km2. The area includes the world’s largest inland delta, the Okavango. Some areas are true desert (the name means ‘the great thirst’) with active dunes but large areas are semi-desert rather than true desert with low, variable rain supporting grassland and bush. Rainfall has varied greatly in the past with wet and dry cycles of varying length, The area was once much wetter than today with L Makgadikgadi covering as much as 275,000 km2 c.10,000 years ago. When Europeans first began to penetrate the area it was inhabited by groups of Bushmen or San, some of which have maintained a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, in whole or in part, into recent times. Anthropologists originally thought that they had been pushed into this difficult environment from its more fertile surroundings by other cultures of livestock herders and agriculturalists. More recently evidence has emerged suggesting that the ancestors of modern San people had been established in the heart of the Kalahari for millennia. Rather than being completely isolated from external cultural influences the San are now seen to have had early interactions with Bantu farmers, herders and traders. Contact with the outside world did not necessarily threaten the Kalahari foragers. The ecosystems of the Kalahari are fragile and have changed substantially in the last century under human impact. Black cattle herders seem to have moved into the area c.AD200 – most of the area was free from tsetse fly – but to have retreated between c.AD1300 and AD1500 due to a major drought. Livestock systems in the past were characterized by transhumance as a way of spreading the risks of drought. In the C20 the Kalahari has been increasingly used for 272

Kalahari | Knight, Richard Payne (1750–1824)

livestock farming through the establishment of ranches dependent on deep boreholes tapping supplies of groundwater leading to overgrazing, soil erosion and desertification. In the mid-1990s the governmentof Botswana has implemented a relocation policy to free up areas for tourism and diamond mining (Cooke 1985, Perkins & Thomas 2006, Sporton & Thomas 2002, Thomas & Shaw 1991, Van der Post 1958).

karst Landscapes produced by chemical weathering and solution of carbonate rocks like limestone creating distinctive landforms such as limestone pavements, dolines, cave systems.

kelp Fucus vesiculosis – seaweed collected from below the high tide mark and used as a fertilizer or burnt in kilns using peat as a fuel to produce ash used in various industrial processes. Using seaweed on arable land has been practised in the N and W areas of Britain since at least medieval times. Irish communities in muddy estuarine areas laid out lines of stones perpendicular to the coast for seaweed to take root on. Kelp was collected and burnt on a large scale in the NW Highlands and Islands of Scotland as well as Ireland (especially the W coast) and Wales in the late C18/early C19, forming an important adjunct to agriculture within the crofting system. Seaweed could also be eaten and was consumed particularly in Ireland during the potato famine of 1847–8. The industry collapsed rapidly after 1815 when imports of Spanish barilla were restored (Youngson 1973). Seaweed is still eaten as a delicacy in Wales as laver bread, and in the Far E.

Kilimanjaro At 5,892 m the highest mountain in Africa. A snow cap has crowned it for the last 11,700 years but may vanish within the next two decades. 85% of the summit icefield has been lost since it was first mapped in 1912. The total melting of the icefields is likely to have a serious impact on the forests lower down the mountain’s slopes and on the surrounding plains (Hastenrath & Greischar 1997).

Knight, Richard Payne (1750–1824) One of the most important figures in the development of theories relating to Picturesque landscapes. His book An Analytical Enquiry into the Principles 273

Knight, Richard Payne (1750–1824) | Kyoto Protocol

of Taste (1805) developed and systematised the ideas of William Gilpin and Uvedale Price.

Konik horse (Equus konik polski) A primitive Polish breed of horse bred from wild tarpans (Equus ferus ferus). Ancestors of modern horses in the C18, the last of which survived into the early C20 in Poland and which have been introduced to a number of nature reserves like Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands.

Krakatau (Krakatoa) Volcano in Sunda Strait, Indonesia. An earlier volcano on the same site collapsed into a 7 km wide caldera, perhaps in AD416. A series of eruptions in 1883 culminated in a huge explosion which destroyed two-thirds of the island and generated tsunamis 40 m high on the coasts of the neighbouring islands of Java and Sumatra. The volcano collapsed into a caldera c.6 km in diameter: c.36,000 people were killed, the majority of them by the tsunamis.The blast was heard 4,600 km away and tephra fell over 2,500 km. Around 18 km3 of material was erupted, a good deal less than the 50 km3 of Tambora in 1815. Mean global temperatures dropped by several degrees for a few months and the volcanic material in the atmosphere produced distinctive colourful sunsets for several years.

Kyoto Protocol (Framework Convention on Climate Change) An international agreement setting targets for industrialised countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It was based on principles established in a framework agreement in 1992. It finally came into force when Russia agreed to sign in 2004, it having been stipulated that to be binding in international law the agreement had to be ratified by countries producing at least 55% of 1990 global greenhouse gas emissions. The USA pulled out in 2001 because of concerns that its implementation would damage its economy. The treaty committed industrialized countries to cutting their combined emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2008–12 but each country agreed its own specific target. EU countries undertook to cut present emissions by 8%. Industrialised countries reduced emissions by c.3% 1990–2000 but much of this was due to the economic collapse of former Soviet countries masking an 8% rise among rich countries.


L L’Anse aux Meadows N Newfoundland; the only known Norse settlement In N America, excavated by Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine in the 1960s. The settlement consisted of eight turf-walled structures on a terrace overlooking a shallow bay, including a workshop, smithy and four boat sheds. Radiocarbon dates indicated occupation c.AD1000 and characteristic Norse artefacts were found. The site was only used for a few years by explorers from the Norse settlements in Greenland. It provides the only widely accepted proof of preColumban contact between Europe and the Americas, representing the most W push of Norse settlement. It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1978 (Jones 1986, Ingstad 1969, 1985).

˜a La Nin ˜ o. See El Nin

Ladurie, E. Le Roy (1929–) French historian of the Annales School. Among his works is Times of Feast, Times of Famine (1971) a study of climatic change in Europe and its impacts from AD1000 to recent times. In this Ladurie deployed his skill as an historian to chronicle glacier fluctuations, variations in the date of the grape harvest and other indicators of past climate. His conclusion was that climatic change had occurred on this timescale but that its historical impact had not been significant, a surprisingly low-key finding.


Lake District

Lake District The only really rugged mountain area in England with the highest peak (Scafell Pike 978 m) the largest lake (Windermere 17 km long) and the deepest lake (Wastwater 73 m deep). The environmental history of the area in early and mid-Holocene times is better known than any other comparable area in Britain because of an intensive programme of pollen analysis carried out by Pennington, Oldfield and others in the 1960s and 1970s, covering prehistoric woodland clearance particularly well. Detailed surveys of Neolithic axe-making sites on the Langdale Pikes and surrounding ridges have been integrated with the pollen evidence (Pearsall & Pennington 1973, Claris & Quartermaine 1989). The area was extensively settled by Old Norse-speaking immigrants in early medieval times leaving a legacy of distinctive place names. The scenery of the area, dismissed by early C18 writers like Daniel Defoe as unattractive, began to be valued from the 1750s and 1760s with the growing fashion for upland landscapes and especially the rise of the Picturesque landscape aesthetic in the last 30 years of the C18. The development of Picturesque tourism was promoted by accounts of the scenery by people like the poet Thomas Gray and guidebooks by William Gilpin and Thomas West. The interruption of access to Europe for the Grand Tour during the revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815) increased the area’s attraction. The person who contributed most to popularising the Lake District was William Wordsworth. Born in Cockermouth on the edge of the region in 1770 and educated at Hawkshead grammar school he returned to the region with his sister Dorothy in 1799 to live at Dove Cottage, Grasmere. Tourism was already starting to change the area and its inhabitants with the construction of villas as summer and permanent residences for wealthy outsiders and the spread of facilities catering for visitors. Wordsworth’s poetry gradually gained widespread acceptance in the early C19 and encouraged growing numbers of tourists. Other writers like Coleridge and Southey moved to the area. In 1810 Wordsworth produced the first edition of his Guide to the Lakes which reached a widening audience in successive editions into the 1840s. In it he analysed the physical and human landscapes of the area in a way which was comparable, on a small scale, with the writings of contemporary geographers like Alexander von Humboldt (Whyte 2002). Wordsworth set out his opinions on the conservation of the Lake District with ‘rules of good taste’ for the siting, style and materials suitable for new villas. He expressed 276

Lake District

the view that the Lake District was ‘a sort of national property’, a statement later seen as anticipating the national park movement. Wordsworth’s views did not necessarily have much contemporary influence, as suggested by his unsuccessful opposition in 1844 and 1845 to the construction of a railway line from Kendal to Windermere. In the second half of the C19, after Wordsworth’s death in 1850, his views provided ammunition for a new generation of conservationists who opposed, with considerable success, further railways, industrial developments and water supply schemes in the region. These campaigns involved people like Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, a founder of the National Trust and a strong influence on the young Beatrix Potter. A permanent conservation group, the Lake District Defence Society came into being which continues today as the Friends of the Lake District. An opposition group, the English Lake District Association, supported by hoteliers, tradesmen and businessmen, pushed for development and employment. In the first four decades of the C20 other challenges appeared: telephone lines, electric pylons, motor vehicles, road improvements and low-flying aircraft as well as the activities of the Forestry Commission were new issues. The survival of extensive upland commons with de facto if not de jure access meant that in the 1930s access for walkers and climbers was not an issue as it was in the Peak District. Nevertheless conservation issues in the Lake District were important in the 1930s debate over the creation of national parks. The attitude to nature and landscape developed by Wordsworth spread throughout the world in the C19 and remains a powerful influence on W perceptions of landscape today. The Lake District was designated as a national park in 1951, the largest in England. Rising standards of living, personal mobility and leisure time, particularly the completion of the M6 motorway in 1970, greatly increased numbers of day visitors putting the national park under heavy pressure with traffic congestion, parking, footpath erosion and litter as growing problems. Farming in the Lake District struggled after WW2 and with the advent of government subsidies and then EU headage payments for livestock rose steadily causing overgrazing and erosion until the effects of the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001. Second home ownership gradually pushed house prices out of reach of local people. Currently a bid for UNESCO World Heritage status is being prepared. The increasing willingness of the national park planning board to use its powers to the maximum led to the controversial introduction of a 10 mph speed limit for power boats on Windermere, preventing water skiing (Thompson 2010). 277

lake levels | lake sediments

lake levels Valuable indicators of environmental change (Street-Perrot & Harrison 1985). Chronologies of lake fluctuations were important in exploding the old idea, widely held until the 1950s, that glacial periods were accompanied by wet phases in the tropics and that desiccation was the norm when the ice retreated (Goudie 1999). Changes in lake hydrology reflect especially variations in precipitation. In arid and semi-arid areas much of the surface water flows into enclosed basins where the lakes act, effectively, as giant rain gauges. In wet (pluvial) periods many lakes were much larger than in recent times. L Chad, now 10,000 km2 in extent, covered 300,000 km2 at its postglacial maximum. In the USA the Great Salt Lake is only a shrunken remnant of the much larger L Bonneville which covered 50,000 km2 and was over 330 m deep. In closed lake basins rising lake levels may reflect wetter phases or periods of reduced evaporation. Former high lake shorelines can be recognized by abandoned cliffs, beaches and deltas. Periods of low lake levels can be determined by analysing cores from lake floor sediments with layers of saporite marking times when lakes dried up completely (Street-Perrot 1994). Lake level variations have provided valuable information on the climatic history of Africa and China (Goudie 1999, Fang 1991). Radiocarbon analysis of material in lake sediments has allowed periods of rising and falling levels to be dated, and correlations between lakes to be established (Street & Grove 1979). In sub-Saharan Africa the main wet phase was contemporary with the post-glacial climatic optimum: at this time rainfall was c.65% higher in E Africa than now, and in the Sudan between two and four times (Roberts 1989). Even in recent times lake levels have fluctuated significantly. L Malawi, one of the world’s largest lakes, dropped by c.100 m between AD1450 and AD1850 with rainfall in this period being possibly only 50% of that in the C20. L Chad, by contrast, was larger in the C16 and C17AD and lower in the C18 and C19 indicating marked regional contrasts within Africa (Maley 1977, Nicholson 1978, Street & Grove 1979).

lake sediments The study of lake sediments using coring implements can reveal a good deal about environmental changes which have occurred in the lake’s catchment due to climate and human activity through the quantity and nature of the mineral and organic material washed in, including periods of woodland clearance and soil erosion (Mackereth 1964).


Laki | land bridge

Laki Icelandic fissure volcano whose eruption in 1783–4 was one of the largest of the Holocene and of the worst in historical times. As a fissure eruption it has only been exceeded by the eruption of Eldgja in AD943. The eruption began on 8 June 1783 and continued for eight months with ten separate eruptive episodes. 14,731 km3 of basaltic lava and tephra were erupted and the resulting atmospheric haze was recorded as far away as Syria. Around 80 million tons of H2SO4 were released, four times the amount of El Chichon and 80 times as much as Mount St Helens. The Laki eruption showed that low-energy, large, long-duration basalt eruptions can have environmental impacts greater than large-volume, silica-rich eruptions; the sulphur content of basaltic magmas is 10–100 times greater than silica-rich magmas. Only 2.6% of the erupted material was tephra but the ashfall extended to mainland Europe. The plume of gases rose to 15 km. Ash was deposited over Iceland’s pastures causing huge livestock mortality due to animals being poisoned. Crops failed due to acid rain and one-fifth of the population died of starvation. 560 km2 was buried by lava flows from the eruptions. As a result of the eruption the winter of 1783–4 in NE USA was the longest and coldest on record (Thordarson & Self 1993).

Lamb, H.H. (1913–97) British meteorologist and pioneer climatic historian, founder in 1971 of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Lamb was one of the first meteorologists to show that climate had varied in the past, that these variations had sometimes had significant effects on human society as well as natural environments, and that there was a wide range of unexplored historical data to demonstrate this (Lamb 1972, 1977, 1982). He also did much to convince people that climatic change was relevant to the modern world. He plotted daily weather maps back to the mid-C19 and seasonal ones to late medieval times, reconstructing the basic features of the Little Ice Age and the medieval climatic optimum. In 1970 he developed the Dust Veil Index for global volcanic activity back to the C16.

land bridge Relatively narrow link between two land areas, e.g. across where the English Channel is located today, Beringia between Alaska and Siberia or


land bridge | landnam

between New Guinea and Australia. The breaching of land bridges can cause species to evolve differently on either side.

land capability A system of classifying soils according to their agricultural productivity rather than their physical characteristics.

Landes Landes in French means ‘moor’ or ‘heath’. This is a region of SW France S of Bordeaux with a 160 km coastline on the Atlantic. Before the C19 this was an area of heathland, sand dunes and marshes, with only limited areas of semi-natural woodlands, grazed for sheep watched over by shepherds on stilts to improve visibility. Sometimes known as the French Sahara this was a thinly populated region. In the C19, especially from the 1850s drainage, reclamation and especially the planting of huge areas with maritime pines (Pinus pinaster) changed the environment. Around 10,000 km2 of forest were planted and other areas reclaimed for agriculture, leading to an influx of population. Today the Landes is an important tourist area, especially along the coast.

landfill Burying waste material in the ground, often abandoned sand and gravel pits or quarries, an amplification of the age-old practice of burying rubbish in pits. The landfill may be covered in soil and the ground used for other purposes. Modern landfills were first developed in Britain in the 1920s and N America in the 1930s with alternate layers of waste and soil. Anaerobic bacteria break down organic material releasing methane and CO2, contributing to global warming. Modern landfill sites collect methane rather than allowing it to seep into the atmosphere. Landfill has been the main method of disposing of waste in the UK due to its cheapness. Up to 70% of waste in N America ends up in landfills. Landfills account for around one-fifth of the UK’s methane emissions. There is growing concern over the shortage of new landfill sites in Britain and the feasibility of using such sites for other purposes due to methane seepage and contamination of groundwater.

landnam A short-lived localized phase of woodland clearance for grazing or shifting agriculture, identified by sudden drops in the proportion of tree pollen and 280

landnam | landscape art

thought to have been caused by human activity. Landnam episodes were first identified in Scandinavia from Neolithic times. After the initial clearance there was a rise in the pollen of herbaceous plants, followed by an increase in hazel pollen marking the start of woodland regeneration. Clearance was for pasture or cultivation, with the soil cropped for brief period then abandoned and allowed to revert to woodland. This system continued in N Scandinavia until modern times (Roberts 1998). Some specialists contend that landnam are illusory and may have resulted from the way in which early pollen diagrams were produced (Williams 2003). The term has also been used for more recent settlement like the Norse occupation of islands like the Faroe and Iceland.

landscape archaeology The study of archaeological remains visible in the landscape or from remotely sensed images on a broader scale than the traditional archaeological concern with specific sites. Landscape archaeology was effectively established by pioneers like O.G.S. Crawford in the early C20 as ‘field archaeology’ but this approach has become much more important since WW2 as archaeological research has become increasingly concerned with territory and region as well as individual sites. Distingushed from landscape history by its focus on the landscape first and then on additional sources as evidence.

landscape architecture The design and management of rural and urban environments at scales ranging from individual gardens to regions. Developed as a specific profession in the USA in the late C19 and in Europe in the C20 but with antecedents in urban planning going back through Patrick Geddes in the early C20 and Haussman in 2nd Empire Paris to ancient cities and through landscape gardeners like Capability Brown and Humphry Repton in ˆ tre at C17 Versailles. C18 England and Andre´ Le No

landscape art Landscape art began to emerge in Renaissance Europe in the C15 with the introduction of linear perspective especially in N Italy and Flanders, the most densely populated and advanced regions. From forming the background to religious and historical subjects landscapes gradually became the focus in their own right. The growth in populatity of landscape painting in Italy in the C16 was linked to the flowering of villa life and the pastoral, in 281

landscape art | landscape history

turn inspired by Roman writers like Virgil, creating a demand for landscapes as the main subjects of paintings and leading in the C16 to the work of Albrecht Durer (1471–1528) and Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525–69) and in the C17 to the work of Claude Lorrain (1600–82), Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) and other contemporaries working in the Campagna around Rome. The early C17 Dutch school of landscape art, epitomised by Van Ruisdael (c.1628–82) reflected the distinctiveness of the Dutch countryside and was popular with the prosperous urban Dutch middle classes. English exponents in the C18 included Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88) and in the C19 John Constable (1776–1837) and J.M.W. Turner (1775–1821). In the C19 French artists developed the practice of painting in the open air rather than working in their studios from sketches. French impressionism from the 1860s painted the impressions or sensations created by landscapes rather than their actual details. Post-impressionists included Paul Cezanne (1834–1906) and Vincent Van Gogh (1853–90) (Andrews 1999, Chamda 1991, Novak 1995). Early exponents of landscape art in America included members of the Hudson River School from the 1820s. The Chinese developed a separate tradition of landscape art from the C10 emphasizing the immensity and power of the natural world. The conquest of China by the Mongols in 1297 led to the exile of many nobles from the court, several of whom turned to landscape art (Barnhart et al. 1997, Thorp & Vinograd 2001). Landscape art can also provide factual data about the landscapes they depict, as with C17 frost fairs on the R Thames or early depictions of Australian vegetation (Gaynor & McLean 2008). It also demonstrates how landscapes have been perceived in the past as in the work of Picturesque and Romantic artists in C18–19 Europe and in European colonies (Cosgrove 1984, Cosgrove & Daniels 1988, Schama 1995). The paintings of C19 landscape artists sometimes helped to secure the protection of places such as Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon (Bonyhady 1995, 2000, Orians 1986).

landscape history An approach to history pioneered by W.G. Hoskins, notably in his Making of the English Landscape (1955) but also drawing inspiration from archaeology and geography. It involved ‘reading’ the landscape through a combination of fieldwork and documentary research. Hoskins famously described the English landscape as the ‘richest historical record we possess’ (Appleton 1975, Johnson 2006, Rackham 2000). 282

landscape parks | last glacial maximum

landscape parks Their ultimate origins possibly lie in ancient Mesopotamia. The ornamental landscape parks around country houses in Europe sometimes developed from medieval deer parks but were also created from scratch. In C18 Britain the work of landscape gardeners like William Kent (1685– 1748), Launcelot (Capability) Brown and Humphry Repton was popular and influential.

landslides Occur worldwide ranging from fast-moving debris flows to slow-moving slumps, and from rockfalls to mudslides. They can be triggered by earthquakes, volcanoes or excessive rainfall. Lahars are mudflows of volcanic materials on volcanoes which can move at 60 km/hour or faster. Landslides can also be caused by human interference with slopes such as the construction of roads, dams or housing.

Langdale Pikes English Lake District. The best known of the Neolithic stone axe ‘factory’ sites in Britain. First discovered during the 1940s they have been the subject of several surveys and excavations. A particular band of volcanic tuff (watersorted volcanic ash) was worked over an extensive area by picking up suitable pieces from the screes, quarrying the rockface and excavating shallow caves.The axes were roughly flaked then sent to lowland settlements for polishing. They were exchanged widely throughout Britain. It is assumed that axe-making was undertaken by small groups, in summer only, but over long periods of time.

Lassa fever A viral haemorrhagic fever first described in the 1950s though the virus was not identified until 1969, in Nigeria. It is endemic in many parts if W Africa. Humans are infected by contact with the excreta of infected rodents. The symptoms are varied and hard to identify. It can be treated with anti-viral drugs if caught early. About 500,000 cases a year occur in W Africa.

last glacial maximum 23–18 kya, the coldest period of the last ice age: Wisconsinan in the USA, Weichselian in W Europe.


ˆ tre, Andre´ (1613–1700) Laurentide ice sheet | Le No

Laurentide ice sheet Covered much of the N part of N America during glacial maximum, nearly 4,000 m thick over central Canada. Around 8.2 kya meltwater undermined the retreating Laurentide ice causing a massive outflow of fresh water into the Atlantic. The Atlantic Conveyor Belt ocean circulation slowed and stopped for c.400 years causing a mini-ice age in Europe with colder, drier conditions, severe drought in the E Mediterranean and low lake levels. This cold phase has also been identified in the Caribbean, N Africa and the W Pacific.

laterite In soils a sub-surface layer in deposits of oxides of aluminium and iron which can cause impenetrable pans.

Laxton, Nottinghamshire A unique remnant of medieval open-field cultivation surviving into modern times though only 196 ha remained as open field in 1988 compared with 579 ha in 1635, the remainder having been enclosed.

lazy beds Irregular raised ridges (see ridge and furrow) created by hand cultivation with spade or cas chrom (foot plough) rather than ploughs. Found widely in N and W Highlands of Scotland and W Ireland. Often occurring on steep slopes which could never have been cultivated by a plough, they mark the high point of population in the Highlands in the C18 and early C19 before the Highland Clearances but were also used later within the crofting system.

ˆ tre, Andre´ (1613–1700) Le No French landscape architect, son of a gardener to the French court who followed his father but developed an innovative approach to garden and landscape design. He laid out the gardens at Vaux le Vicomte for Nicholas Fouquet, Louis XIV’s finance minister and then at Versailles, Fontainebleau and many others. His baroque style made extensive use of water features and was widely influential in Europe and beyond.


leaching | leprosy

leaching In soils the removal of minerals by solution from the upper horizons to lower horizons or downslope.

lead-210 dating Lead-210 is a radioactive isotope with a half life of a little more than 22 years and a range of up to 200 years. It is used to date samples more recent than radiocarbon dating can handle, e.g. lake sediments or the uppermost layers of peat bogs.

lentils (Lens culinaris) A cheap and nutritious legume, rich in protein and carbohydrates, one of the earliest crops domesticated in the Neolithic Near East. Cultivated from at least 6000BC the wild ancestor of domesticated lentils (Lens orientalis) occurred over a wide area from N Israel and Syria through S Turkey to N Iraq and Iran. Later they spread further E to India and China (Zohary 1972).

Leopold, Aldo (1887–1948) American naturalist and forester, a major figure in the development of ideas on wildlife management. He spent his career in the American Forest Service and the University of Wisconsin. He argued persuasively that fire had an important natural role in maintaining the forest ecosystems of the American W. In 1924 he convinced the Forest Service to protect as wilderness 0.5 million acres of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest as an official wilderness area. He developed the concept of a ‘land ethic’, a new way of looking at the land with greater reverence for nature. Most of his influential writings were published as articles and papers but were collected after his death into A Sand County Almanac (1949) which has become one of the most influential books on nature conservation, focusing on the need for harmony between people and land.

leprosy A disease caused by bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, the least contagious of the main human diseases in the past but causing severe damage to tissue and bone. It is thought to have occurred in ancient Egypt, India and China and was widespread in medieval Europe causing many isolated leper houses


leprosy | Lewis and Clark expedition

and hospitals to be set up – there were c.19,000 in Europe between the C11 and C16. The disease declined in the later C14 and C15 for no clear reason. The bacterium causing leprosy was only isolated in 1873: the disease was still endemic in Scandinavia in the mid-C19 when its cause was first discovered (Dobson 2007).

levancy and couchancy System of regulating livestock numbers on commons whereby someone with grazing rights could only graze as many animals on the common in summer as they could maintain on their own land during winter. See stinting (Winchester 2000).

levees Embankments of alluvium beside major rivers. Levees form naturally by the deposition of sediments during flooding and can raise river beds above the levels of their flood plains. Levees can be strengthened and enhanced by human activity and breached deliberately to allow the spread of irrigation water (see Mesopotamia). The breaching of levees during floods can cause catastrophic damage as with New Orleans in 2005. Artificial levees are often built or heightened today as a flood protection measure against river or marine flooding. One of the most comprehensive and complex systems protects the banks of the Mississippi. Embankments raised on natural levees may be up to 16 m high. Around New Orleans they protect land which is mostly below sea level. Once levees have been breached by floodwater they can hold it in and delay its removal.

Lewis and Clark expedition In 1803 American president Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase of 2.1 million km2 from France. The country W of the Mississippi was poorly known: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, army officers, were given the task of exploring the area, studying the native inhabitants and the environments of the newly acquired area. They started on 21 May 1805 from St Louis, travelling up the Missouri by boat then overland across the continental divide, returning to St Louis on 23 September 1806 with a wealth of knowledge about the lands W of the Mississippi, having identified many new species of flora and fauna while dealing peacefully with the various peoples they encountered.


lichenometry | lime-burning

lichenometry A way of establishing the age of a surface by the sizes of the lichens growing on them. Lichens, organisms consisting of algae and fungi living together symbiotically, have been used since the 1970s to date the incorporation of boulders into moraines and fluvial deposits. The rate of growth of lichens is slow, regular and measurable. The technique can indicate how long a rock surface has been exposed to the atmosphere after the retreat of a glacier of following deposition in a flood. The rate of growth of lichens in a particular area can be calibrated against dated surfaces such as tombstones. Lichenometry has been particularly useful for dating glacier fluctuations, especially during the Little Ice Age, in areas like Scandinavia, the Rockies, Alaska and New Zealand where documentary evidence and maps are late and sparse (Johnson & Warburton 2002, Roberts 1989).

LiDAR Light detection and ranging, a remote sensing technique which allows the contours of archaeological sites and landscape features to be mapped electronically in great detail.

light plough or ard Early ploughs in the Near E were simple digging sticks fastened to frames so that they could be dragged by humans or animals. They simply scratched shallow grooves in the surface soil, a technique which helped to reduce loss of moisture. The easiest way to plough an area was to cut a series of parallel grooves in one direction and then another at right angles, encouraging fields to be squarish in shape. Such grooves have been found in soils buried below Neolothic chambered tombs in S England. Light ploughs were introduced to Europe by Neolithic farmers who, initially, favoured the lighter, well-drained soils to which ards were suited. They have continued in use in the Mediterranean into modern times.

lime-burning The use of lime in improving agricultural land was known to the Romans and in medieval times in Europe but became more widespread from the C16 and C17. Field lime kilns in N England, common in areas of calcareous rock, date mainly from the era of improvement in the later C18 and early C19. However, recent research has identified substantial numbers of more 287

lime-burning | literature

primitive clamp or sow kilns in parts of N England, built mainly with turf on a stone foundation and dating from the C16 and C17. So great was the demand for agricultural lime that limestone boulders might be pulled out of streams or limestone erratics washed out of the glacial drift in areas where there was no limestone bedrock (Johnson 2010).

limestone pavements A distinctive landform comprising usually horizontal or gently inclined sheets of bare limestone whose joints have been widened by solution into rectilinear patterns of deep cracks or grikes and whose surface is broken up into isolated level blocks, or clints. Limestone pavements in Britain occur within the limits of the Devensian ice sheet which planed off the sheets of limestone. The clints and grikes, and the solution features or karren found on the clints, are thought to have formed under a soil cover by the action of organic acids. Although limestone pavements are a natural phenomenon, their exposure at the surface has often been due to the removal of the vegetation and soil cover by deforestation, cultivation and prolonged grazing. In Britain many pavements had a covering of wind-blown loess which was attractive to early farmers but vulnerable to erosion once disturbed. The former existence of woodland on top of limestone pavements can often be inferred by the presence in the grikes of characteristically woodland species such as Dog’s mercury (Mercurialis perennis). Prehistoric field systems located on bare limestone are a testimony to the scale of change in a fragile environment. Limestone pavements can be very ephemeral features for some are susceptible to being broken up by frost shattering. Many examples in Britain have been severely damaged by the removal of the surface layer of the pavements for rockery stone. See Burren, karst.

literature Literature, whether factual or fiction, can provide a wealth of information on environmental history and change whether deliberately (e.g. John Steinbeck’s evocation of the Dust Bowl era in The Grapes of Wrath) or incidentally through descriptions of environmental conditions in particular places and periods. Classical historians like Herodotus, Thycydides and Procopius provide graphic descriptions of events like the plagues which devastated Athens in 430–426BC or Constantinople in AD541–2. Sources like the Icelandic sagas, though retrospective, allow a reconstruction of early Icelandic society including how resources were exploited (Byock 2002). 288

literature | Little Ice Age (LIA)

Travellers and commentators often left vivid accounts of the places that they visited although allowance has to be made for bias. Even writers of fiction can evoke the environment of a particular place and time: e.g. Dickens’ mid-C19 London or Hardy’s rural Wessex. Scientists and naturalists such as Gilbert White at a local scale and, Alexander von Humboldt in a wider setting, may be more objective (Finch & Elder 1990, Keegan & McKusick 2000, Mabey 1995, Merchant 2003).

Little Ice Age (LIA) First coined by glacial geologist Franc¸ois Matthes in 1939 to refer to renewed glaciation within the last 4,000 years. Now used to refer to a period of cooler, sometimes wetter and stormier conditions between the medieval optimum and the modern warm period, a phase of glacier advance on a much smaller scale than the Pleistocene glaciations. At their most extreme mean temperatures may have been 2– C below those of the present day. In its widest definition it spans the period c.AD1300–1850. There is a lack of agreement regarding its starting date. Suggestions have ranged from the early C14 to the late C16. Some scientists have distinguished a separate ‘medieval glaciation’ between c.AD1200 and 1460, separated from the start of the LIA c.AD1560 by a relatively mild century. Those who favour a long-chronology LIA accept that it was not uniformly and universally cold, with warm years and even decades occurring between colder ones. The coldest phases of the LIA did not necessarily coincide in different areas. Because of these disagreements some scientists question whether the LIA existed at all. It was first identified in Europe from evidence of glacier advances in the Alps and Scandinavia (Ladurie 1971). Since then a wider range of information, including early meteorological records, have been assembled to support its existence. The nadir in some parts of Europe came at the end the C17. In the 1690s cool wet summers brought crop failures and famine to Scandinavia and Scotland (RCAHMS 1997). There are contemporary reports of the sighting of Inuits in kayaks around N Scotland who had seemingly drifted into European waters due to advanced sea ice limits. Glaciers advanced in the Alps, treelines fell by 1–200 m (Grove 1988, Lamb 1977, Parry 1975, 1978, Pfister 1992). In Scotland permanent snow was extensive in the mountains (Manley 1952) and the existence of mini-glaciers in the Cairngorms has even been suggested. The cold character of LIA winters in Europe is epitomised by late C17 frost fairs on the Thames. Professor G. Manley’s Central England Temperature Series shows a sharp rise in mean 289

Little Ice Age (LIA)

annual temperatures in the early C18 following which the LIA seems to have entered a less cool but wetter phase during the C18 with some notable floods, such as one which affected N England in 1771, described as the worst river flood in England in the last 1,000 years (Archer 1992). The LIA has been identified in both N and S America, S Africa, New Zealand, China and Japan. Data from the Quelccaya ice cap show that a cooling phase began c.AD1490 and ended within three years around 1880. In Canada its worst phase was during the 1760s. The causes of the LIA remain as elusive as its chronology. Variations in the atmospheric and ocean circulation in the N Atlantic area, changes in solar radiation and the impact of volcanic eruptions culminating in Tambora, 1815, have all been suggested (Grove 1988) as has a change in solar radiation linked to low sunspot activity in the C17 and C18. Because it occurred relatively recently a wide range of historical sources, ranging from late-medieval manorial accounts to C19 photographs of Alpine glaciers, have been used to try to measure its scale and impact. However, this has focused attention on the relatively literate societies of W and N Europe. An important feature of recent research in Alaska, E Canada, the Rockies, the Andes, Patagonia, Ethiopia and New Zealand has been the identification of a similar cold phase with only minor variations in chronology (Grove 1988). The LIA was evidently a global phenomenon. Whatever the causes of the LIA it is clear that it was not the result of human activity, providing a salutary warning about the range of natural variation which can occur within the climate system. The effects of the LIA on farming and settlement in Europe have been debated. In the 1970s and 1980s it was believed that it had caused major difficulties for agriculture leading to a lowering of cultivation limits throughout W and N Europe and a retreat of settlement from higher, more marginal locations (see Dartmoor, Parry hypothesis). There is, however, a danger of attributing a wide range of social, economic and political changes in early-modern Europe to the LIA without adequate proof. Peaks of witch hunting have been related to the mid-C16 cold phase, claiming that witches were considered to have been responsible for ‘making weather’ (Behringer 1999). Such simple causeand-effect links lack conviction. The impact of the LIA was felt mainly in marginal environments where conditions were already precarious. What is impressive is the resilience of peasants and their farming systems in the face of severe pressures and their ability to bounce back from disasters. 290

Little Ice Age (LIA) | London

In the Scottish Highlands increased storminess during the LIA was probably as important as lower mean annual temperatures in affecting agriculture and settlement. Records of rent arrears show that it stressed the farm economy causing widespread temporary abandonment of land in coastal areas like Kintyre (late C16–early C17) and Tiree (late C17–early C18). In the Highlands agricultural output fell but only on higher ground were cultivation limits affected. In such a high-risk environment society routinely buffered itself against falls in output by a range of strategies such as seeking rent abatements from landowners, the temporary abandonment of land and the use of famine foods (Dodgshon 2005).

loess A friable, silty windblown deposit derived from rock flour deposited in outwash and glacial till, though the term is also used for any unconsolidated non-stratified deposit of silt-sized particles. Identified first on the fringes of the Alps, huge areas occur in China, derived from the steppes and deserts of the interior. The loess plateau of central China has the thickest, most extensive deposits in the world (Pye 1987). In the USA it is extensive in central Alaska, S Idaho, E Washington, NE Oregon and a great belt from the Rockies across the Great Plains to W Pennsylvania. In S America it is thick on the pampas of Argentina and Uruguay. There is relatively little of it in Africa and Australasia. It may have been preferably selected by early farmers because of the ease of cultivation of the light, welldrained soils which developed on it, so that loessic soils are especially likely to have suffered from erosion.

London With a current population of over 7.5 million and still growing steadily, London is one of the world’s major cities. There was no settlement here before the Romans established Londinium as the main port and urban centre in Britannia. The first Roman bridge was close to the later London Bridge. In AD60 Boudicca burnt the city. The wall of the rebuilt city c.AD200 defined the size and shape of London for over 1,000 years. The population of the city in Roman times may have been 45,000–60,000; by AD1000 it may have been as low as 5–10,000, having been burnt by the Danes in 851. In 1176 the first stone bridge over the Thames was built, the only one until 1739. The population had reached c.50–70,000 as late as 1500 and 16 major outbreaks of plague between 1348 and 1665 kept long-term growth rates down, but by 1600 the city had reached c.200,000 and by 1700 550,000. 291

London | Lorrain, Claude (c.1600–82)

Timber-framed houses, densely packed, encouraged the spread of rats carrying bubonic plague and created a fire risk. During the coldest phase of the Little Ice Age the Thames froze in winter on a number of occasions leading to the establishment of ‘frost fairs’ on the ice. Periodic fires in medieval and later times culminated in the Great Fire of 1666 when c.13,000 buildings, including 89 churches, were destroyed. The Thames was also liable to flooding although the construction of embankments and scouring of its channel reduced the risk. The building of the Thames Barrier following the N Sea floods of 1953 was designed to protect the city from major storm surges. Until the late C16 London’s water supply came straight from the Thames and its tributaries plus shallow wells. The city’s first pumped water supply from outside the city came in 1582. The New River scheme (1609–13) brought water from Hertfordshire, 60 km away. Private waterworks companies proliferated in the C18 and 19 but the quantity was often limited and the quality poor. The Metropolitan Water Act 1852 was passed to regulate private water companies. Water-borne diseases remained a serious problem in London in the C18– 19. Cholera killed over 14,000 people in 1852 and more than 10,000 in 1854. By the mid-C19 London was on the verge of an environmental catastrophe due to rapid population growth (twofold 1801–41) putting pressure on public health facilities while old ways of disposing of sewage, burying the dead and supplying drinking water were no longer acceptable. Controls on cesspits meant that sewage was increasingly dumped into the Thames. Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1815–91), chief engineer to the London Metropolitan Board of Works, in response to the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858 when sewage made the Thames unusually smelly, planned a sewer network for central London which helped to end cholera epidemics and had 134 km of brick main sewers and 1,800 km of street sewers. The Thames Embankments were constructed to conceal sections of the main sewers. The system, opened in 1865, was designed to cope with substantial population growth and is still in use.

Lorrain, Claude (c.1600–82) French Baroque era landscape painter who in the 1630s settled in Rome under the patronage of Pope Urban VIII. He became renowned for landscapes of the Roman Campagna, working closely with Nicolas Poussin. His rigid style of composition with side screens framing a scene of alternating bands of light and shadow and foreground figures with water 292

Lorrain, Claude (c.1600–82) | lynchets

features in the middle distance and background hills was widely admired and his works were eagerly collected in the C18 by English travellers on the Grand Tour and were a major influence in the development of the Picturesque aesthetic in Britain.

Los Angeles The second largest city in the USA (3.8 million population), memorably described as 60 suburbs in search of a city. Los Angeles has often been viewed as an urban disaster, epitomising all the problems of urban development including air pollution and urban sprawl within an environment which, despite its Garden of Eden character, has a serious earthquake threat and is liable to periodic drought with major wildfires threatening the city’s outer suburbs, as well as, sometimes, too much water. LA has been fortunate in growing in a period of stability in California’s environmental history. Founded by the Spanish in 1781, Los Angeles and S California more generally were already becoming popular before gold was discovered in the N of the state in 1849. The trans-continental railway arrived 1876 and oil was discovered 1892. Due to its topography and large numbers of vehicles air pollution and smog have been a serious modern problem though pollution levels have been falling in recent years due to lower vehicle emissions. The city has experienced difficulties in securing an adequate water supply, leading to water shortages in some years recently. The spread of suburbs into areas which previously produced oil and gas has led to subsidence and leakage of toxic gases. Wildfires, often fanned by dry offshore Santa Ana winds, threaten rich suburbs as well as poor areas. They are often natural but can be due to arson and to poor management of woodland and scrub vegetation (Chilingar & Endres 2005, Deverell & Hise 2005).

Lyell, Charles (1797–1875) Pioneer geologist: his Principles of Geology (1830) was one of the most influential scientific works of the C19. In it he recognized the role of humans in modifying the environment though he saw the human role as modest compared to nature.

lynchets Breaks of slope caused by the process of cultivation. Ploughed soil accumulates against the upslope side of a boundary and is removed from 293

lynchets | lynx (Lynx lynx, Eurasian Lynx)

the downslope side by soil creep under gravity, creating step-like features. Faint lynchets often define late prehistoric field systems in NW Europe but such features, more clearly marked, are also associated with medieval ploughing. Parallel sets of lynchets running across a slope creating flights of terraces are known as strip lynchets and have been seen as the equivalent, on steeper slopes, of ridge and furrow ploughing.

lynx (Lynx lynx, Eurasian Lynx) Medium-sized feline predator once believed to have been driven to extinction in Britain in prehistoric times: recent radiocarbon dating of bones from Yorkshire caves suggests it may have survived into medieval times. The species survives in the mountainous areas of Europe. There have been recent campaigns, as yet unsuccessful, to reintroduce it to the British uplands.


M machair Sandy coastal grassland rich in calcium from sea shells, located behind sand dunes in W Scotland and Ireland. The total extent globally is c.25,000 ha with 17,500 ha in Scotland and 7,500 ha in Ireland. About 10,000 ha is located in the W Isles especially N and S Uist, Tiree and Coll. This is a very biodiverse ecosystem rich in flowers and birdlife, the existence of which is linked to crofting agriculture: traditionally machair was used as cattle grazing and for low-input cultivation of potatoes, oats, rye and barley.

McNeill, John (1954–) Professor and influential environmental historian, Universiy of Georgetown, USA: author of Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World (2000) and several other major works.

Madeira See Atlantic islands.

Maes Howe Neolithic passage grave on mainland of Orkney, Scotland. One of the most impressive construction feats of its time with a long passage leading into an impressive corbelled central chamber, complete with Viking-age runic graffiti.


maize | Maldives

maize The staple foodstuff of the Americas from Argentina to S Canada at the time of European contact; varieties were developed for every kind of environment from swamplands to hot deserts. It appears to have been domesticated first somewhere in Mesoamerica, possibly from a wild grass. The earliest maize cobs were small but over the centuries larger ones evolved. Maize is a demanding crop, high in carbohydrates and fats but lacks proteins and some vitamins and needs to be combined with crops like beans or squash to provide an effective staple diet. Maize de ocho, adapted to dry climatic conditions, was especially significant for the SW USA spreading into this area by c.1200BC. Maize may be grown as a dry crop or irrigated. Yields can be 70–80 fold from dry and 150 fold from irrigated land with two crops a year sometimes possible. It can, however, rapidly deplete soil nutrients, which in the Americas was often countered by using shifting cultivation. Cultivation of maize in Europe only took off in the C18, but it is now widely grown for food in S Europe and for animal fodder in the NW.

malaria The world’s second greatest disease after tuberculosis, malaria still kills c.2 million a year. It was widespread in temperate zones of Europe and N America into recent decades. It arrived late in Indonesia and the Pacific but destroyed the population of Batavia in 1732. Hopes to use DDT to wipe it out altogether ended when the Anopholes mosquito and its parasite responsible for most of the deaths became immune to it. Today c.40% of the world’s population lives in high-risk areas. There are fears that global warming may see its return to the temperate zone. Malaria is caused by a protozoan transmitted by the bite of the female Anopholes mosquito. Of Old World origin it spread through the Americas and became endemic there. There have been suggestions that the spread of malaria may have contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire. Malaria was a major determinant of health, prosperity and settlement patterns in the ancient Roman world (Sallares 2002). In the most malaria prone areas only slave labour, which was expendable, could be used for agriculture.

Maldives State in the Indian Ocean with some 1,196 islands, mostly under 2 m above sea level but supporting a population of 311,000.The islands are under imminent threat from sea level rise. In 1987 and 1991 storm surges


Maldives | Malthus, Thomas (1776–1834)

flooded a number of the islands including the airport and one-third of the capital. Under the some scenarios most of the country is set to be flooded in the next 50–100 years. The problems of the islands have been worsened by the quarrying of coral offshore for construction work linked to the rapidly developing tourist industry. The cost of protecting the Maldives from projected sea level rise has been estimated at 34% of the country’s GDP (Kahn et al. 2002). Construction projects such as hotels, roads and airports also depend on dredged coral aggregates. This weakens the coral reefs directly. They are also damaged indirectly by pollution killing off the coral, allowing larger waves to attack the reefs. The health of reefs and their ability to keep up with sea level rise may be affected by over-intensive fishing causing further damage to the coral. Coral bleaching episodes occur ˜ o events. It is not clear how reef and beach systems especially during El Nin will respond to sea level rise; more understanding of the dynamics of reef systems is needed (Morner 2004).


Group of small (316 km2) limestone islands in the narrowest part of the Mediterranean. Of great strategic value despite its small size. Occupied since c.5000BC, the period between c.3600BC and 2500BC saw the building of a number of major Neolithic temples. Later occupied by Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, the Knights of St John, French and finally British. Adequate water supplies have long been a problem for agriculture and the population generally. Deforestation, intensive land use and large-scale shooting of migratory birds have put heavy pressure on wildlife. The extent of agricultural land has almost halved since the 1950s but tourism (1 million a year) has helped the economy though leading to overdevelopment and loss of biodiversity with demands for golf courses competing with agriculture.

Malthus, Thomas (1776–1834) Author (1798) of Essay on the Principles of Population which established demography as a serious academic subject. He suggested that human population tended to grow geometrically, the means of subsistence arithmetically but that population growth was liable to various checks including war, famine and disease as well as ‘preventative’ checks, like abstinence from sexual intercourse, other forms of birth control and celibacy which developed from foresight of the difficulties involved in rearing a family. Malthus’ views were coloured by the subsistence crises which occurred in Europe during the C17 and C18. He failed to appreciate 297

Malthus, Thomas (1776–1834) | mammoth steppe

that the Agricultural Revolution in Britain, well underway when he was writing, would allow faster growth in food production while industrialization provided a growing proportion of the population with a source of livelihood outside agriculture. He was right to emphasize the delicate balance between population and carrying capacity, the ability of the environment to support human societies. As a founder of the study of relationships between population and resources he was a major influence on Darwin through emphasis on the influence of different environments on populations and the limitations which the earth imposed on human development (Simmons 1996b). Neo-Malthusian ideas were popular in the mid-C20 with rapid population growth suggesting that Malthusian checks would eventually intervene to limit further rises (Meadowes et al. 1972). Relationships between population and environment are reciprocal and complex. Throughout human history, and whenever population has increased, pasture, woodland and wetlands have come under pressure along with water supply and timber. Malthus’ theory of population suggested that life was a constant struggle. Growing population put pressure on food supplies leading to growing poverty and declining living standards. Population growth led to rises in food prices and falls in real income, in turn causing starvation, increased mortality and a reduction in population size. But if real income fell so would nuptiality, with the age at marriage rising causing fertility and population to drop. Population growth had been slow up to Malthus’ day because technology did not increase food supply enough to feed a rapidly growing population. Population growth could only be fed by taking in more land, which was laborious. From medieval times at least population might grow relatively fast in the short term only to be cut back by malnutrition, starvation or preventative checks.

mammoth steppe A type of vegetation that may have occurred across Eurasia during the last ice age when low precipitation, light snow cover and abundant sunshine in summer produced a biome that could support large herds of megafauna herbivores like mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and reindeer. Mammoths appear to have become extinct between 13 and 11.5 kya save for a population on Wrangel Island in the Canadian Arctic which survived until c.4.5 kya. It is not clear why they survived in this particular remote location but they had become reduced in size, no more than 1.8 m tall compared with the 3–3.6 m of their predecessors. Their late survival may be linked to the continuation of a vegetation type that was richer in grasses and herbs 298

mammoth steppe | Manley, Professor Gordon (1902–1980)

than the boggy tundra which spread over most areas of the arctic as climate began to grow warmer and wetter from c.20 kya. Further S mammoth steppe was lost to encroaching forests (Vartanyan et al. 1993).

Man’s Role in Changing the Face of the Earth Edited by William L. Thomas, an American geographer, in 1956, from papers presented at an international symposium at Princeton, this wideranging survey of environmental history from prehistoric to modern times was an important benchmark in the development of the subject.

mangrove forests A distinctive form of rain forest, mangroves are adapted to estuarine and coastal mudflats. The trees are supported by ‘prop’ or ‘buttress’ roots above the surface of the mud. The root systems trap mud from rivers and help to protect and even extend the coastline. They occur widely in the tropics: the largest area is the Sundurbans at the mouth of the Ganges in India and Bangladesh. They are also extensive in Florida, Malaya, Borneo and New Guinea. Mangrove trees disperse seeds by water and have colonized remote tropical islands. They are vulnerable to felling for fuelwood and for bark used in tanning.

manifest destiny Theory put forward by American historian Frederick Jackson Turner who saw the westward expansion of the USA in the C19 as something inevitable and ordained by God. He saw the expansion in terms of a series of westward waves: fur-traders, hunters, ranchers and finally farmers. Key events were the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the annexation of Texas in 1845, the acquisition of Oregon from Britain in 1848 and of California and New Mexico from Spain, also in 1848. In 1869 came the first transcontinental railway. The process of expansion led to the development of an individualism which promoted democracy. This theory has been heavily criticized, not least because it was silent on the restrictions on female freedom imposed by the American frontier (Merk 1995).

Manley, Professor Gordon (1902–1980) Pioneer British geographer, meteorologist and climatic historian. In 1932 he began collecting meteorological data from the Moor House shooting lodge at 560 m in the N Pennines near the sources of the rivers Tees and S 299

Manley, Professor Gordon (1902–1980) | Maori

Tyne, turning the site into a permanent field station. His most famous book was Climate and the British Scene (1952). One of his greatest achievements was to tie sets of early temperature and rainfall observations together to produce a continuous series from 1659 onwards for central England, the longest set of standardized instrumental recordings in the world (see Central England Temperature Series). The data for average annual temperatures bring out the coldest phase of the Little Ice Age in the late C17, the early C18 recovery and the early C20 warming against which modern trends can be compared (Manley 1953, 1974).

manor A feudal estate which might include one or more townships or vills. A manor might equate with a village and its territory or a village might be split into more than one manor. They spread throughout England after the Norman Conquest though elements of manorialism existed pre-1066. Many manors contained demesne lands under their lords’ direct management, common arable land, meadow and common pasture and woodlands. The manor was supervised by the manorial court. The demesne might be worked by the labour services of peasants. Lords might own many manors, administered by stewards. Customs relating to land tenure might vary between manors. The manorial court comprised the court baron, for free tenants, and court customary, for unfree ones, and regulated the common pastures while the court leet managed the common arable. Manors have sometimes been seen as balanced sustainable systems (Atkins et al. 1998).

Mao Zedong (1893–1976) Leader of the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 and ruler of the People’s Republic of China from 1946. His policies had major detrimental impacts on the Chinese environment including over-cultivation, deforestation, erosion, sedimentation and flooding. His drive for industrialization in the Great Leap Forward (1955–61) led to famines in which 20–50 million may have died (Shapiro 2001, Smil 1993).

Maori Arrived in New Zealand c.AD1250–1300. The founding population is thought to have been quite large, several hundred people at least. New Zealand has a very different environment from the rest of Polynesia – cloudier, colder and very large – stretching the adaptability of the settlers to 300

Maori | marginality

their limits. The temperate forests were poor in large fruits and oil-rich seeds. The humid climate prevented much compensatory development of tubers or starch rich seeds; the dense forests were not attractive for settlement. Only the sweet potato and the dog, out of whatever plants and animals the colonists brought with them, became significant elements of subsistence, and even the sweet potato was confined to the warmer parts of the N Island. The heavy, humid forests of the windward W were rejected in favour of the more open forests of the E and S, favoured by the dozen species of flightless moa which weighed up to 250 kg. The open forests also supported more bracken whose roots provided a major staple. Moa populations in areas like the Canterbury Plains had been virtually wiped out by the late C14; some survived in more remote areas into the later C15. Tree species in the New Zealand forests were mostly ones which were killed by fire and took a long time to regrow. Between AD1300 and AD1450 much of the forests in the E part of S Island and extensive areas of N Island had been cleared by burning. The twin processes of deforestation and the extinction of the moa and other bird species had considerable ecological impacts, including soil erosion and changes in the character of the vegetation (Pawson & Brooking 2002). See New Zealand.

maps See cartography and surveying.

maquis Thorny evergreen scrub in the Mediterranean produced by the overgrazing of woodland by sheep and especially goats and its consequent deterioration. A vegetation type adapted to fire and partly resulting from it.

marginality The condition of being located on the periphery and away from the core in a location or area suffering from limiting factors. These have usually been defined in terms of environmental marginality (too cold/warm, dry/wet, high/low) especially in relation to agriculture. Marginal situations arise because a key environmental variable is lacking, or is reduced by environmental change. In extreme cases environmental change in a marginal environment can trigger the collapse of societies. Long-term environmental change can lead to situations where further sudden short-term changes can tip a society over the edge leading to food shortages 301

marginality | Marsh, George Perkins (1801–82)

and famine. While marginality can lead to vulnerability it can promote adaptability. Marginality can also be economic (though often resulting from environmental marginality). It can also be social or political resulting from distance from centres of power (Cowley 1988, Dodgshon 2004, Mills & Cole 1998). Marginality may also be linked to perceptions. There is a danger of assessing it in modern terms. For example, the NW Highlands and Islands of Scotland are considered marginal today but were not geographically, politically or economically marginal in early medieval times. Deforestation, peat growth and coastal erosion have increased the region’s marginality in recent centuries (Pollard 1997, RCAHMS 1997, Tipping 2002).

marginal land Land which may have been worth improving for agriculture when economic conditions were favourable (e.g. with growing population, rising prices or favourable climatic conditions) but which could become submarginal when adverse environmental and socio-economic conditions occurred. Formerly improved but now abandoned land in marginal areas may show traces of former agriculture and settlement. The concept of marginality may be imposed retrospectively and inaccurately by modern perceptions.

marling Calcareous lake sediments used as an agricultural fertilizer. In England, in areas of boulder clay, the term marl also included unweathered more baserich subsoil. Marl was dug from small circular pits now often forming ponds; these can occur in great density in some areas. Marling is recorded in England from Anglo-Saxon times and continued in use into the C19 (Prince 1964, 1979).

Marsh, George Perkins (1801–82) America’s most influential mid-C19 conservationist; biography by Lowenthal (2000). The first writer to examine systematically the detrimental impacts of human society on nature. The key figure for understanding the development of conservation as a global phenomenon linking traditional interest in conservation which emerged on the periphery of the birth of American environmental thought as well as discourses such as colonial state forestry in British India: perhaps the most important figure in the 302

Marsh, George Perkins (1801–82) | Maya

American environmental tradition (Suitter 2003). Perkins was a polymath, born on the frontier in Vermont, USA, sometime sheep farmer and mill owner near Woodstock, Vermont. He later became a diplomat and lived abroad for much of his life. His experience of the woods of Vermont in his youth made him familiar with the effects of forest clearance and subsequent erosion. In 1861 he was appointed US ambassador to the new kingdom of Italy. There, stimulated by the ‘devastated’ landscapes of the Mediterranean as well as his American experience he wrote Man and Nature or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action (1864). In it he examined the destructive effects of humans from ancient times onwards. He was an immediate ancestor of today’s environmentalists. Recent reappraisals have warned against elevating him too far above his peers (Wynn 2004). Many of his conservation insights were universal but his key warnings against degradation were characteristically American (Hall 2004). His conclusion, that ‘the Earth is fast becoming an unfit home for its noblest inhabitants’ resonates strongly today.

Marshall, Robert (1901–39) American conservationist, founder of the Wilderness Society, who recommended that extensive areas in Alaska should be protected as wilderness.

Massif Central Upland area in S Central France, covering one-sixth of the country. Ranging from the volcanic hills of the Auvergne in the N to the limestone Causses of the SW and the Cevennes overlooking the Mediterranean lowlands. Formerly characterized by poor mixed farming and large-scale seasonal outmigration to lowland farming areas and cities. Spa centres developed in the C19 and after WW2 ski centres were built in the highest areas. In the C19 the coming of the railways encouraged depopulation with much amalgamation of farms; in recent times counter-urbanization from Paris has started to reverse this trend (Fowler 2004).

Maya The collapse of Maya civilization has generated widespread debate and is one of the great controversies of environmental history. The most advanced pre-Columbian American civilization, the only one with extensive deciphered written inscriptions which allow reconstruction of the dynastic history of the Maya kingdoms. Their heartland was an 303


area of tropical rain forest. Rainfall varied from 260 mm a year in the N part of the Yucata´n peninsula to 2540 mm in the S but precipitation totals and their timing were variable. In the lower N Yucata´n the water table was close to the surface but to the S it was too low to reach and the inhabitants of Maya cities had to rely on cisterns and reservoirs. Tikal had reservoirs holding drinking water for 10,000 people for 18 months. Maya agriculture focused on corn for 70% of their diet and beans. With no large domestic animals little meat was available to the bulk of the population and this resulted in protein deficiencies. The humid climate also made it hard to store food for more than a year. The Maya had no draught animals so that food could only be transported by humans. This in turn limited the size and populations of Maya cities and their hinterlands (Diamond 2005). The Maya had some of the most sophisticated agriculture in the Americas. They drained swamps and created raised agricultural beds and terraces when slash and burn agriculture would no longer supply enough food for the growing population (8–10 million c.AD800). The Maya originated c.2600–2500BC. They seem to have been related to the Olmecs of S Guatemala and gradually spread over much of what is now Guatemala, Yucata´n, W Honduras, Belize and El Salvador over 400–500,000 km2. They adopted and improved on many ideas from the Olmecs, such as writing, an accurate calendar and a complex religion. From c.2000 BC they developed agriculture. Towns began to appear from c.500BC and from c.300BC Maya society became more complex, with a hierarchical system of government based on the rule of kings and nobles. Cities developed with elaborate ceremonial centres containing palaces and pyramid-temples, squares, ball courts and inscribed stone commemorative pillars. Their culture reached its peak c.AD600–800 with sophisticated astronomy and mathematics, hieroglyphic writing and monumental architecture which was all the more impressive for being constructed without metal tools. At its peak the Maya empire may have had 15 million inhabitants. However, when the Conquistadors arrived there were only a few hundred thousand of their descendants left. Between c.AD800 and AD900, Maya civilization declined rapidly and dramatically: no new monuments and inscriptions were created in most cities suggesting that a collapse of the ruling dynasties had occurred. There are signs of massive falls in both urban and rural populations. Many cities were abandoned to be lost for centuries in the encroaching jungle. Some were reoccupied but only by squatters camping out in the ruins of the great ceremonial squares. Estimates of the population decline, necessarily imprecise, vary from 66% to over 90%. Disease, overpopulation, warfare 304


between city states, invasions from outside, deforestation and environmental degradation have all been suggested as possible causes. Early explanations emphasized single factors. More recent complex theories suggest that a range of influences undermined Maya society (Lowe 1985). Recent evidence suggests that environmental factors were major contributors to the catastrophe. A severe drought is the prime suspect, although its effects may have been worsened by over-intensive cultivation already on the point of collapse (Haug et al. 2003). Much of the recent evidence for environmental disaster comes from lake sediments. Cores from lakes in Yucata´n show variations in oxygen isotope ratios extracted from the shells of ostracods. These were caused by variations in the balance between precipitation and evaporation in the lake, providing a measure of rainfall. From this evidence periods of drought have been identified at c.AD585, 862, 986, 1051 and 1391, the second of these coinciding with the Maya collapse. A core from Lake Chichancanab in Yucata´n has revealed variations in gypsum levels which reflect evaporation and thus, indirectly, fluctuations in rainfall. Between AD800 and AD1000 the lake was low indicating an exceptionally dry period. In the Cariaco Basin, N Venezuela a drier phase appears to have set in from c.AD750. This was punctuated by three periods of severe drought starting around AD810, 860 and 910, each lasting several years (Hodell et al. 1995, 2001). These lines of evidence all point to a serious drought having occurred at the peak of Maya civilization. But this does not prove causation. However, Maya archaeology is revealing other periods of instability, economic dislocation and population decline which occurred in conjunction with evidence of severe droughts, suggesting a more regular pattern in which the C9 disaster, while severe, was not unique (Gill 2001). There is evidence of a phase of depopulation in pre-Classic Maya times with a contemporary drought affecting much of the Maya heartland for up to 50 years. Between c.AD536 and AD590 there was a period of war and social disruption which has been labelled the Hiatus during which several cities were abandoned. A post-classic phase of abandonment c.AD1110–1160, affecting cities on the Yucata´n coast, has also been identified. But was drought the sole cause of the collapse? It is likely that agriculture was already under pressure before the worst droughts. Pre-Classical Mayan agriculture appears to have been of swidden type with areas of forest being cleared and cropped for between two and five years before being left for several years to recover. With rapid expansion of population, however, agriculture had to intensify. Shortening the fallow cycle may have been sustainable for a while but soil exhaustion, plant 305


diseases, insect pests and weed infestation would have increased markedly. More intensive farming was developed, including double cropping in moist areas, terracing and the construction of raised fields in low swampy areas (Beach et al. 2002). There were serious weaknesses in the Mayan economic system. The thinness of the tropical soils was one. Another was the difficulty of supplying the cities with food due to the lack of draught animals. This limited the distance over which cities could be supplied while increasing their vulnerability if the system broke down. There may have been tensions between the need for labour in the fields and in monumental construction projects. Traditional Mayan agriculture may have supported up to 60 persons per km2, rural population densities at the height of Maya culture may have reached 200, a very high level for a population with a Neolithic technology. There are signs that Maya society may have reached an unsustainable level before the mid-C10 drought set in. Environmental degradation due to deforestation, erosion and soil exhaustion may have been widespread. Limitations of water storage may also have seriously reduced the ability of the Maya to respond to an environmental crisis but its social and political structures may not have helped either. One school of thought blames the collapse entirely on internal, structural causes (Lowe 1985). A network of small, independent city states developed, competing for resources and often in conflict. During the Classic period many cities became dominated by a few major power blocs. Maya civilization at its peak may have been dominated by two powerful city states, Tikal and Calakmul, engaged in protracted conflict (Harrison et al. 2000). The disintegration of society could also have occurred from the bottom upwards. The downtrodden rural population may have risen against their masters in the cities where they had tried to squeeze too much labour and tribute from them. It may well have been that in the face of environmental stress the secular and religious leaders of Mayan society forfeited the trust of the bulk of the population as a result of their inability to cope with the crisis. Many archaeologists believe that warfare was a significant factor behind the Maya collapse, with Tikal and Calakmul fighting each other to a standstill and Maya society then disintegrating into regional kingdoms engaged in intensive petty warfare. From c.AD750 there is increasing evidence of malnutrition in the skeletons of non-elite groups with a decrease in stature which may indicate a lack of animal protein in their diet. The impact of drought, possibly exacerbated by structural factors within Mayan society, had profound effects. For a century or so a few survivors 306

Maya | medieval climatic optimum

seem to have continued living in some of the cities. In N Yucata´n, along the Caribbean coast and around inland lakes Maya populations survived until the arrival of the Spanish but one estimate suggests that the overall population may have been cut by around 85% (Coe 2000, Culbert 1973, 1988, Hosler et al. 1977, Martin 2000, Tainter 1998).

meadows A source of seasonal grazing, especially for cattle, and of hay for winter fodder. Hay could be produced in wet riverside meadows or from dry upland pastures. Grazing in them was strictly controlled and meadows were regularly manured and sometimes limed to maintain their fertility. Traditionally managed meadows were extremely biodiverse and especially rich in flowers. Hay was generally cut in late June and July in England, favouring early flowering plants. England has lost 95% of its traditional flower-rich meadows since 1947 due to the use of sown rather than natural grass, artificial fertilizers and cutting grass wet and early for silage. In Britain grants have been available in Environmentally Sensitive Areas and under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for maintaining traditional meadows. From the C16 many downland pastures were turned into water meadows by the construction of irrigation systems to allow two or even three crops of hay each year (Cook & Williamson 2007).

medieval climatic optimum Generally dated to c.AD900–1300. The medieval optimum in Europe, especially the C12 and C13, saw temperatures return to conditions more comparable with the postglacial climatic optimum. Treelines in the Alps were 100–210 m higher than in later centuries. Vineyards were also 1– 200 m higher and 3–5– further N than in later times. Alpine passes were opened due to glacier retreat, encouraging trade (Grove & Switsur 1994, Ogilvie 1991). In Britain settlement and cultivation rose to c.400 m in upland areas like Dartmoor. In Scandinavia cultivation was 1–200 m higher up valleys and hillsides in central Norway than in earlier times. A N shift of depression tracks and sea ice limits encouraged voyages in the North Atlantic, first by Irish monks, then by Norsemen, who colonized Faroe, Iceland, Greenland and even, temporarily, Newfoundland (McGovern 1981, Jones 1986) (see L’Anse aux Meadows). The medieval climatic optimum has also been identified in California and Australia, New Zealand and the SW Pacific. Between AD1140 and AD1300 average temperatures were c.0.8– C higher than in the first half of the C20 with 307

medieval climatic optimum | Mediterranean

wheat being grown as far N as Trondheim. Summer temperatures in Britain were 1– C warmer than in AD800–1000 and rainfall 10% lower.

manorial records A useful source of information (e.g. on crop yields and weather events such as droughts, severe snowfalls and storms), together with their impact on society in medieval and post-medieval times (Titow 1960).

Mediterranean An inhabited landscape for many millennia, shaped substantially by its inhabitants who in turn influenced the region’s distinctive climate and environment. 3,600 km · 1,100 km, covering 25, million km2 with long irregular coastlines. The Mediterranean is almost landlocked: the Straits of Gibraltar are less than 14 km wide so the sea is isolated from the tides of the world’s oceans. Mountainous topography and seasonal rainfall encourage thin soils, easily eroded when exposed, but relatively fertile, especially Terra fusca (black) and Terra rossa (red) soils over limestone. Mediterranean ecosystems contracted during the last glacial but there is no evidence of clear glacial refuge areas. The N shores of the Mediterranean c.12000BP were dominated by steppe with evergreen oak (Quercus ilex-type) in the Sierra Nevada. The main glacial refuge for Mediterranean flora may have been in the E rather than the W Mediterranean. In the early-midHolocene steppe was replaced by sub-humid forests dominated in places by conifers but mostly deciduous broad-leaved trees. The classic Mediterranean ecosystem of evergreen forests, shrub and heath was not widespread (Roberts 1998). It has been suggested that Mediterranean scrub and heath are only maintained by human impact, a plagioclimax which would otherwise become woodland (Rackham & Moody 1996). It is widely accepted that modern Mediterranean landscapes are degraded, deforested, severely eroded versions of what was once a greener, more fertile, moister environment (Brandt & Thornes 1996). According to this argument Mediterranean forests, unlike so many at the present, were composed of tall trees which, once cut down, exposed the topsoil to severe erosion causing land degradation and even a drying of the climate. This belief has been subconsciously influenced by the works of French artists like Claude Lorrain who portrayed the landscapes of classical Rome and Greece as green and lush like those of their native country (Shipley & Salmon 1996, Skydsgaard 1993). The well-wooded character of the ancient Mediterranean also seems to be confirmed by the 308


accounts of classical writers. Events like the Greek victory over the Persian fleet at Salamis in 480BC and the Turkish defeat at Lepanto in AD1571 seem to emphasize the profligate use of timber for ship construction, not to mention building construction or the production of charcoal for fuel (Hanson 1998). Many modern studies of Mediterranean vegetation have defined ‘forest’ in a narrow way and have not included maquis or savanna whose character derives from grazing management. There has been a failure to appreciate that when grazing pressure is reduced, rapid tree growth can occur in the Mediterranean, even today (Grove & Rackham 2001). Once deforested, Mediterranean lands, their steep slopes often made even more unstable by complex geology and instability resulting from earthquakes, have been seen as especially vulnerable to erosion by flash floods. Modern landscapes have been seen as the end product of massive ecological degradation which was especially prevalent in classical, medieval and post-medieval times. It has been claimed that extensive areas were depopulated due to deforestation and subsequent erosion, sometimes quite recently (McNeill 1992). But often the evidence has been taken at face value, with processes being inferred rather than convincingly demonstrated. The amount of timber used for shipbuilding during classical times and later is easily exaggerated. Greek and Roman galleys were lightly built for speed rather than massively timbered for strength. Shipbuilding timber was frequently brought from a considerable distance, sometimes from outside the region. It is necessary to consider whether shipbuilding actually consumed timber faster than existing woods could replace it. Periods of political disruption, when fleets and armies were mobilised, were not necessarily detrimental to forests. Men rowing war galleys were not burning wood for charcoal or clearing trees for agriculture, while armies tended to eat the goats that have been blamed for so much damage to woodlands in this region. Periods of war might encourage woodland regeneration (Rackham & Moody 1996). The productivity of classical agriculture has also been substantially overestimated. N Africa, the so-called ‘granary of Rome’, has been assumed, probably mistakenly, to have possessed a moister climate in Roman times than now, and a highly productive agricultural system. In addition to shipbuilding the other favoured agent of destruction of woodlands in the Mediterranean from classical times onwards has been the production of charcoal, especially as a fuel for smelting iron and other metals. The production of charcoal did not, however, usually involve permanent 309


clearance and destruction of woodlands. Methods of sustainable woodland management using coppicing and pollarding were widely practised. Coppiced woodland produced a much greater volume of wood per unit area than clear-felled mature forest. Some coppice stools and pollards surviving today in the Mediterranean are over 2,000 years old (Grove & Rackham 2001). Pollarding and coppicing not only protected woods from destruction but encouraged them to expand when demand for charcoal was high. Circumstances where the expansion of iron production was limited by a shortage of charcoal may have been due to the growth of demand outstripping the existing fuel supply rather than a shortage of fuel caused by a reduction in the extent of woodlands (Hughes 2005, McNeill 1992, Rackham & Moody 1996). Deforestation and erosion in the Mediterranean due to human agency has been assumed more frequently than demonstrated. Erosion must be dated securely before links with human activity can be confidently asserted. Often it has merely been stated that erosion resulted from vague, unspecified human activities, or an ‘expansion’ of agriculture without the detailed mechanisms being clearly specified (Rackham & Moody 1996, Wells 1993). Erosion has usually been studied by looking at the deposition of eroded material at the foot of slopes, in valleys, lakes or as deltas (Delano-Smith 1979). But establishing when such deposits were laid down and identifying their sources is harder. Sequences of deposits in Mediterranean valleys were originally divided into the Older and Younger Fills (VitaFinzi 1969). The deposition of these was thought to span long periods of time. The Older Fill, which sometimes contained Palaeolithic implements, seemed to date from the late Pleistocene and was much thicker than the overlying Younger Fill, which contained artefacts suggesting dates of deposition between c.AD500 and AD1500. More recent research has indicated that the Younger Fill accumulated over a longer period than had originally been accepted, stretching back in some cases to the Bronze Age (Chester & James 1991, Lewin et al. 1995). Linking the Younger Fill to erosion resulting from human activity is difficult. When phases of erosion have been dated reasonably closely they do not necessarily coincide with periods when human activity is known to have been substantial, as during classical, Hellenistic and Roman times (Shaw 1981). In many areas there seems to be a concentration of dates in medieval and post-medieval times rather than prehistory. There is often no correlation between phases of deposition and population growth which are likely to have impacted on the woodland cover and the rate of soil erosion. The dates of the Younger Fill vary from one location to another and match 310


more closely with periods of abnormal weather conditions (Grove & Rackham 2001). In the Mediterranean, where flash floods are major natural hazards, much of the erosion and deposition results not from average winter storms but the kind of flood that might occur once every two centuries or longer (Grove & Rackham 2001). During the Little Ice Age major floods were localized so that the Younger Fill would have been laid down at different times in different areas depending on local flood chronologies. One of the most convincing arguments against agriculture or other forms of human agency causing erosion is that the accumulation of Younger Fill stops towards the end of the C19 when population in many regions was at a maximum (DelanoSmith 1979). Great importance has been attached to the intake of marginal land for agriculture in the nineteenth century, permanently damaging mountain environments (McNeill 1992). Examples of environmental damage from the C19 do occur. The Sierra de Ga´dor in S Spain, between the 1830s and 1860s, was the world’s leading producer of lead. Mining stimulated an expansion of cultivation and large-scale logging which created a devastated landscape; but this was an extreme example (McNeill 1992). But Grove and Rackham (2001) do not necessarily see mountain ecosystems as fragile. Mediterranean climate is often assumed to have been constant throughout the Holocene. It has only recently been fully appreciated that Mediterranean vegetation has only had a few thousand years of climatic stability to which, in some cases, it may not yet have fully adjusted. During the early Holocene Mediterranean climate was moister than today with less marked seasonal contrasts. Vegetation then may have included fewer areas of evergreen forest and more deciduous woodland, which was killed off by a change to a hotter, drier climate. A true Mediterranean climate seems to have developed only in the Bronze Age with N European trees disappearing from areas like Crete and S Greece. Some of the changes in vegetation over the last few thousand years represent a delayed response to climatic changes rather than to human impacts (Grove & Rackham 2001). The two most important events in the environmental history of the Mediterranean during the Holocene were the increasing aridity of the climate from the 5th million BC and the spread of agriculture and pastoralism, not by Neolithic farmers, whose impact on the landscape seems to have been comparatively limited, but during the Bronze Age. The effect of early agriculture on the landscape is hard to distinguish in pollen diagrams from natural changes at the end of the last glaciation but by c.4000BP the scale of human impact becomes clear with the development of 311

Mediterranean | megafauna extinctions

the Mediterranean ‘triad’ of wheat, olives and wine plus trees such as walnuts and citrus fruits (Grove & Rackham 2001, Thirgood 1981). By classical times Mediterranean vegetation appears to have been very much like that of today. Much of the making of the Mediterranean landscape occurred before written records began. Changes from classical times onwards were less dramatic than those of earlier times. The landscape of classical Greece was more like that of Greece in the C19 than that of early prehistoric times. Continuity rather than change has been the keynote during the last 2,000 years with depletion and regrowth of woodland being much more characteristic than total destruction. Grazing in the Mediterranean, now and in the past, is not haphazard but carefully controlled with animals being moved on regularly before they can do too much damage to the vegetation of any locality. The resilience of Mediterranean forests is demonstrated by the rapid rate at which abandoned cultivation terraces have been re-colonized by trees since the start of depopulation during the C20. Tourism developments, new roads and intensive agriculture have affected some areas but many parts of the Mediterranean are more rather than less wooded than a century ago: as agriculture has contracted and numbers of sheep and goats declined trees have spread rapidly.

megafauna extinctions ‘Megafauna’ are defined as animals with body weights of over 45 kg. One of the greatest puzzles of the end of the last ice age is the large number of extinctions of megafauna species which occurred, particularly in the Americas but also in Europe and Australia (Roberts et al. 2001). Debate has centred around climatic and other environmental changes versus hunting by humans. The most recent explanation has been a comet striking the atmosphere over N America c.13000BP causing the extinction of both the megafauna and their Clovis hunters. This theory does not explain extinctions elsewhere though. In Australia they occurred between 50 and 40 kya, after the arrival of humans. In N America there was a rapid extinction of many species of large mammals c.12 kya. Computer models have suggested that quite small populations of hunters could have caused these extinctions but why did some species die out while bison, elk and moose survived? In Siberia a giant deer (Megaloceroa giganteus) survived until 7.7 kya. Woolly mammoths inhabited Wrangel Island 80 km N of the Arctic Circle until 4 kya. At the end of the Pleistocene some 200 genera of megafauna became extinct. In N America the animals which became extinct included woolly 312

megafauna extinctions

mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi), mastodon (Mammut americanum) and woolly rhinoceros (Coleodonta antiquitatus). Among predators the giant short-faced bear (Actodus simus) was 30% larger than a modern grizzly. Big cats included the American scimitar-toothed cat (Homotherium serum) and the sabre toothed cat (Smilodon fatalis). Other large creatures included four species of ground sloths, armoured glyptodonts like Glyptotherium floridanum, the giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus) and the native American horse (Equus occidentalis) (Fagan 1987). These extinctions occurred c.14–10 kya but many seem to have been concentrated within a 500-year period. One possible cause was rapid warming at the end of the ice age and the associated changes in habitats. The animals involved were mainly inhabitants of the tundra, an ecosystem which was gradually squeezed out as the forests expanded. Another possible mechanism may have been droughts causing crises in water supply for larger animal species (Gillespie et al. 1978). Even so, a similar sequence of climatic events had occurred at the start of the previous interglacial some 130 kya and after even earlier glaciations but without the same mass extinction of species. Human impact, the ‘Pleistocene overkill hypothesis’, is another favoured explanation. Since the mid-C19 stone tools have been found in association with now-extinct animals such as mammoths indicating that Palaeolithic humans hunted them. More recently, increasing appreciation of the sophistication of their hunting skills had led to growing interest in the possibility of human interference as a major cause of megafauna extinctions. According to this theory the extinctions were closely related to the advent of the Clovis culture in N America c.10.8–11.3 kya, marking what many archaeologists consider to have been the first appearance of humans in the Americas. The spread of the Clovis people was followed by many species extinctions within 1,000 years or so. When humans first crossed the Beringia land bridge they found themselves in a country full of animals which had never experienced humans and were easy prey for skilled hunters. This abundance of food stimulated human population growth, which hastened the megafauna extinctions. A human population growth rate of 2.4% per annum on a front moving forward at 16 km a year could have covered the distance from Canada to Mexico in 350 years. The Clovis people were effective hunters. Their equipment is thought to have included a spear or dart thrower which increased the accuracy and range of their weapons. That hunting was a key factor in causing the extinctions is suggested by finds of kill sites where 313

megafauna extinctions | Merchant, Professor Carolyn (1936–)

huge heaps of bones have been discovered at the base of cliffs, over which stampeded herds seem to have been driven. Another possible indirect influence is human modification of the original vegetation cover by the use of fire, with the major disturbance of existing ecosystems. Yet many animals which figure prominently in such kill sites, like the North American bison (Bison bison), did not become extinct (Beck 1996). Perhaps the appearance of humans in a rapidly-changing environment affected the viability of some species in ways which have yet to be identified. In Africa, where hominids had been part of the ecology of the savanna grasslands for millions of years, there were no major megafauna extinctions. But separating human and natural influences on environmental change is difficult even at the start of the Holocene (Roberts 1998). A combination of climate change and human disturbance may explain at least some aspects of the changes. Another suggestion is that human settlers from Asia brought with them a virus which killed off many mammal species that had no resistance to it. It might have been carried by the dogs, rats, birds and parasites that accompanied the first human arrivals from Siberia. Canine distemper and rinderpest are known to have caused severe reductions, though not full-scale extinctions, in more modern animal populations, but more likely candidates are leptospitosis, a bacterium spread in rat urine, and the rabies virus. The current consensus is towards climatic change as the main cause, with the activity of hunters possibly quickening the end of a few species which were already under pressure as a result of environmental change (Haynes 1991, MacPhee & Marx 1997, 1999, Martin 2005, Owen-Smith 1987, Payton 2001, Stuart 2004).

megalopolis Areas where cities have grown together to form urbanized regions larger than conurbations, originally applied by geographer Jean Gottman (1961) to the NE USA where an 800 km long urban area stretches from Boston to Washington.

Merchant, Professor Carolyn (1936–) American environmental historian at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a key figure in the development of the subject.


Meseta | Mesolithic

Meseta The high central plateau of Spain, covering 40% of the country. From 400– 1,000 m high and divided in two by the Sierra de Guadarrama and Sierra de Gredos the landscape of the Meseta is open, treeless and stark, grazed by large flocks of sheep.

Mesolithic In NW Europe, during the 2,000 years or so after the end of the last glaciation, the tundra which had supported the Pleistocene megafauna and their Palaeolithic hunters gradually gave way to deciduous forests inhabited by communities of hunter-gatherers with a technology of stone tools that has been termed Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. The emergence of Mesolithic cultures occurs at about the same time as the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene. Although the temperate forests were basically stable ecosystems at a broad scale, the idea that they developed into a uniform and unchanging ‘climax’ vegetation is misleading. Local natural disturbances in the woodland caused change as, at a larger scale, did small variations in average temperatures and rainfall. The wildwood, as it has been termed, was probably a complex patchwork of different combinations of species reflecting variations in soils, drainage, slope and altitude. Certain species were particularly common, however, over wide regions. In Britain oak and lime were of major importance in the lowlands of England, with oak and hazel at higher altitudes. The treeline stood a good deal higher than today – at nearly 550 m on Dartmoor where trees gradually thinned out into birch and hazel scrub at the highest levels. In the N Pennines upland forest reached as high as 760 m, almost to the summit plateau of Cross Fell (Simmons 2003). The animals which ranged through this forest included wild cattle (Bos primigenius), remnant populations of reindeer and moose, red deer (Cervus elaphus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa), wolf and bear. Evidence of the lifestyle of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, how they impacted on the environment around them and how they were in turn affected by environmental change is scanty. They did not build substantial dwellings or monuments and their traces are often only a scatter of flint tools and charcoal fragments. Many of our ideas about how they lived have come from analogies with more recent hunter-gatherer societies. These, however, have tended to survive in harsh and marginal environments, lacking the variety of food sources that characterized the deciduous woodlands of Europe. The lifestyle of Mesolithic hunting bands has often 315


been interpreted as one of small, mobile groups carefully exploiting seasonally fluctuating resources. Other models have suggested the more permanent occupation of particular sites as base camps, especially where the resources of coasts and freshwater areas were added to those of the woodlands. Analysis of human bones from a Mesolithic site associated with huge shell middens on the island of Oronsay, Scotland has indicated that marine resources supplied much of their protein, hinting at the possibility of year-round occupation (Richards & Mellars 1998). Such bases were supplemented by temporary camps, associated with seasonal activities and tasks, in other parts of the territory of each hunting group (Jones 1976). It is thought that these hunter-gatherers were good practical ecologists. Rather than hunting animals indiscriminately, bone assemblages at some of their campsites suggest the preferential culling of older male animals, those least likely to have affected the future breeding success of the herds on which the hunters depended (Edwards & Ralston 1997). There are also indications that they practiced sophisticated environmental management, including clearance of forests by fire or other means to cause the spread of lower shrubs which would have attracted the animals they hunted, or to create clearings which would be colonized by nut-bearing hazel trees. Compared with the big-game hunters of the tundra, Mesolithic huntergatherers might seem to have had a more attractive, less dangerous existence. But their woodland environments were not immune to change. The rate of warming at the start of the Holocene, during early Mesolithic times, was far greater than anything in modern times, a rise of up to 2.8– C per century. Resulting from this came major changes in vegetation patterns and rapid readjustments of sea level. Not only did forests push N and uphill at the expense of the tundra as conditions warmed, the botanical composition of the forest continued to change as forests adjusted to rising temperatures and developing soils. The hunter-gatherers for much of this period would have been aware, even within a single lifespan, of significant changes in the environment around them and would doubtless have heard of more major transformations from folk memories handed down from one generation to another. To what extent such changes required them to modify their lifestyles and subsistence strategies is unclear. The fauna of the deciduous woodlands was more dispersed, less easily located than the big game that had roamed the tundra. However, mixed deciduous woodland offered a huge range of edible plants as well as nuts, berries, fruits, fungi, the rhizomes of bracken and the roots of bulrushes, all of which could be collected with relatively little effort. 316


Mesolithic groups had to survive a lean season in late winter and early spring; it may have been at this time that resources of freshwater and coastal zones were particularly important. The vegetable element in Mesolithic diets has probably been underestimated as such material is rarely preserved as well as animal bones or the remains of shellfish. Seasonal rhythms of plant growth and animal movements must have strongly influenced Mesolithic lifestyles. In NE England known Mesolithic sites occur in two distinct altitudinal bands: close to sea level and on high ground from 250–500 m. In the summer small parties of hunters seem to have followed their quarry up to the edge of the forests where the trees thinned into a more open scrub of birch and hazel providing cover for the hunters but at the same time giving clearer views of their quarry than under a continuous canopy of woodland. In winter people may have congregated in larger groups at lowland camps, often in coastal or wetland areas where shellfish, fish, wildfowl, seabirds with the occasional bonus of a stranded whale, provided a more varied diet. One of the best-known Mesolithic occupation sites is Star Carr, E Yorkshire. It took the form of a campsite covering c.250 m2 with a scatter of antler, bone and flint tools and bones of animals. A brushwood platform of axe-felled birch trees and branches lay between the settlement and a lake. The site was located in birch woodland with hazel and pine nearby, beside a lake with occupation dating to c.10500BP. Bones of red deer predominated but wild cattle, moose, roe deer and wild boar were also found, some bird remains but no fish. Occupation in summer seems likely, and perhaps at other seasons too. Pollen suggests that, even at this early date, opening out of the woodland and burning of heath had commenced (Evans 1975, Mellars & Dark 1998). Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were once considered to have had no more impact on their surroundings than the animals they hunted. Archaeologists have revised this view, arguing that the modification and management of woodlands in Europe began well before the introduction of farming. Opening out the tree cover had a range of effects, including reducing the amount of water lost from vegetation and soil by evapotranspiration. This in turn increased runoff to streams by as much as 40%, resulting in soil erosion, a higher incidence of flash floods and the deposition of colluvium at the base of valley sides and of alluvium lower down the valleys. Evidence of woodland clearance does not automatically indicate human activity: variations in the woodland cover could have occurred naturally as a result of disease, windthrow and fires resulting from lightning strikes. 317


More specific evidence is needed, such as finds of Mesolithic tools associated with charcoal layers (Atherden 1992). In late Mesolithic times (8500–5500BP) the evidence for the deliberate clearance of woodland becomes more abundant: pollen diagrams from peat cores show that tree pollen is replaced at some sites by that of plants of open ground. The clearance and then gradual recovery of oak woodland allowed other tree species such as ash and hazel to spread. Much of the modification of vegetation occurred at the upper edges of the woodland where fire was used to open out the tree cover and, in some cases, to drive it downwards. In some cases such clearances were associated with the formation of blanket peat. The clearing of vegetation also affected upland soils. Fine charcoal produced by burning blocks the pores in the soil, increasing the amount of surface water. The removal of trees, which can transpire large quantities of water, also encouraged soils to become wetter, generating more surface runoff. Depending on the topography this might have encouraged peat formation or more rapid soil erosion. The first extensive areas of heather moorland date back to this period. Woodland regeneration following such burning was partial, if it occurred at all, and once heather moorland was established it tended to remain the dominant vegetation until modern times (Simmons 2003). It is difficult to separate human impacts from natural causes. Mesolithic modification of the vegetation cover is thought by some archaeologists to have been achieved by fire rather than felling. At some Mesolithic sites layers of charcoal, suggesting fire, coincide with an expansion of hazel – a fire-resistant tree. This may have been done deliberately to increase the supply of hazel nuts, or to produce more browsable vegetation at a suitable height for deer. Deliberate coppicing of hazel to maximize nut supply is also possible. It has even been suggested that some hunting groups may have partially domesticated deer herds, lopping off branches to provide leaf fodder for them. In Scotland, patterns of vegetation change in the Outer Hebrides and Shetland suggest grazing by deer in islands where the animals had not managed to penetrate after the last glaciation. It is possible that Mesolithic groups deliberately introduced deer from the mainland in order to increase food supply there. This small-scale Mesolithic modification of the landscape would, if carried out over long periods, have had a significant impact. Forest burning in the uplands may have encouraged the accumulation of peat between 7000BC and 5000BC as soils became more waterlogged. In areas like the North York Moors, parts of the Pennines and Dartmoor the first signs of human interference with the vegetation cover coincide with the growth of 318

Mesolithic | Mesopotamia

blanket peat on watersheds, with Mesolithic flints being found at the junction between the original mineral soil and the lowest levels of peat (Affleck et al. 1998, Evans 1975).

Mesopotamia The basin of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, mainly in modern Iraq, was a cradle of early civilization based on irrigated agriculture. It was superficially a less attractive environment than the Fertile Crescent as away from the main rivers desert conditions were widespread. By 5200BC the Ubaid culture had towns covering c.10 ha with populations of up to 4,000. Around 3800BC the climate became drier for c.1,000 years with rain arriving after the harvest. By 3100BC the S cities had become the world’s first civilization (Liverani 1993, Maisels 1993, 1999, Postgate 1993). There is a lack of agreement regarding which was the world’s first true town. Cases can be made for Jericho and more ¨ yu ¨ k in Anatolia which, by about 6000BC, may convincingly for C ¸ atal Ho have housed c.5,000 inhabitants. Neither of these early settlements, even if they were true towns, led to a continuous urban tradition. In Mesopotamia true urban society rose and survived for 3,000 years before becoming absorbed into the wider societies of classical Greece and Rome which were their inheritors. The development of agriculture totally changed human needs for water. During the 7th million BC farming had begun to move out of the Zagros Mountains into the N part of the Mesopotamian plain where, in the upper Tigris valley, there was still enough rainfall to allow conventional agriculture. Around 5800BC, after the Younger Dryas event, moistureladen westerly winds returned to Mesopotamia leading to an expansion of agriculture. The earliest known settlements in the Tigris-Euphrates area date from this period. Between them and c.4000BC precipitation was 25–30% greater than now. In N Mesopotamia agriculture was fed by winter and spring rains as well as irrigation. Within a few centuries it had spread to the S where agriculture was possible only with irrigation. By c.6000–5500BC, agricultural communities had begun to settle in the middle Tigris, beyond the limits of rain-fed agriculture, so that crops could only be raised using simple irrigation systems to draw water from the rivers. The upper Euphrates, unlike the upper Tigris, had a very dry climate and here too agriculture was impossible without irrigation. Between 5500BC and 4000BC what has become known as the Ubaid culture became established not only throughout N Mesopotamia but also in the drier S. 319


A number of later cities in S Mesopotamia had significant concentrations of population during the Ubaid period. Typical were settlements like Eridu which covered 10 ha and which may have had c.4,000 inhabitants. During the succeeding Uruk period (c.4000–3200BC. the first real cities emerged with monumental architecture, the use of writing, greatly expanded trading horizons and specialized industrial production. In expanding out of its moister areas of origin into the semi-arid Tigris and Euphrates valleys, agriculture had to adapt to very different environmental conditions. But there were great benefits to be gained in cultivating the fertile alluvial soils close to the rivers. The returns of cultivated crops in the areas where they were first developed were relatively modest. It was only when agriculture shifted to the drier lowlands of the Tigris-Euphrates basin that the full potential of agriculture was unlocked. S Mesopotamia lacked stone, timber, or any kind of mineral wealth, and was prone to sometimes disastrous floods. Agriculture was totally impossible if the only source of water was the limited rainfall. Nevertheless the soils of its alluvial floodplains were potentially highly productive as long as sufficient irrigation water could be diverted from the rivers. It has been calculated that efficient irrigated farming systems in this area may have produced a return, in relation to the quantity of seed sown, of around 50 times. Irrigation had long been used on a small scale in areas like the fringes of the Zagros Mountains of N Mesopotamia while the attractions of Jericho as a site for early agriculture were principally an abundant local water supply. But here the possibilities for irrigated farming were far greater. The adoption of irrigation allowed huge increases in output that freed a growing proportion of the population from direct labour on the land. From about 4000BC in S Mesopotamia the first cities, including Eridu, (seen by the later inhabitants of the region themselves as their oldest city), and Uruk, began to appear with the rise of the Sumerian civilization, and from 3000BC even more centres, including Ur, were established. Because the construction of buildings was based on mud bricks (for want of anything else in this stone-free region), the sites of these cities were gradually built up in mounds, or tells, in which successive layers of structures protected those below. The inhabitants of these early cities made high-quality pottery and, from around 3000BC, they were smelting metallic ores to make bronze. The Sumerians developed the wheel, and the war chariot, simple pictographic writing systems, and sophisticated bureaucracies to organize the collection and redistribution of food surpluses. The very poverty of resources in Sumer, apart from the fertility of the irrigated soils, meant that the cities were forced to trade with surrounding mountain and plateau regions for a 320


range of commodities not available locally. The ancient coastline of the Persian Gulf was much further inland than it is today so that cities like Ur and Eridu, now well away from the coast, were close to the ocean and well located for seaborne trade (Adams 1966). Conditions for agriculture in Sumer were different from those in ancient Egypt. The rivers were fed by melting snow and a spring peak of rainfall in E Turkey, reaching a maximum flow in April and May. The annual floods of the Tigris, and especially the Euphrates, were less spectacular than those of the Nile because the rivers were smaller in volume and did not spread annual layers of fertile silt so widely. Yet at the same time the spring floods could be dramatic. One, which deposited a 1.5 m deep layer of sediment at Ur, may have lived on in popular tradition to give rise to stories of the biblical Flood. The period of annual flooding was out of phase with the times when water was most needed for agriculture, posing difficulties for farming communities. The rivers flooded in spring but water was especially crucial in autumn to prepare the soil for ploughing and sowing. As a result, water had to be carefully husbanded. Instead of simply letting the rivers burst their banks and then damming the overflow, irrigation canals were laboriously constructed to bring water to the fields. Mesopotamian irrigation systems were larger in scale than those of the Nile valley. The natural levees on either side of the rivers were carefully breached and water led away under gravity. At first this involved small-scale local systems. Ones at Choga Mami, dating from c.5000BC, are among the oldest known. Later irrigation used larger canals which ran parallel to the main rivers and spread water over a wider area. In their lower reaches the Tigris and Euphrates diverged into many channels, which helped to spread irrigation water over more extensive areas. Following the fuller development of city states, however, even larger schemes developed which involved redirecting river courses which were able to supply water for longer periods during the summer, allowing a wider range of crops, including rice, sesame and cotton, to be cultivated. Water management required care for once fields had been flooded the removal of excess water could be difficult. The canals required constant maintenance and dredging to prevent silting. Many of the cities of Sumer were so close to each other: the sites of several of their tells can be seen from the top of some of their ziggurats or temple mounds. Close co-operation in water management between cities was, therefore, an advantage. The success of the Sumerian economy did not lie just in large-scale irrigation schemes, but in the wider range of resources which they exploited. Archives of clay tablets detailing the collection and redistribution 321


of produce has allowed the economy of these early cities to be reconstructed. Barley seems always to have been more important than wheat because of its greater tolerance of salt. Two crops a year were possible on the irrigated land but in practice the harvest was often restricted to only one crop to combat salinity. Peas, lentils and a range of fruits and vegetables were also grown. Date palms, tolerant of salt, provided another nutritious source of food. Fish from the rivers and wildfowl from the marshes along with deer and gazelle helped to provide a more varied diet. Sheep and goats with some cattle and pigs were kept. The sheep provided wool which, made into cloth, was one of the region’s major exports. Cattle provided dairy produce while oxen contributed the draught power for ploughing and hauling carts. Ploughs rather than hoes or digging sticks were used as early as the Uruk period, making agriculture even more efficient. Sumerian agriculture and trade depended upon harnessing wind power, through sailing vessels, and animal power via the plough and the wheel. These, with metallurgy, can be seen as necessary precursors of civilization. Early metal tools may have been only marginally more efficient than stone ones but they lasted a lot longer without breaking or requiring sharpening. The wide range of food sources may also have been important in encouraging an early trend towards specialization as fishermen, herdsmen, fruit and vegetable growers etc. The effect on population density was marked. Within the Fertile Crescent hunter-gatherers may have lived at a density of around 0.1 people/km2. Early farming may have allowed this to increase to 1–2 people/km2 but irrigated farming could support around 6 people/km2. It was this concentration of people in a relatively limited area that made the development of towns possible, precipitating further marked population increases. The growth of towns seems to have been due as much to the concentration of existing population as to demographic growth. By the time the archaeological evidence becomes more abundant the administration of these cities, as well as much of their economic activity, seems to have focused on their temples. Cities like Ur had at their centres ziggurats, huge stepped pyramids crowned by temples and shrines. Later on secular warlords and kings seem to have taken over at least some of the power. Warfare between cities seems to have been common. Cities were fortified with walls and towers while chariots allowed more mobile warfare in the plains between them. During the Early Dynastic period there were up to 20 cities at any time: independent, sometimes warring, with one generally being recognized as supreme, but with primacy shifting over time. The cities had suburbs 322


beyond their walls and satellite villages from which the more distant land was cultivated. The largest city, Uruk, spread over c.450 ha, may have had a population of up to 50,000, though estimates are necessarily imprecise. On this basis many of the other cities may have had populations of 10–20,000. Uruk was defended with a circuit of walls nearly 10 km in length with double ramparts strengthened at intervals with semicircular towers. Uruk started off as a small town serving a limited rural hinterland. From c.3000BC, however, there was a rapid development with people from the surrounding countryside being crammed into the cities (Adams 1981). Inside the cities were tightly packed buildings, sometimes with regular grids of streets but more often unplanned. Streets were unpaved but sewage systems were built. In addition to internal rivalries there were also periodic invasions from outside. Early interpretations of the development of society in S Mesopotamia claimed that while towns could not exist without irrigated agriculture, the towns themselves were mechanisms for social control, and needed to exist in order for the irrigation systems to be organized. However, in other societies complex irrigation systems existed without the need for towns (Maisels 1990). Perhaps a dense rural population supported by irrigated agriculture came before the towns. From these the first urban social elites developed to a point where the evolving cities became capable of transforming the structure of society. Irrigation helped the development of such elites but was not the only influence. Within the cities high proportions of the population were still food producers but some were also part-time or even full-time tradesmen, while others had specialist roles as merchants, priests and scribes. The temples and palaces, in their own distinct quarters, were the foci of city life as well as economic centres. Priests, temple administrators and scribes had a relatively high status and were among the wealthier urban social groups. The military also had a high status. Temples were key elements from the very start of urban life. At Eridu 18 superimposed religious buildings have been discovered, starting off with small shrines and ending with a massive ziggurat. A huge amount of labour was needed for the construction of these and other buildings, as well as the palaces and defensive walls. During the Early Dynastic period the work seems to have been done voluntarily by the inhabitants as part of their service to the god. Every citizen belonged to one of the temples and so did much of the land. The temples thus controlled the organization of land and labour as well as the distribution of food and other goods (Postgate 1993). All this centralization of economic activity required careful record keeping 323


and led to the development of the first systems of writing. Over 90% of the clay tablets recovered from these early cities are economic, legal and administrative documents. Although the temples wielded much economic influence political power lay with the kings but secular leaders seem to have developed later than the temples. The palaces of Sumerian cities came to rival the temples in terms of wealth and land ownership but they never seem to have eclipsed them. There was a down side to the increasingly complex irrigation schemes though. The soils had to be treated carefully, with the amount of water supplied being strictly controlled and regular years of bare fallowing being used to prevent too much waterlogging and, even worse, the drawing up to the surface of salts dissolved in the river water. The result of excessive evaporation from the surface of the soil was the further upward movement of water by capillary action. Over time a salt crust might form which was detrimental to most plants. This was not a problem in ancient Egypt where different conditions of flooding and drainage in the Nile valley helped to maintain soil fertility without increasing salinity. It has been suggested that the cities of S Mesopotamia and the farming systems that supported them contained the seeds of their own destruction. The urban elites may have thought that they were in control of nature but as population grew it became necessary to crop the irrigated lands more intensively. The result was to increase the speed at which salts accumulated in the upper horizons of the soil. The cultivation of emmer wheat had to be phased out because of its poor salt tolerance compared with barley. Around 3500BC wheat and barley were being grown in roughly equal amounts but by 2100BC wheat had ceased to be grown almost entirely and crop yields generally were falling (Jacobsen & Adams 1958). The decline in food supply ultimately led to the decay, and then collapse, of many cities. Sumer was conquered by the more N Babylon c.1800BC and many of the original cities of the S were abandoned leaving only tells to mark their sites. Today extensive areas of the Tigris-Euphrates basin remain virtually useless for agriculture due to the build-up of salt. On this argument the world’s first intensive irrigated farming system generated the first large-scale environmental disaster (Yoffee 1988). However, not all archaeologists are convinced that the build-up of salt was sufficient to cause the major decline and depopulation of Sumerian cities. Mesopotamia, flanked by mountain peoples to the north and easily accessible from the Levant, was a much more open society than isolated Egypt, its city states always vulnerable to attack and invasion by outsiders. Periods of political disruption and instability were hardly conducive to the 324

Mesopotamia | meteorological records

regular maintenance of the irrigation systems. An alternative view is that the argument for increasing salinity and declining yields is based on the misinterpretation of a limited, not necessarily representative body of written material. This view claims that it was easy to prevent the undue build-up of salt in irrigated soils, firstly by fallowing and secondly by flushing salts out through regular flooding (Adams 1981, Kerr 1998, Liverani 1993, Maisels 1999, Pollock 1999, Postgate 1993, Semor et al. 1993).

Mesta The Honoured Council of the Mesta, a powerful association or guild of sheep owners in the medieval kingdom of Castile, Spain, was founded in 1273. Sheep farming developed on the wide borderlands between Christian and Islamic Spain and patterns of transhumance were established, with animals moving over hundreds of km from summer pastures in Castile to winter ones in Extradura and Andalucia. As the Reconquista proceeded and arable farming expanded it became necessary to control the movement of the sheep along drove roads or ˜adas. 125,000 km of these still survive but they typify transhumance can routes throughout the Mediterranean and they have been put forward for consideration for World Heritage status. The sheep have been seen as a major cause of deforestation in medieval and later Spain.

meteorological records By the 1780s weather stations were sufficiently numerous in Europe to allow the construction of detailed daily weather maps though coverage of E and S Europe is poorer than for the N and W (Lamb 1982). The longest temperature series for the S hemisphere is from Rio de Janeiro, starting in 1832. The interpretation of past meteorological records can be problematic. Variations in the quality of instruments over time and between stations can affect comparability. Changes in the location of instruments at a particular station can cause variations which have nothing to do with climate. Temperature records can jump up or drop sharply due to changes in the amount of heating in the buildings to the external walls of which the thermometers are fixed. As cities grow they can generate their own urban heat islands, showing warming trends that are purely local.


methane (CH4) | Mexico

methane (CH4) Less important than CO2 as a greenhouse gas in terms of atmospheric composition but 21 times as effective molecule by molecule and with its concentration rising twice as fast. Analysis of air bubbles from Antarctic ice cores shows that methane concentrations have varied greatly in the past in line with temperature between 350 ppb during glacial phases and 650–700 ppb in the early part of interglacials, suggesting strong feedback links between the atmosphere and biosphere on a timescale of centuries. It was once thought that the postglacial rise was due to the release of methane from high latitude peat bogs with melting ice and permafrost. Tropical wetlands are another possible source. The preindustrial concentration of 800 ppb had risen to 1,750 ppb. Methane is produced by bacteria breaking down organic material in relatively oxygen-free conditions. Natural emissions account for around one-third of the total. Anthropogenic sources relate to fossil fuel production and agriculture, especially paddy rice and livestock production, to burning of biomass and emissions from landfills. Ruminants – cattle and sheep but also wild animals – produce large amounts from the bacteria which break down cellulose. A cow in a developed country generates 55 kg of methane a year, ones in underdeveloped countries c.35 kg and sheep 5–8 kg. Global warming may be encouraging increased emissions from wetlands and thawed permafrost.

Mexico Population in 2000 c.100 million. The second largest country in Latin America after Brazil, covering 1.9 million km2. Forest covers 33% of the area but is being reduced steadily, especially tropical rain forests in the SE which is being cleared for fuelwood, agriculture and cattle ranching. 7% of the woodland area was lost 1990–2010. Deforestation has led to serious soil erosion: in 1985 17% of the land area was totally eroded, 31% suffered from accelerated erosion and 38% had signs of incipient erosion. Mexico is one of the most seismically active areas of the planet with a long history of major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Among early civilizations the Olmecs c.1200–400BC preceded the Maya who were succeeded by the Toltecs (C10–12AD): see Aztec, Maya). The Aztecs developed agriculture based on chinampas, beds of mud in shallow lakes, giving several crops a year and allowing the development of cities as large as Tenochtitcan (c.235,000 in the mid-C15). The Spaniards, under Herna´n Corte´s, arrived in 1519 and had conquered the Aztecs by 1521. Spanish control was made 326

Mexico | miasma

easier by the spread of European diseases which cut populations to 5–10% of pre-European contact levels. Mexico is one of the most climatically sensitive areas in the world. During the colonial period prolonged droughts had severe impacts on society, especially the indigenous rural population. Access to water has long been a source of contention, especially in drought periods. Monopolization of control by individuals or institutions like the church exacerbated these problems, especially in the C18 (Endfield & O’Hara 1997, Melville 1994). The introduction of European livestock, especially cattle and sheep, caused severe erosion and environmental deterioration. Plantation agriculture was introduced for sugar cane and mining for gold and silver was undertaken on a large scale leading to significant deforestation. Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1810 with territory reaching as far N as the border with Oregon but nearly half of the area was lost to the Americans after the war of 1848. The remainder of the country was dominated by large landowners. In the early C20 half the land was controlled by 300 families and land reforms restored communal land to local inhabitants. Mexico was the first country to be transformed by the Green Revolution (Melville 1994, Meyer & Beezley 2000, Ruiz 1992).

Mexico City At an altitude of 2,240 m on the site of the Aztec capital, Mexico City is Mexico’s greatest environmental challenge. Mexico City has grown to over 21 million inhabitants, making it one of the world’s largest cities and causing major environmental and health problems such as air pollution and sewage disposal. The city’s location, surrounded by mountains on three sides, traps pollution under thermal inversions. Air pollution worsened tenfold in the 1970s and 1980s and is estimated to have put 1 million people in hospital in 1999. Despite measures such as tree planting and switching to unleaded petrol the problem is still a major one and efforts to restrict the use of motor vehicles have been unpopular and ineffectual. There are major problems with waste disposal. One-third of the city’s water supply comes from over 1,200 km away and has to be pumped 1,000 m uphill. Aquifers under the city are being used up.

miasma Until the development of germ theory in the late C19 disease-carrying vapours were believed to arise from soils, rotting vegetation and stagnant water; it was thought to be especially dangerous near swamps or newly 327

miasma | Middle East

cleared farmland, especially at night. In the Americas in the C19 it was common to retreat inside at night and fasten all doors and windows (Baldwin 2003, Valencius 2002).

midden A rubbish heap. Among the earliest are shellfish and fish bones from Mesolithic times. Agricultural communities tended to spread their rubbish on their fields periodically but intact middens can provide a wide range of evidence of past diets and environments as well as material which can be dated by radiocarbon and other techniques (Mellars & Wilkinson 1980).

Middle East An area which is difficult to define precisely: does it include N Africa or the Levant? The location of the earliest origins of agriculture with the first domesticated plants and animals, the first civilizations, large-scale irrigation systems and cities with, consequently, a long history of human impact on the environment and a lot of degradation and damage. The ecosystems of this area are resilient though and have been able to cope with drought and grazing pressure among other problems. About 80% of the region is desert or semi-desert. There have been attempts at afforestation in recent decades, especially in N Africa and Syria. The region has c.5% of global population but only 1% of the fresh water so that careful water management is necessary. In Arabia the overuse of coastal aquifers in recent times has lowered water tables and encouraged seepage of seawater (Watkins 1995). Despite the association of this area with aridity it is important to remember that it produced for the earliest hearth of agriculture, the first civilizations and three of the world’s great religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam (see agricultural origins, Egypt, Israel, Mesopotamia, Nile, Sahara). It is often seen as an area characterized by early deforestation, soil erosion and desertification but the natural vegetation of the Middle East is well adapted to both grazing and limited moisture. In such an environment nomadic pastoralism has long been important in desert margin areas and still occupies some 5% of the population. One of the main problems with the Middle E has been matching up evidence of environmental change, especially shifts between cooler, wetter and hotter, drier conditions, with historical and archaeological data of varying quality. Archaeologists in particular have been reluctant to admit the possibility that environmental fluctuations may have had significant effects on the 328

Middle East | migration

cultures of the region. So there is widespread disagreement about whether the occurrence of drier episodes and approximately contemporary human events may have been linked, as between c.2400–2000BC with a period of severe drought and the widespread abandonment of cities in Syria, Palestine and Anatolia and the migration of desert nomads producing an invasion of Egypt by the Hyksos. Again at the end of the Bronze Age around c.1300–1200BC the collapse of Mycenaean Greece and attacks on Egypt by the ‘Sea Peoples’ may have been the result of the displacement of population from further N due to drought with drier conditions reducing river slows and the amount of irrigation water leading to increased salinization of soils. There is the added problem of trying to decide how much of the stories in the Iliad and Odyssey, or the biblical account of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and wandering in the wilderness can be related to the archaeological and environmental record. Despite problems with irrigated soils traditional farming systems are often broadly sustainable although modern dryland wheat cultivation has been seen as a potential source of erosion. In modern times there has been large-scale reafforestation in Syria, Algeria and Morocco. Major dam schemes, like the Aswan High Dam, have been mixed blessings, the provision of irrigation water causing problems of salinization over half of Egypt’s agricultural land and leading to an upsurge of water-borne illnesses like schistosomaisis (Brice 1978, Issar & Zohar 2006, Watkins 1995).

migration Humans are one of the world’s most mobile species, originally moving out of Africa into Eurasia, the Americas and Australasia. The scale and speed of population movement was increased by the use of horses from c.4000BC as draught animals then for riding. Possible ancient migrations have been identified from distributions of archaeological artefacts though prehistorians are less ready than formerly to attribute any change of material culture to the influx of yet another wave of migrants. Some movements, however, like the Celts in the last centuries BC, are attested by historical sources but have not left a clear archaeological record (Cunliffe 2008). Some migrations were prompted by environmental change; others, like the spread of Neolithic farmers in central Europe, initiated it. One of the first wellrecorded long-distance migrations was the transatlantic slave trade from the mid-C16AD to the later C19AD. This was allowed by the development of sailing ship technology but simpler technology allowed travel over long distances as with rafts for the settlement of Polynesia and kayaks for the 329


Arctic. There are many examples of migration due to environmental change, e.g. the Maya and Anasazi. Migration was also important in transmitting diseases to new populations without resistance (Cavalli-Sforza 1995, Gungwu 1997). Migration was a key demographic variable involving the movement of people with a change of residence for periods ranging from a few days to permanent. Migration is often distinguished from mobility, regular movements around a fixed place of residence (to church, market, etc.). Migration was important in environmental change by adding people to or subtracting them from communities. It is a less precise demographic variable than fertility or mortality and is harder to measure as a result. It could include everything from a movement of a few yards within a community to intercontinental emigration. Migration may be internal (within the boundaries of a state) or international (immigration and emigration). It may also be linked with colonial development through the movement of indentured servants and slaves as well as free settlers (Whyte 2002). Migration is often seen as a positive, modernizing process involving people moving to better themselves but it could also be conservative, as with seasonal migration undertaken to shore up a traditional economy and lifestyle as with harvest migration from the Scottish Highlands and Ireland to England in the later C18 and C19 and summer migration from the Massif Central and the Alps to lowland agricultural areas or towns (Hufton 1974, Viazzo 1989). At the negative end of the spectrum migration might be forced, as with movements of refugees, asylum seekers or transported criminals. Seasonal migration can form part of the rhythms of the agricultural year, linked with a move to summer shielings and other forms of transhumance or, as with hunter-gatherers, the seasonal use of different resources. Migration may be linked to moving frontiers of colonization, as with the spread of hunters of megafauna across N America or the W spread of European settlers in the USA at a much later date. Frontiers of colonization, whether internal (into areas of upland, forest, wetlands) or external, might be driven by population pressure, as in Europe during the high Middle Ages, by colonial aspirations or by religious dissenters fleeing from persecution. Frontiers of colonization were often associated with profound environmental changes where migration occurred into previously unpopulated or lightly occupied areas (like the Americas during the early Holocene) or areas 330


populated by people with a less advanced technology, like native Americans or Australians in the C19. Deforestation, the introduction of agriculture and livestock farming followed and then, as a consequence, soil erosion and land degradation. Migration could result in the introduction of new species of plants and animals with major impacts on the environment such as the introduction of rabbits to Australia or goats to many Atlantic and Caribbean islands. Migration could be generated by population pressure at home; people might be attracted by opportunities in the destination area. Much transatlantic emigration to N America in the C19 involved both elements. Between 1820 and 1930 c.50 million migrated from Europe to the Americas. Migration may be voluntary or forced (e.g. the Highland Clearances), or a flight from drought, famine or war. Migration can also be classified as operating between rural areas, from the countryside to the towns and cities or vice versa, as well as within the urban system. As national boundaries became more sharply defined in the C19 and especially the C20 movement across them became more restricted. In the Pyrenees the growing significance of the international boundary between France and Spain increasingly curtailed movements between communities on either side. Nomadic movements of livestock across national boundaries in Africa have been frowned on by national governments, restricting traditional practices. Greater control over international migration has led to large-scale illegal movement across some borders, e.g. across the Rio Grande from Mexico to the USA, from N Africa to Spain and Portugal or across the English Channel. Between 1500 and 1870 most intercontinental migrants were slaves or indentured labour. In the later C19 decreasing transport costs encouraged free migration. Between 1830 and 1920 c.55–70 million Europeans migrated to America, Siberia and Asia. As many as 4 million peasants moved within Russia to Siberia in the late C19 and early C20. Between 1834 and 1937 30–45 million Indians moved as indentured labour to plantations in SE Asia and E Africa, S America and the Caribbean. Large numbers of Chinese migrated to other parts of Asia, the Caribbean, California and Peru. After c.1920 more migration was internal rather than international, and was increasingly directed by state policy. Moves have continued into recent times with more than 10 million in the USSR being forced to move to Siberia or the Virgin Lands, including the forced migration of entire ethnic groups. There has been mass movement within Brazil into Amazonia from the 1960s (McNeill 2000). 331

military firing ranges | mills

military firing ranges These can tie up extensive areas of land, often with high-quality scenery including national parks. Within these areas shelling, bombing and the passage of tanks and other military vehicles can damage the environment. But the worst damage is often confined to limited areas and in Britain Ministry of Defence sites tend to preserve landscape features from destruction by development, as shown on Salisbury Plain.

millet Comprises a number of local cereal grains with small seeds characterized by tolerance of heat and lack of rainfall so well suited to semi-arid areas. Cultivated from China (as early as 8000BC. through India to Africa but most widespread in Africa where it was domesticated independently in several areas. Pearl millet (Pennisetum thyphoides) is the most drought resistant and is grown widely in the Sahel having originated at the margins of the savanna grasslands. In the savanna sorghum (Sorghum bicolour) is the main crop. Both were domesticated by 2000BC. In E Africa finger millet (Eleusine coracana) is a major crop. In China and India millet was a much more important crop and more widely grown than rice in prehistoric times. It was also cultivated in Europe in the past, having a protein content similar to wheat and being eaten as a porridge. It is still the world’s sixth most important cereal.

mills Growing human impact on the environment has been related in part to technological development. The first water mills were horizontal, a type sometimes called the Greek or Norse mill. The first with vertical wheels were Roman, c.1BC. In W Europe the first mechanical revolution of the C11–C13 caused a major increase in wind and water mills. In 1086 the Domesday Book listed 5,624 mills across most of England. The amount of power generated was not great by modern standards: 2–5 hp from a water wheel, 5–10 from a windmill. Tidal mills occurred in both Europe and Islamic countries. The medieval period also saw an expansion in the variety of uses of water power: for iron works, crushing, stamping, tanning, paper making, fulling, pumping and raising ore. There were c.500,000–600,000 watermills in Europe on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. Windmills may have been invented in Iran or Tibet: they were known in Iran from as early as C7AD. Muslims spread them to Spain by the C10 and to China. In 332

mills | mining

the C12AD the transformation of windmills into driving vertical wheels gave a great increase in power in W and Central Europe. By C15 and especially C16 in the Netherlands they were powering bucket chains for land drainage.

Mimbres Occupiers of SW Mexico c.AD1000–1130 when their society collapsed. Initially they planted crops only in areas of adequate springs and groundwater, but in wet decades they extended this into marginal areas with less reliable supplies, shifting from floodplains to higher areas. When drought conditions returned population was in excess of what the original floodplain areas could support. Frequent droughts around AD900 and post AD1150 may not have allowed the accumulation of surpluses sufficient to sustain large populations (Diamond 2005).

mining Extracting minerals and rocks from the surface or underground. Mining has been responsible for significant environmental changes from early times. One of the earliest mining landscapes is the Neolithic flint mines at Grime’s Graves, Norfolk, England. The scale of Bronze Age mining for copper at locations like Great Ormes Head, N Wales has only become evident in recent times. The mining of salt in the Alps S of Salzburg is associated with the development of the Hallstatt (Early Iron Age) culture. These processes generate a large amount of waste, sometimes toxic: with slate 95% of the rock extracted may be waste. Crushing, processing and smelting metallic ores requires a fuel supply: charcoal, wood, peat or coal. Waste heaps of old mines may be reworked for mineral previously dismissed as having no value (Hester & Harrison 1994). Mining is first recorded in Neolithic times in the Middle E and Europe. Working conditions in early mines were often poor and detrimental to health through accidents and inhaling dust and poisonous fumes so mines in ancient Greek and Roman times were worked by slave labour. Some metals such as gold and tin could be washed out of alluvial deposits rather than mined from veins. Early workings were often directly on veins where they outcropped at the surface leaving open trenches. Medieval mining technology was relatively simple and small scale but developments in the C16 led to deeper shaft workings with better drainage and ventilation through horizontal levels.



By the C18 and C19 the scale of mining had reached a point where the environment of entire regions was being affected, e.g. the coalfields of Britain, Belgium and N France. Shallow seams of coal were worked with bell pits by sinking short shafts then excavating the mineral from around the base of the shaft giving a bell-shaped section then moving on to an adjacent site. The demands of mining produced important improvements in transport technology: tramways, canals then railways were in their early days closely associated with mining. The remoteness of mining areas often necessitated the construction of company housing to accommodate the workers, graphically described in Emile Zola’s Germinal (1885). Colonial development led to the development of huge new mineral deposits and mining on a hitherto unknown scale, like the silver mines of Potosi (Bolivia) or the diamond and gold mines in S Africa. The discovery of gold in particular led to gold rushes, sudden influxes of prospectors. An increasing amount of modern mining is opencast or strip mining where overburden is removed at the surface. The surface can be restored after extraction but in many less developed countries this is not done due to the cost, and the environmental damage due to deforestation, erosion and pollution can be enormous (Dore 2000). Old mining landscapes can be rehabilitated with toxic minerals removed or buried allowing redevelopment, as with the copper smelting landscapes of the Lower Swansea Valley, Wales. Mining subsidence can affect the surface with cracks and holes forming as well as severe damage to buildings and roads and the creation of lakes. Unrecorded and abandoned workings can cause problems for modern developers. Sand and gravel workings and other mining activities, when disused, can create sites with considerable wildlife value. Mining waste can be reclaimed, e.g. oil shale ‘bings’ in E central Scotland have been used for motorway construction. The waste from mining and water draining from mines may be highly acidic, containing concentrations of sulphates which can dissolve metals like lead, zinc, copper, arsenic and mercury, poisoning groundwater and drinking water. Interpretation of surface remains of mining activity can be difficult, reflecting as it does subsurface conditions and geology. Industrial archaeologists have tended to underestimate the complexity of surface remains and the possibility of distinguishing various phases of development. Small scale workings were not necessarily ancient (Roe 2003). (See Aberfan, hushing, quarrying.) 334

Minoan Crete | moa

Minoan Crete Europe’s first civilization from 2700BC to 1500BC, ending relatively abruptly. Some archaeologists have claimed that a phase of severe economic dislocation in Crete was triggered first by a major earthquake and then by the Thera eruption. In such an earthquake-prone area, Minoan palaces had been destroyed more than once before this, but these earthquakes seemed to have been particularly severe and to have triggered permanent rather than temporary abandonment. Ultimately, as suggested by evidence of burning at many Cretan sites, society may have collapsed into war and anarchy. The Mycenaeans from mainland Greece may have taken over, causing Minoan Crete to be absorbed into the Mycenaean, and eventually the Greek world, but the role of the Thera eruption in such events is still far from clear. Minoans appear to have traded with all the nations around the E Mediterranean from Egypt through the Levant to Anatolia.

Mississippi 3,782 km long (with the Missouri 3,967 km), the longest waterway in the world. Allowed widespread trading links before Europeans arrived. Traffic increased markedly in the C19 with the introduction of steamboats. Felling timber as fuel for riverboats destabilized the banks, increased runoff from surrounding agricultural land and increased navigational hazards in the form of sandbanks (Kelman 2003, Mathur & da Cunha 2001, Scarpino 1985). The first levees to hold back floodwaters were constructed in the C18. The federal government sponsored levee building from 1895. In 1925 floods killed 700 people. After this the US Army Corps of Engineers tackled the problem of flooding more systematically, shortening the river by 229 km between 1932 and 1955 (Barry 1997, McNeill 2000).

moa New Zealand had 12 species of moa, flightless birds weighing from 15–20 kg up to 200 kg. They were driven to extinction by Maori hunters from c.AD1250–1300 onwards. They had low breeding rates and inhabited scrub, habitats that were easily accessible and burnt. Coastal moa populations crashed in the C14; some may have survived in the interior into the midC15. The loss of the moa represented a significant decline in biomass, lowering human carrying capacity (Pawson & Brooking 2002).


mobility transition model | Moche

mobility transition model Model put forward by US geographer Wilbur Zelinsky (1971) which linked the nature and scale of migration and population mobility to levels of economic development as a counterpart to the demographic transition model. More recent work highlighting the amount of population movement in medieval and early-modern, pre-industrial societies in Europe has cast doubt on its validity.

Moche Civilization on coast of Peru which flourished between




Warrior priests ruled a coastal strip of c.400 km between the Lambayecque Valley to the N and the Nepena Valley to the S. The population occupied the coast and some dry interior valleys. The leaders of Moche society lived apart from the farmers and fishermen they ruled, occupying royal courts dominated by magnificent pyramids, spending time and effort fighting and feuding over land and water supplies. Moche society depended on maintaining complex irrigation systems channelling water from the mountain, producing crops of grain and cotton. The harvest of the sea was also important in the form of the anchovy fishery. Guano from colonies of seabirds which fed on the fish was collected and spread on the fields. As population increased the economy came under pressure with increasing risk of collapse due to environmental change. Data from the Quelccaya ice cap provide a record of rainfall during the Moche period. A 30-year drought period between




is likely to have had a

catastrophic effect on agriculture and society lower down in the valleys and coastal areas. Drought seems to have been punctuated by periods of ˜ o events which appear to have intense rainfall associated with El Nin become more severe at this time. Floods swept away fields and villages, causing severe soil erosion and damage to irrigation networks. The Moche ˜o event blew sand leaders achieved a partial recovery but another El Nin dunes inland burying extensive agricultural areas. Between AD600



the coastal capital of Cerro Blanco was abandoned in favour of a

location further inland. Their inability to be flexible as regards their economy, and to alter their farming system, led to eclipse and then takeover by neighbouring highland societies in the C8 (Fagan 1999, Alva & Donnan 1993, Shimada et al. 1991).


Modified Mercali Intensity Scale (MMI) | monoculture

Modified Mercali Intensity Scale (MMI) For measuring earthquake severity: uses a range of values from I to XII based on the amount of damage caused, allowing the use of historical data.

Mogollon A society of SW USA in the mountains of SE Arizona and SW New Mexico between c.250BC and c.AD1400.The population of their major site at Mesa Verde collapsed c.AD1400.

monasteries and monastic orders Originating in the Near E early Christian monasteries sheltered small groups of monks living simple lives in desert and wilderness areas like Sinai. In Ireland Celtic monks inhabited remote rocky islands like Skellig Michael and are thought to have established colonies in Faroe and Iceland before the Norse. Medieval monastic orders were much larger organizations which spearheaded woodland clearance on internal frontiers in Europe between the C11 and C14, overcoming peasants’ awe of the deep forests (Williams 2003). The Cistercian order alone founded over 700 centres, scattered from Ireland to E Europe, around half the total religious houses, each a nucleus for clearance and farming. Monastic farms or granges were worked by lay brothers. The Cistercians in particular were given grants of extensive areas of upland which were developed with large sheep farms and cattle ranches (vaccaries). It was the scale rather than the intensity of their operations which affected the environment: winter housing of animals meant that grazing pressure was lower than in later centuries. Monastic orders were also active in reclaiming land from lowland fens and the sea (Bond 2004, Darby 1956b, Donkin 1978, Hall 2006).

monoculture Growing a single crop over a wide area, a feature of modern commercial farming or agribusiness in contrast to polyculture. Monocultures are low in biodiversity and are vulnerable to disease, soil damage, environmental change and market fluctuations. The term is also used more loosely to describe certain types of forestry and livestock farming.


monsoon | Montreal Protocol on Substances

monsoon The word comes from the Arabic ‘mausem’ meaning ‘season’. As the earth’s tilt varies with summer and winter the monsoon circulation moves N and S. Of seasonal shifts of airflows and precipitation in the tropics the largest is the Asian monsoon, an atmospheric response to the shift of the overhead sun and thus the zone of maximum heating from the Tropic of Capricorn in December to the Tropic of Cancer in June. Associated with this are changes in the jet stream and a meridional shift of the rain-bringing Inter Tropical Convergence Zone. In winter there is high pressure over central Asia and winds blow outwards. In early summer the direction of the upper air changes from W to E and the monsoon brings heavy rain to the S half of India. In summer the N edge of the monsoon reaches the Himalayas. Winds from the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal bring moist air to Sri Lanka and Gujerat in June. If the monsoon fails there is less or no rainfall in the Punjab or Rajasthan. In the past monsoon failure caused massive famines over huge areas. Periods of weak monsoons bringing drought coincided with the demise of the Tang, Yuan and Ming dynasties in China after several decades of weaker, drier monsoons. Variations in the strengths of the monsoons have been linked to changes in the output of solar radiation. Even shorter-term variations can cause severe famines through failure of the rice harvest. A dry period AD850– 940 was linked not only to the fall of the Tang dynasty but also to the collapse of the Maya. On the other hand, periods of stronger monsoons have been linked to phases of population growth and greater stability in China. In 1629 and 1630 monsoon failures led to major famines in India and in 1631 entire districts became depopulated, millions of cattle died and cholera caused heavy mortality. Some areas did not recover for half a century. Other severe droughts occurred in 1685–8, another in 1770 after which many areas in Bengal were waste for two decades, Over 50 million people died of famine in India in 40 years during Queen Victoria’s reign. The famine of 1899–1900 was the worst on record: 62 million people were seriously affected, millions of cattle died; official relief measures were inadequate. The spread of the railway network reduced the impact of famine towards the end of the C19 (Bhatia 1967, Fagan 1999, Fein & Stephens 1987, McAlpin 1983).

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer 1987 Available for signature from 16 September 1987, coming into force 1 January 1989. 39 countries agreed first to freeze production of CFCs at 338

Montreal Protocol on Substances | mosquitoes

1986 levels then reduce production by 50% by 1999. These proposals were widely adopted and implemented, a good example of effective international co-operation (see CFCs, ozone layer). An unusual example of international policy making for the environment actually achieving significant results.

moraines Ridges and mounds of debris deposited by active glaciers or let down on to the surface by the melting of ‘dead’ ice. Moraines may be deposited at the margins of glaciers (lateral moraines) and especially at their snouts (terminal moraines). The finest material (rock flour) is washed out by glacial meltwater leaving coarser material up to the size of boulders behind. Moraines can be dated using radiocarbon, lichenometry and other methods to provide chronologies of periods of glacier advances and retreats.

mortality crises Periods when the death rate of human populations rose sharply above the average for previous years due to epidemics, famine, war or a combination of these disasters. They may be identified in Europe from central or local government records as well as by examining numbers of burials in parish registers. In more developed countries the severity of mortality crises tended to reduce over time due to better nutrition as local or regional food markets become tied into national systems, with the disappearance of some epidemic diseases like bubonic plague, and with better provision of health care. They formed a much reduced element of English demography from the late C17 but continued in parts of Scotland into the C18 and in Ireland and France into the C19. In less developed countries they are still a normal feature of life.

mosquitoes Insects of the family Culicidae found mainly in tropical and sub-tropical areas though some species occur in the temperate zone. Vectors carrying diseases transmitted by viruses and parasites. Yellow fever and dengue fever are transmitted by Aedes aegypti and malaria by the genus Anopholes. Mosquitoes can be controlled by habitat modification, e.g. the removal of stagnant water, and by the use of pesticides.


Mount Pinatubo | mountains

Mount Pinatubo Volcano on island of Luzon, Philippines, 85 km from Manila. It erupted in 1991 after over four centuries of quiescence; one of the worst eruptions of the C20. The summit of the volcano collapsed creating a caldera. 10 cm of ash was deposited over an area of 2,000 km2. 15–30 million t of SO2 was ejected into the atmosphere at heights of up to 30 km causing the largest disturbance to the stratosphere since the eruption of Krakatau in 1883. The SO2 combined with water and oxygen to form H2SO4 which depleted ozone causing a huge widening in the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica in 1992 and 1993. Temperatures in the N hemisphere may have been lowered by 0.5–0.6– C as a result of the eruption and globally by 0.4–0.5– C.

Mount St Helens Volcano, Washington state, USA. Dormant for c.130 years it had been identified as the most likely one in the Cascades range to erupt. The buildup to the eruption of 18 May 1980 was closely monitored. The explosion, set off by an earthquake, removed 400 m of material from the summit. A landslide swept down the mountain burying areas below in up to 200 m of debris. The blast of the explosion mostly went sideways, creating a 595 km2 fan of damage within which the forest was destroyed. Snow on the mountain melted, creating huge mudflows which caused widespread damage to local infrastructure. 57 people were killed and huge number of animals, including an estimated 12 million salmon, died. The research on the eruption and its aftermath, including the recovery of landscape and ecosystems, makes this the most studied eruption of the C20. In 1982 Mount St Helens was designated as a National Volcanic Monument.

mountains Usually defined in relative rather than absolute terms, by ruggedness as well as height. They are difficult environments characterized by short growing seasons and slow soil formation, steep slopes and limited fertility. The fragility of mountain ecosystems is widely evident (see Alps, Cairngorms, Himalayas). Nevertheless they possess a range of resources including pasture, timber, water, minerals, hydro-electric power and tourism potential. Mountain people have often been dismissed by lowlanders as warlike, uncivilized and stupid. Mountain communities have traditionally been isolated and independent from centralized control, the abode of 340

mountains | mung bean

freedom fighters and/or outlaws such as William Tell or Rob Roy. Traditionally they have supplied mercenaries to fight for lowland states, e.g. from Scotland and Switzerland in the past and more recently Ghurkas from Nepal. Mountains are barriers to communication but trade is channelled through their passes: the Brenner Pass was a major link across the Alps between Italy and Germany (Bowman & Seastedt 2001, Gerrard 1990). Mountains are high-energy environments in which changes in the frequency and magnitude of extreme events can have major implications for the safety and enjoyment of visitors as well as residents (see avalanches). Worldwide they are the second most popular category of holiday destination after coastal areas. 10% of the world’s population live in mountain regions but c.40% are dependent on mountain resources including water. Environmental change in mountains can have severe impacts not just locally but in surrounding lowlands. Silting, flooding due to soil erosion caused by deforestation, overgrazing, mining and road construction are often serious problems. Mountains are prone to catastrophic natural processes such as avalanches, flash floods, landslides or glacier hazards (Gerrard 1991, Pfister 1983, McNeil 1992).

Muir, John (1838–1914) Pioneer American conservationist, known as Father of the National Park System. Born in Dunbar, Scotland his family moved to America in 1849. Raised as a pioneer farmer in Wisconsin he settled in San Francisco in 1868 but soon moved to Yosemite. His passion was to try to save the Sierras from the effects of sheep which were rapidly altering the sub-alpine environment. His writings, including The Mountains of California (1894) and Our National Parks (1901) influenced many people including President Teddy Roosevelt. Muir was an uncompromising preservationist whose achievements included the creation of an enlarged Yosemite National Park in 1890 and the formation of the Sierra Club in 1892 (Cohen 1984, Fox 1985, Turner 1985, Williams 2002a, Worster 2005).

mung bean The seeds of Vigna radiata, native to India where it was domesticated at least 4,500 years ago, spreading into China and SE Asia. Widely eaten in SE Asia as bean or bean sprouts and now grown more widely with the spread of Chinese cuisine.


murrain | Mycenaean Greece

murrain English term for livestock disease known from medieval times and probably the same as rinderpest. Thought to have originated in central Asia major pandemics hit Europe in the early C14 and later. In 1745 half a million cattle died in England in an outbreak.

Mycenaean Greece Bronze Age society of mainland Greece which appears to have taken over from the Minoans. The collapse of Mycenaean society c.1200BC coincided with the fall of the Hittite empire and periods of difficulty for the Assyrians and Babylonians while cities of the Levant were attacked by ‘Sea Peoples’. These problems coincided with widespread drought which Carpenter (1966) identified as the cause of the political unrest. He suggested that a N shift of dry winds from the Sahara had caused a drought affecting Mycenae, Crete and Anatolia leading to the collapse of civilization for some 400 years. The ‘Sea Peoples’, who in c.1200BC attacked Egypt from Syria, were identified as drought refugees of uncertain origins (Bryson et al. 1974, Carpenter 1966, Weiss 1982).


N National Forest Public land administered by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service with the aim of combining the extraction of timber with conservation, wildlife protection and recreational use. Mining is allowed in national forests, though with some controls.

nationalism The rise of nationalism in Europe in the C19 was a major political force which helped to preserve iconic monuments and landscapes. In some states landscapes became closely associated during the C19 with national identity as ‘national landscapes’. These characteristically formed only a part of the national territory. Landscapes could become linked to nationalism by mythology, as with sites like Glastonbury and Tintagel associated with the Arthurian legends. On the other hand, the origins of national landscapes can be quite recent. In England national identity has become associated with the intensive arable country of the S and SE, some of it only created in the late C18 by parliamentary enclosure, running from ‘Constable Country’ in the E through ‘Shakespeare Country’ in the Midlands to ‘Hardy’s Wessex’ in the S, with images of villages of thatched, timber-frame cottages facing the parish church across a green or market place. Landscape images of Ireland, Scotland and Wales are equally powerful yet artificial. In Ireland the focus of national identity has been the ‘unspoilt’ W where prehistoric megaliths, Iron Age cashels (forts) and early Christian monasteries emphasized continuity with a distant past to a greater degree than the more profoundly altered landscapes of the E, settled and 343

nationalism | national parks

created by the English ‘oppressor’. In Germany forests were identified as a crucial element in the national landscape. In France, by contrast, the multiplicity of distinctive pays at a smaller scale worked against the identification of a single iconic landscape. Nationalism also encouraged frontier expansion and settlement to secure territory and develop resources in environments like the Canadian Arctic, Siberia, the Australian Outback and Brazilian rain forests. Communism can be viewed as an extreme form of nationalism. A preference for large development projects in the USSR led to environmental disasters like the Virgin Lands Scheme and the destruction of the Aral Sea.

national parks The World Conservation Union designates national parks as natural and scenic areas of national and international importance for scientific, educational and recreational use, relatively large areas where ecosystems have been little altered by human activity. The idea of national parks has been claimed to go back to a statement by William Wordsworth in 1810 that he considered the English Lake District to be ‘a sort of national property’ in which everyone had an interest. The practical reality came from the USA with the W expansion of the frontier in the mid-C19 and in particular the vision of John Muir. The US federal government granted money to the state of California in 1864 to preserve Yosemite valley as a park. Originally this was done to safeguard specific natural curiosities but in the mid-1880s there was a change in public opinion regarding the need for the preservation of landscapes and in 1890 Yosemite was created a national park. In 1872 Yellowstone, covering c.800,000 ha, was established as a national park (Sheail 2010). Americans had a romanticized view of nature within their national parks; much of what they saw as wilderness was the product of previous management by Indians. The true preservation of forest began in the E with the Adirondacks State Park (1.2 million ha) in 1892 (Williams 1989). The US National Park Service, established in 1916, runs 367 national parks, monuments and historic sites. Access to national parks improved significantly in the 1950s with the construction of interstate highways and increasing car ownership, leading to growing demands for access and facilities, causing problems with their management (Runte 1987). Other countries followed the American example in the late C19 and early C20 (MacEachern 2001): Kruger National Park in S Africa was created 344

national parks | National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949

in 1898 and at nearly 19,000 km2 is one of the world’s largest. In Europe Sweden designated the first national park in 1909 and many more ¨ kull in Iceland (12,000 km2). In Britain followed, the largest being Vatnajo the idea was much discussed in the 1920s and 1930s but WW2 intervened and the first ones in England and Wales were established under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Ten national parks covering c.13,000 km2 were designated in the 1950s, mainly in upland areas. Their aims were to protect landscape, to encourage visitors and to promote the economic and social development of communities within the parks. The Norfolk Broads was added in 1989, the New Forest in 2004, and the South Downs in 2009. These parks were very different from those in the USA, where the land was stateowned. Only a small proportion of the land in English and Welsh national parks is publicly owned but a good deal is managed by NGOs like the National Trust, the Forestry Commission and water utilities. National park status did not protect them from some major intrusive landscape changes such as copper mining and a nuclear power station in Snowdonia, an oil terminal in Pembrokeshire, conifer plantations and radar installations on the N York Moors, limestone quarrying in the Peak District and military training areas on Dartmoor (Smout 2000).The creation of national parks in Scotland, birthplace of John Muir, was delayed compared with England due to the powerful interests of large landowners and a feeling that Scottish landscapes were under less pressure from visitors and unsuitable changes than areas S of the border. Loch Lomond was established as a national park in 2002 and the Cairngorms in 2003. Many countries have adopted lesser designations such as ‘regional park’ to cover areas which are smaller, with less striking but still valued landscapes (see Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The quality of landscape protection and the treatment of the sometimes unfortunate people living within the designated areas varies widely around the world and national parks are not always viewed with approval. In Indonesia national parks and wildlife sanctuaries have come under threat through being associated with the Suharto regime (1967–98); they are seen as representing elite interests (Jepson & Whitaker 2002).

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 Created the framework of national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales after WW2. 345

National Trust | Natufian culture

National Trust Founded in 1895 by Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, Octavia Hill and Robert Hunter. The NT now owns c.1.5% of England and Wales but a higher proportion in national park areas (12% in the Peak District, 25% in the Lake District) and is the largest private landowner in the country. The NT grew out of concern over the preservation of attractive landscapes such as the Lake District from damage by industrial and infrastructural developments, and the maintenance of access to open land (e.g. the Commons Preservation Society). Early purchases of land were designed to safeguard access to the shores of some of the most popular Cumbrian lakes. In the C20 especially the gifting of a number of country houses to the NT has given the impression that it is anchored in the landscapes and values of the landed classes, despite their wide range of property holdings.

Natufian culture The Natufian culture in the Levant played a key role in the emergence of agriculture as a transitional stage between hunter-gatherers and farmers, flourishing for c.1,500 years after c.9000BC. Moister conditions provided them with a range of foods but population increases may have made communities more vulnerable to short-term droughts, forcing people to adopt new patterns of resource exploitation and leading to more intensive use of more clearly defined territories. Natufian society adopted a more sedentary lifestyle than previous hunter-gatherers in larger communities, with solidly built houses. They still derived much of their food from hunting but may have deliberately cultivated unimproved wild grasses, rather than harvesting them wild. The climatic downturn of the Younger Dryas may have reduced the areas of wild cereals leading to the first experiments in systematic cultivation. The Natufians developed the intensive harvesting of wild cereals using sickles, a key technological development, but it is likely and that the first real farmers cultivating truly domesticated varieties of cereal, were their successors, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A people, occupying sites like Jericho. They grew domesticated varieties of wild two-row barley (Hordeum spontaneum), wild einkorn wheat (Triticum boeoticum) and wild emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccoides). These first farmers still hunted gazelle, wild cattle, deer and wild boar, as well as collecting wild fruits and seeds. The shift from collecting wild seeds to the cultivation of domesticated crops could have occurred within a few decades but it is unclear whether 346

Natufian culture | nature conservation

this occurred simultaneously in several places or diffused from a single centre. In either case the area around Jericho seems the most likely location for the origins of true agriculture in the late 11th or early 10th million BC (Bar-Yousef & Meadow 1995). The domestication of animals in this area occurred in the succeeding pre-pottery Neolithic phase B around 9500–8500BC. The Natufians adapted to the less favourable conditions of the succeeding Younger Dryas period by becoming more mobile again and living in smaller social groups (Bar-Yosef & Valla 1991, Bar-Yousef 1998, Kenyon 1956).

natural hazards Physical processes (though often worsened by human intervention) which are not easily predicted and which can cause loss of life and damage to property, including avalanches, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, storm surges, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Some, like hurricanes, may be relatively frequent while others, like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, are much rarer. The impact of these has grown in recent decades due to population growth and increasing human impact on the environment.

nature conservation Aims to protect and maintain the quality of the natural world, its ecosystems, habitats and diversity, preserving them either for sustainable human use or for their intrinsic value. Its origins can be traced to scientific forestry in France and Prussia in the C17–18 and forestry in colonial India in the C19. William Wordsworth’s (1810) statement that he regarded the Lake District as ‘a sort of national property’ in which everyone had an interest is often quoted as a key statement of the need for conservation. It developed further in the USA in the later C19, influenced and encouraged by the writings of Henry Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh and John Muir. In Britain the Wild Birds Protection Act 1872 and the Ancient Monuments Act 1882 were important landmarks. In NW Europe nature conservation has not been government-led but has grown from middle-class and aristocratic interest, leading to the formation of NGOs like the National Trust (1895) and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (1889) and county naturalists’ trusts. Nature conservation in Europe developed from the protection of small, specific sites. In the USA and Canada, with extensive areas of wilderness, nature conservation was more often government led through state acquisition of land for national 347

nature conservation | neptunism

parks or state forests. In Britain the Nature Conservancy (from 1973–91 the Nature Conservancy Council, after that English Nature, now Natural England) was established in 1949 with the aim of identifying and protecting the most important areas of scientific interest. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 had established the idea of habitat conservation through site designation. From the 1950s to the 1980s agriculture, forestry and nature conservation followed separate paths with governments encouraging the first two through grants and subsidies. The Nature Conservancy created a system of National Nature Reserves by agreement, lease and purchase, as well as large numbers of Sites of Special Scientific Interest where conservation had to co-exist with other land uses. The main threat to conservation was seen as land development in the form of housing, industry and transport infrastructure. Landowners and farmers were still seen as ‘guardians of the countryside’. SSSIs came to cover 6% of Britain but came under increasing pressure from intensifying rural land use. As the Nature Conservancy was unable to influence the farming and forestry sectors outside the National Nature Reserves many SSSIs suffered from significant habitat loss, especially in lowland areas (Allen 1994, Evans 1997, Mellanby 1981, Sheail 1976, Stamp 2009).

Nazca A people of Peru who disappeared from the archaeological record c.1,500 years ago. It was previously thought that their demise was due to ˜ o episode. More recent catastrophic flooding c.AD500 during an El Nin research has blamed deforestation, especially the destruction of huarango trees, leading to ecological collapse. The roots of the huarango trees helped protect fragile desert ecosystems, binding the soil and retaining moisture. The forests were cleared to grow maize and cotton, exposing the land to ˜o floods (Beresford-Jones 2009). the effects of El Nin

Neolithic See Agricultural origins: the British Isles and Agricultural origins: the Near East.

neptunism The interpretation of the earth’s geology and landforms as the result of major flood events, widely accepted in the C18 and C19. 348

Netherlands | New Orleans

Netherlands Pop 15.6 million AD2000. Much of the country is formed by the mouths of the Rhine and other major rivers. Between 3000BC and 2000BC the Dutch coast lay c.50 km E of its present location. The Netherlands has to deal with much waste and pollution generated upstream. Much of the country is below sea level, under threat from both the sea and inland rivers. The Netherlands were not fully unified until the end of the C18. Before that it was the United Provinces with more local autonomy. The Netherlands were characterized by a dense population and high levels of urbanization from late medieval times. From the C16 reclamation was spurred on by population increase and urban growth, generating demand for a more efficient and commercialized agriculture. Reclamation from the sea made steady progress between the C12 and C16 but with a major increase in the C16 and first half of the C17 encouraged by a number of sea floods and technological innovations like the bucket dredger and more powerful windmills. Between 1540 and 1715 Zeeland alone gained c.70,000 ha of land by reclamation. By 1640 the cultivated area in the Noorderkwartier N of Amsterdam had grown by over 40%. The drainage of inland lakes and wetlands was more difficult and expensive due to the need to install chains of windmills to pump water up into the canals. The first major project was the drainage of the Beemster lake covering 27 km2 and 4 m deep. Amsterdam merchants provided the capital, the engineer Jan Leeghwater the expertise. Within five years with the use of over 40 windmills c.7,000 ha of land had been reclaimed and 207 new farms created. Reclamation continued into the later C17 then fell abruptly but revived in the C20. After the flood of 1916 the Dutch began to plan the drainage of the Zuider Zee. This was accomplished by 1932 but reclamation continued over the next 60 years, adding 14% more land to the area of the country with the creation of new polders, farms and even towns like Lelystad (Lambert 1985, McNeill 2000).

New Orleans Founded in 1718 by French settlers on levees at the head of the Mississippi delta, in a malaria and yellow fever prone location 70 km from the Gulf of Mexico, the site was flooded within months and in 1724 a law was passed requiring house foundations to be raised. After most of the buildings were destroyed in a hurricane in 1777 the town was rebuilt on a grid plan. The settlement flooded again in 1735 and 1785. In 1788 and 1794 serious fires destroyed much of the city. By 1812 artificial 349

New Orleans | New World, peopling of

levees extended over 300 km, mainly to protect sugar plantations. By 1828 levees had reached the head of the delta. As they extended, the potential for damage caused by a breach increased. By 1840, with a population of 102,000, New Orleans was the 4th largest city in the USA. In 1849 32 levees were breached and hundreds of people drowned. 1882 brought the worst flood of the C19 when 280 levees were breached and the floodwater extended over an area 110 km wide. In 1927 a flood killed over 200 people and thousands of animals and covered 93,000 km2. Although the city was constructed mainly on the higher levees much of it was still below sea level. Drainage of lower lying marshy areas began in the early C20 and rapid development followed. Problems of subsidence due to the compaction of sediments and pumping of groundwater led to even more of the city being below sea level. A flood control act of 1928 appropriated funds for a vast construction effort to strengthen river defences, including raising the heights of levees, building spillways and realigning channels. Flooding was associated with hurricanes in 1947, 1965 and 1995. On 28 August 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck the city causing the largest civil engineering disaster in US history when 80% of the city was flooded after the levees failed. Around 1 million people were evacuated but 20% of the population was still in the city when the hurricane struck. The floodwater was over 6 m deep in places. Over 1,100 people were killed and the total economic cost was estimated at $100 billion. Poor planning and maintenance of the levee systems was blamed. See hurricanes.

New World, peopling of Has generated one of the fiercest debates in archaeology with more passion than evidence regarding whether the first humans arrived 40, 20 or less than 15 kya. There is general agreement, supported by DNA and linguistic evidence, that the first Americans came from NE Asia. The earlier view was that there was no evidence for settlement in the Americas before the Clovis people, dated to c.13.2–12.9 kya. It was considered that combinations of sea levels and ice limits would have prevented any entry at all before 14 kya, the only feasible route of entry being from E Siberia to NW Canada, but more recently evidence has emerged that the land bridge was open c.30 kya. The Clovis expansion seems to have been continent-wide, from W to E by highly specialist and mobile big game hunters (see megafauna extinctions). Evidence of earlier, pre-Clovis occupation is based on new archaeological material, genetic profiling and links between Clovis points and similar artefacts in the Old World (Dillehay 2001, Mandryk et al. 2001). 350

New World, peopling of | New Zealand

It is widely believed that the date of the main entry of man to the Americas occurred around 12 kya at around the time of the megafauna extinctions. But there is some evidence that human colonization of the Americas could have occurred much earlier. A site at Monte Verde in S Chile, discovered during the 1970s, has provided evidence of a settled community existing there over 12.8 kya before the advent of the Clovis people. An ice-free passage down the Pacific coast of N America may have opened up by 14.5 kya, 2,500 years before an ice-free corridor existed into the interior of the continent, giving migrants ample time to reach the Monte Verde area by the earliest dates found there. A third possibility is that the first humans reached N America even earlier, 15 or even 20–40,000 kya, but dating evidence for this is still inconclusive.

New Zealand A land to which not only Europeans but humans of any kind came late presents a fascinating case study in environmental history for an area which experienced isolated ecological development. Despite a modern population of only c.4 million the New Zealand environment was substantially changed in the last two centuries with 85% of the wetlands drained and the extent of forests falling from 80% of the area to under 25%. When Captain Cook arrived in 1769 about half the land was treeless yet the country was climatically suited to forest. Pollen analysis has shown that before the Polynesian settlement only limited lowland areas were without a forest cover. The Maoris destroyed around half of New Zealand’s forests before European settlement. They came as hunter-gatherers without agriculture and used fire to alter ecosystems to facilitate both activities. The various species of moa, flightless birds, were up to 5 m tall: hardly any were left by AD1250 and they were extinct when Europeans arrived. Around 8–12,000 people on S Island destroyed c.3.2 million ha of forest. Polynesian deforestation began c.1000BP and was especially severe 800–600BP. Clearance was mainly by burning done to encourage growth of bracken, the rhizomes of which were an important food source, and possibly for hunting moas (Roberts 1989). From the 1840s there have been concerns about environmental degradation, focusing on deforestation causing climate change, soil erosion and flooding (Star 2002). The prioritization of agriculture at the expense of forestry has made conservation efforts difficult (Beattie 2003). The New Zealand Forests Act of 1874 was influenced by George Perkins Marsh’s writings and was one of the earliest conservation measures in the British 351

New Zealand | Norfolk Broads

Empire. Some conservation of New Zealand’s forests began before the Scenery Preservation Act of 1903 but until then the main motivation was economic. After this aesthetics and national identity became more important, with preservation primarily for non-economic reasons becoming the focus of New Zealand’s approach to native forests (Star 2002, Garden 2005). From the 1920s a huge increase in sheep numbers occurred with the introduction of super-phosphate fertilizers, numbers peaking at c.70 million in 1980 (McKinnon 1997, Pawson & Brooking 2002). New Zealand has been described as an ‘empire of grass’ (Brooking & Pawson 2011, Pawson & Brooking 2002) yet unlike N and S America New Zealand lacked natural grasslands before Europeans arrived. From the midC19 hundreds of thousands of ha of temperate rain forest were burnt and seeded with imported grasses and 85% of the wetlands were drained. Forest clearance for pasture led to floods, droughts and soil erosion (Beattie 2003).

newspapers Old newspapers preserved in libraries and archives in bound volumes or on microfilm preserve a wealth of information on short-term environmental events in the past such as floods, landslides, storms, earthquakes and heavy snowfalls, and the impacts of these on human societies. They are less good on coverage of longer-term changes. Many are not indexed though some are now available online in a searchable format. The reports they carry are often graphic but inevitably emphasize the sensational and the short term.

non-renewable resource A natural resource, such as fossil fuels, which cannot be replaced once consumed or which is replaced only very slowly.

Norfolk Broads A series of 43 lakes and waterways in E Anglia, England, which were long thought to be natural features. They have been shown to be the flooded remains of massive medieval peat extraction (C9–13), supplying fuel to London. These filled with water after the Middle Ages creating a distinctive environment providing transport, fish, wildfowl and reeds for thatching. They were made a protected area with similar status to a national park in 1988 (Lambert et al. 1970).


noria | North East Passage

noria A device for raising water for drainage, irrigation or to fill salt pans, consisting of a vertical wheel with a chain of buckets or clay pots around the rim, driven by donkey, horse, wind or water. Its origins are obscure but it was used by the Romans and was widely adopted in the medieval Islamic world, including Spain, with wheels having diameters as large as 20 m. Their use did not spread to central and S America but they are still frequent in parts of the Middle E.

North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) In 1924 Sir Gilbert Walker identified a tendency for air pressure in the N Atlantic to be low near Iceland in winter and high over the Azores and SW Europe. He called this the NAO: it is the dominant mode of atmospheric behaviour in the N Atlantic, especially in winter. The NAO fluctuates on a ˜ o Southern Oscillation. A high NAO index longer timescale than El Nin indicates low pressure over Iceland and high over the Azores with strong W winds which in winter bring heat from the Atlantic to the heart of Europe, keeping temperatures mild. But these conditions also produce dry conditions in S Europe, which affect the olive harvest in Spain and Portugal and reduce snow cover in Alpine ski resorts. A low NAO index indicates a shallower pressure gradient over Europe with an inflow of cold air from the N and E and widespread snow. The NAO is the main influence on weather from year to year in Britain. Fluctuations of a decade or longer can occur: accurate records go back to 1864. Greenland ice cores show that the NAO goes back at least 700 years. In the 1880s there were very cold winters in England. From 1900–39 the Icelandic low was deeper with stronger westerlies and mild air over Europe (apart from 1916–9). The index was low during WW2. The 1950s were milder and the 1960s colder. Over the past 25 years the index has been high with mild winters in Britain (Fagan 1999). Cycles can last for a few years or decades with swings between the two states being sudden and unpredictable. Swings in the NAO are linked to atmosphere/ocean dynamics in the N Atlantic, including sea surface temperatures, the strength of the Gulf Stream and the distribution of sea ice and icebergs (Cook et al. 1998, Luterbaucher et al. 1999).

North East Passage The search for a route to the Orient through the seas N of Russia has a similar chronology to that of the North West Passage. By the C17 the 353

North East Passage | North Sea

Russians operated a through route with portages across the Yamal Peninsula between the Sea of Archangel and the Gulf of the Ob. C16 expeditions from England, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway reached Spitzbergen, Bear Island and the Novaya Zemla. In 1725–30 Vitus Bering, Danish but acting for Russia, explored the Pacific end of the route giving his name to ¨ ld, the Bering Strait, but it was not until 1878 that a Swede, Nils Nordensko made the first navigation of the route. In 2009 two German container ships navigated the passage commercially for the first time, reflecting the melting of Arctic summer sea ice.

North Sea Created as recently as 7,000 kya by submergence of the land between SE England and the Netherlands. It has long been known that this area, before flooding, was occupied by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from finds brought up in fishing nets. Recent seismic surveys have revealed the contours of what has been called Doggerland, lying 450 feet deep, an area larger than Britain with a huge estuary into which rivers from what is now Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and the Baltic flowed. For the history of fish stocks see fishing and fisheries. The coasts around the N Sea have been vulnerable to flooding, erosion and storm damage. Around 100,000 people were drowned on the Dutch and German coasts in four storm surges c.AD1200, 1212–9, 1287 and 1362, The Zuider Zee was formed in the C14 when storms carved out a huge inland sea from farmland; reclamation was not complete until the C20. In January 1362 hurricane-force winds demolished English church towers. Ports like Ravenser on the Humber and Dunwich in Suffolk were severely damaged. 60 parishes in Schlesvig diocese were swallowed up by the sea and at least 25,000 people died. On 19 August 1413 the settlement of Forvie in NE Scotland was buried under 30 m of sand dunes. In 1421 and 1446 N Sea storms killed over 100,000 people. The great flood of 1953 was the most severe environmental disaster to affect Britain in the C20, and highlighted major inadequacies in flood protection and disaster planning and acted as a major policy change which included the Thames Barrier (Hall 2011). In more recent centuries pollution from major rivers like the Rhine and Thames, and from the number of ships using the N Sea, has been a problem, with sewage, industrial waste and agricultural fertilizers being washed in.


North West Passage | novels

North West Passage Once it became clear that Columbus had not discovered a direct route to the Indies there was interest in a navigable route giving access from the Atlantic to the Pacific without involving the rounding of Cape Horn. This search for the NW Passage was one of four centuries of failure and disaster. C16 voyages by John Davis and Martin Frobisher failed to penetrate much beyond the territory known to the Norsemen. Henry Hudson, after becoming trapped in the bay that bears his name, was set adrift and abandoned by his crew. C17 and 18 expeditions achieved little more. James Cook’s approach was more professional, seeking the Pacific end of the Passage in his third voyage of exploration in 1778. Early C19 expeditions under the stimulus of Sir John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty, were better organized and mapped much of the Canadian Arctic. The searches for Sir John Franklin’s expedition of 1845 led for further advances in geographical knowledge but it was only in 1903–6, with some reduction in summer sea ice, that Roald Amundsen made the first full traverse of the passage. Recent reductions in sea ice limits have led to suggestions that the Passage could be used commercially on an increasing scale. But there are concerns over pollution and the rights of Inuit peoples (David 2000).

Norton culture Originating in the W Arctic in the Bering Strait region c.500BC and spreading into the E Arctic c.AD1000, oriented towards both land and sea hunting but with marine resources important, including salmon, seals and whales. Many of their settlements were occupied all year round. They developed oil burning lamps and pottery (Fagan 1991).

novels The main literary form in W literature from the early C19, novels have often been set in specific places or regions at particular times and their characters have frequently been depicted as being influenced by, as well as interacting with, the landscape. Sometimes this has gone further with detailed portrayals of environment disasters and change. Early novels, such as those of Fielding and Richardson, had generalized rural or urban settings but from the early C19 depictions of place became more detailed and convincing. Novelists have often been associated with specific regions, such as Thomas Hardy and Wessex or Sir Walter Scott and Scotland. It was a frequent characteristic for such writers to set their stories in a slightly earlier 355

novels | nuclear power

period of marked social change and upheaval. So Scott’s first novel, Waverley (1814), was subtitled ‘Tis 60 Years Since’, describing events during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, and Hardy’s plots were set earlier in the C19 than has often been realized. An individual writer or a number of them could create a powerful stereotype, as shown in Pocock’s (1979) study of novelists’ images of the N of England. Pocock showed that writers focused on images of bad weather (windy and wet), smoke from factory chimneys, the disfigurement of the countryside by industrial development and depressing townscapes; popular stereotypes of N landscapes along similar lines still endure. Many novels have been set in towns and cities, notably Dickens in London and Hugo and Zola in Paris, emphasizing the rapidity of changes whether social or in the built environment (Pocock 1978). Novels stressing urban poverty and squalor often had a political cause to advance. Less commonly before the C20 have novelists set their stories around environmental disasters, although storms and floods have often been associated in fiction with crises between the human protagonists. John Steinbeck, in The Grapes of Wrath (1939), by setting the fate of one family in the wider context of the entire population of the American Dust Bowl, managed to demonstrate the plight of a whole society. C20 science fiction and thriller writers have often chosen to imagine the effects of major environmental disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions or changes like climatic shifts or sea level rise, e.g. H.G. Wells, In the Days of the Comet (1906) or John Wyndham, The Kraken Wakes (1953). Today bookshops are full of popular thrillers and disaster stories with environmental themes, as well as more serious writing, helping to develop public consciousness of contemporary issues.

nuclear power One tonne of uranium generates as much energy as 2 million t of coal but the cost of nuclear power stations is high and they can take years to build so that the payback period is long. Decommissioning costs are also high and there is the problem of disposal of radioactive waste. The generation of nuclear energy for civilian use began in the USA, UK and USSR in the 1950s. The USA, USSR, France and Japan in particular invested massively in its development. A number of high-profile accidents, including Windscale 1957, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl 1986, have led to concerns over safety, as have issues over the disposal of radioactive waste. In the late 1960s a plan was proposed to use nuclear energy to excavate the Tennessee–Tombigbee waterway through NW 356

nuclear power | nuclear winter

Mississippi using over 80 bombs of 10–50 kt power each. The planned canal ran within 80 km of 340,000 people. The use of nuclear power was pushed by scientists despite uncertainties about safety (Walker 2004).

nuclear waste Disposal of nuclear waste is a major problem because of the very long periods over which it remains radioactive. In Britain the only designated site for the disposal of low-grade waste is Drigg near the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant. In the USSR under Stalin, nuclear waste was mainly dumped at sea in the Arctic Ocean by sinking outdated nuclear submarines. The USSR had only one centre for reprocessing nuclear waste in the upper Ob basin, W Siberia, now the most radioactive location on earth. Between 1945 and 1956 radioactive waste was dumped into the Techa, a tributary of the Ob and a source of drinking water for the local population.

nuclear winter The theory that in the event of a major nuclear strike and counterattack between the USSR and the USA so much debris would be thrown into the atmosphere by nuclear blasts and resulting fires that a thick blanket of gases and particles would blot out solar radiation almost totally for weeks or months rather than days, destabilizing the climate, causing massive mortality from starvation and cold well in excess of the direct casualties. The plausibility of the scenario is thought to have helped to cause the USSR to abandon the idea of a surprise nuclear strike on Europe and the USA. A major asteroid impact or the eruption of a supervolcano could have similar effects.


O oases Isolated areas of vegetation in deserts surrounding springs or other water sources. They occur from Morocco to Egypt, Syria and Arabia. Oases such as Awjila, Ghadams and Kufra in Libya were vital links in transSaharan trade. The largest Saharan oasis, Kharga, 200 km W of the Nile, is 150 km long. Al-Faiyum, closer to the Nile, is a basin up to 1,700 km2, much of it cultivated and irrigated by water brought from the Nile by a 150 km channel first dug c.3000BC and enlarged c.2300BC. Many oases have rich assemblages of ancient monuments reflecting their past importance.

oats A cereal, Avena satvia, derived from a wild ancestor A. sterilis in the Fertile Crescent (see agricultural origins: the Near East), the last of the major cereals to be domesticated. Probably originating as a weed in wheat and barley, oats do not appear as a cultivated crop until the Bronze Age in Europe, c.3000BC. Oats had a lower summer heat requirement than other cereals and a greater tolerance of rain and soil acidity making it an ideal crop for areas with cool, wet summers such as NW Europe, being grown as far N as Iceland. Seen as only a fodder crop for animals by the Romans, its cultivation may have spread in medieval W Europe with the move from using oxen to horses as plough animals. It formed a dietary staple in Scandinavia, Germany, Scotland, N England and in Ireland before the introduction of the potato.


ocean sediment cores | oil

ocean sediment cores Layers of sediment accumulate slowly on the ocean floor, sometimes only a few cm per thousand years. They contain a long, generalized record of the earth’s climate going back millions of years, which can be analysed using radiometric dating, variations in isotope ratios and the alignment of ferromagnetic particles in the earth’s magnetic field (Perlemans 1993).

¨ etzi (the Ice Man) O The mummified body of a Neolithic man from c.3300BC found in 1991 in a ¨ tztal close to the border between Austria and glacier at the head of the O Italy. Europe’s oldest mummy, his clothes and equipment are preserved at the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. In his 30s or 40s when he died, isotopic analysis of his tooth enamel suggests that he grew up in the Bolzano area but later lived c.50 km further N. High levels of copper in his hair may indicate that he smelted the metal. His clothing was sophisticated and well adapted to mountain travel. He carried a copper axe and a bow and arrows. Cause of death is not clear but he had been wounded by an arrow which was still embedded in his body. He seems to have died in spring or early summer but it is not clear whether he was a shepherd, a member of a raiding party or an itinerant craftsman who had been attacked.

oil The most important source of global energy since the 1960s. A drop in catches of whales in the mid-C19 led to a search for new supplies of oil for lamps. In 1859 the first oil well was sunk at Oil Creek, Pennsylvania. The first sizable oil wells were around Baku on the Caspian Sea in the 1870s, and in 1901 the first major oil strike was made in Texas. It was the fuel for internal combustion engines from 1892 and then began to be used to power aircraft, railway engines and ships, though its use only became truly worldwide after WW2. By 1950 the USA had shifted to oil power with W Europe and Japan close behind. Large-scale oil production, first in Texas and California, also developed around the Caspian Sea, in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Iraq by WW2. After WW2 there was a massive development of oil wells in the Persian Gulf with production from new areas like Nigeria and the N Sea, including the start of offshore drilling. Global production stood at 20 million metric t in 1900, 500 million by 1950 and 3.5 billion by 2000. Extraction and transport led to problems of pollution of water and air, as well as major spills from tankers. 359

oil | oil shale

Norway began exploration of the N Sea in 1965 and discovered oil in 1969, with production following in 1971. Britain began producing oil from the N Sea in 1975, with production peaking at 2 million barrel a day in 2000. The wealth generated by oil production has had dramatic impacts on the landscape and environment of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Around two-thirds of the world’s recoverable reserves are in the Persian Gulf; supplies have a lifetime of 70–80 years with current technology. Proven UK N Sea reserves are only 3% of the world’s recoverable total. Warming in the Arctic may allow access to previously untapped resources leading to concerns over damage to fragile ecosystems (Burger 1991). In 1973 the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) restricted oil production from Arab countries. The Iranian revolution in 1979 also pushed oil prices up suddenly. The OPEC cuts led to measures for energy conservation and the opening up of new areas of production, including the Niger delta. By the 1990s the Nigerian government was getting 90% of its income from oil revenues. Land and fisheries in the delta was polluted but the government took a hard line with their complaints. In 1992 the UN declared the Niger delta to be one of the world’s most ecologically endangered areas. With the increasing shipment of oil, tankers grew rapidly in size, posing an environmental threat. The wreck of the Torrey Canyon off the Cornish coast in 1967, in which 120,000 tons of oil was spilled, provided a wake-up call. As tanker design improved spills got smaller but the 1989 Exxon Valzez disaster, in which 34,000 t of oil was released, had major effects. Blowouts in offshore wells also caused disasters, the worst being Ixtoc 1 in 1979 off Tabasco in Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

oil shale The process of extracting paraffin from shale was patented by James ‘Paraffin’ Young in 1851 and for a few years Scotland was the world’s leading oil producer. In W Lothian and NE Lanarkshire, in the late C19 and early C20, the red debris heaps of roasted shale dominated the landscape. Production began in Canada at about the same time as in Scotland, and a little later in Australia. In the C20 there has been large-scale development in Estonia, Spain, China, Russia and S Africa until production was undercut by cheap petroleum. Deposits in the Green River formation in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah are estimated to contain 1,800 thousand million barrels of oil but only 6% of the deposit is accessible. 360

oil spillages | open fields

oil spillages Crude oil floats on the surface of the sea and can contaminate large areas of marine and coastal ecosystems. Birds, mammals, fish and plants may be affected. Oil destroys the insulation of fur and the waterproofing of feathers. Spilled oil can be collected by booms floating on the surface, absorbed on nylon fur, or dispersed with chemical and biological agents. See Braer, Exxon Valdez, Torrey Canyon.

Oostvaardersplassen Dutch nature reserve 50 km E of Amsterdam, created in 1968 by reclamation from the sea. It recreates as closely as possible conditions on the N European Plain after the last glaciations. Large herbivores including Heck cattle, Konik horses and red deer were brought in to graze the area. Because of the lack of the lack of natural predators numbers of large herbivores are controlled by culling. The reserve covers 5,600 ha, of which 3,600 ha is marshland and 2,000 ha grassland. Herbivores are kept outside all winter with no supplementary feeding. The reserve is managed by the Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch forestry service, in a way that owes a lot to the ideas of ecologist Frans Vera. The minimalist approach to management has led to herbivores dying of starvation in difficult years.

open fields Developed in Britain C8–9AD and at about the same time in continental Europe. The reasons for their introduction and spread have been widely debated (Williamson 2003). The arable land was organized into great fields which were open in having no permanent internal boundaries between cultivation plots, only an outer boundary to keep livestock out by separating the open fields from the common pasture beyond. The great fields were often divided into smaller blocks, furlongs, which acted as units within which cultivation and rotations were organized. Some field systems in their early stages had very long strips belonging to individual peasants which were later broken up and subdivided. The introduction of open fields represented a tremendous reorganization of the countryside, the aims of which is far from clear. Open fields were cultivated in strips with a heavy plough, grassed over baulks providing access to individual strips. Standard rotations were practised, the most widespread being two- and three-course. The former involved half the land being under a winter-sown crop (wheat, rye), the other half as bare fallow. In the latter one-third of the land was 361

open fields | Ordnance Survey

under a winter-sown crop, one-third under a spring-sown crop (barley, oats) and one-third in fallow. There were significant variations in the structure and operation of open fields between regions. These were seen by early historians as reflecting ethnic differences (Gray 1915) but other forces such as land ownership, environmental conditions and land tenure are now seen as more influential (Dodgshon 1975). New land was added to open fields by communal intake or assarting. Open fields in Scotland and Ireland involved two categories of land. The infield, the most fertile ground close to the settlement, was cultivated with continuous crops of cereals and high inputs of manure. The outfield, poorer quality and more distant, had portions ploughed up and cultivated for a short period until yields declined and the land was rested. In England open fields were removed gradually from late medieval times by piecemeal enclosure by private agreement in areas where they were less strictly regulated and by parliamentary enclosure in their Midland heartland (Baker & Butlin 1973, Williamson 2003).

Ordnance Survey The official British map-making agency, whose name derives from the army’s engineering branch which had the mathematical expertise to undertake surveying and mapping. Founded in 1791 and producing its first map, of Kent, in 1801, focusing initially on areas most vulnerable to French invasion, the OS was a fusion of the best of contemporary military and civilian cartographic traditions. Its military origins can be traced to a survey of the Scottish Highlands carried out by William Roy in 1747–55 because the British army, occupying the region after the failure of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, found that no detailed and accurate maps of the region existed. Roy and his teams of army surveyors produced a map at a scale of 1 inch to 1,000 yards, showing settlement, roads, land use and topography. Although modestly described by Roy as a sketch it represented a dramatic improvement on previous maps. It showed the distribution of land uses, including arable and woodland. The maps have been used to examine changes in woodland cover (Smout et al. 2003). Roy became a Major General and founded the OS. The 1 inch to the mile survey was gradually extended to the whole of Britain. From the 1820s the first 6 inch to a mile survey was started for Ireland, followed by England, Wales and Scotland. Maps at 25 and 50 inches to the mile were later produced. The earliest 6inch surveys in particular are valuable tools in the study of recent environmental change in Britain. 362

Orkney | ostracods

Orkney Archipelago of c.90 islands off the N coast of Scotland, the largest known as Mainland. The Old Red Sandstone rocks give a rolling topography, fertile soils and a coast ranging from impressive high cliffs to sandy beaches. The archaeology of the islands is rich and complex. Orkney was occupied by Neolithic settlers from c.5600BP. The settlement at Skara Brae, dating from c.5000BP, was exposed by the removal of blown sand following a storm in the C19. The houses were built of, and furnished with, sandstone slabs, probably in part due to the lack of native timber. Later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age times were marked by stone chambered tombs, notably Maes Howe, huge henges and impressive stone circles. From c.1300BP the climate seems to have become cooler and wetter leading to the formation of peat on the hills and in marshy hollows. The later Iron Age was another period of construction, particularly of brochs. From the C9 Norse settlement occurred and the native Pictish population was either assimilated or slaughtered. A settlement at Buckquoy has a Pictish house underlying a rectangular Norse one. Orkney became a Viking earldom centred on sites like the Brough of Birsay. Orkney was annexed to Scotland in 1472 but its Norse tradition continued in many ways including agriculture with the creation of plaggen soils. No part of Orkney is far from the sea, and fishing and whaling (the latter focused especially on Stromness) were important industries. The almost landlocked waters of Scapa Flow were major bases for the Home Fleet during WW1 and WW2 (Wickham-Jones 2006).

OSL (optically stimulated luminescence) dating The technique measures the energy of photons being released when ionising radiation is absorbed and stored by sediments. This can be removed and measured providing the time since the material was last exposed to sunlight or intense heat. OSL dating has been used to date deposits in contexts of environmental change such as deltas, coastal spits and bars or river terraces. In archaeology it has been used to date artefacts, including pottery, as well as sediments, including the mud brick layers of Bronze Age tells in the Near E. It can operate on timescales ranging from 1– 200 years to 400,000 or more.

ostracods Small marine and freshwater crustaceans which can be used for reconstructing palaeoclimates. 363

overgrazing | ozone, trophospheric

overgrazing Allowing numbers of animals in an area to exceed the carrying capacity, causing changes in vegetation, deforestation, soil compaction, increased flooding and soil erosion.

oxygen isotope dating The study of oxygen isotope variations from ocean sediments provided the first long-term chronology of climatic change stretching back to the Tertiary era (Bradley 1985). Ice cores extracted from the centres of stable ice caps, such as Greenland or Antarctica, can provide environmental information over long periods, especially on palaeoclimates, with an annual time resolution. Each year’s accumulated snow forms a layer which traps within it a range of data including temperature, measured by the amount of the isotope oxygen-18, which varies directly with air temperature, or peaks of acidity caused by volcanic eruptions. Antarctic and Arctic cores have provided evidence of climatic variations reaching back to the last interglacial period and beyond (Bolton 1993). The identification of individual layers of accumulation becomes more difficult with increasing depth. When oxygen is incorporated into a layer of snow on a glacier surface the ratio between 18O and 16O atoms becomes fixed, providing a record of temperature conditions in air or water at the time that the deposit was laid down. Pioneered in Greenland the technique has since been extended to the Antarctic and to smaller ice caps and glaciers in areas like the Andes and New Zealand. One feature of these studies has been to show that Little Ice Age was a global rather than a European phenomenon. Data from such cores relate, however, to areas which were remote from centres of population and whose climates did not necessarily mirror global conditions. More recently cores have been driven in smaller ice caps in the Himalayas and Andes, providing details of climatic fluctuations from the tropics (Thompson 1992). A core from the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru shows that the post-medieval cool phase, the Little Ice Age, came to an end suddenly within two to three years around 1800 (Thompson 1992).

ozone, trophospheric Unusually high concentrations of ozone at low levels in the atmosphere are associated with human activity, especially fossil fuel combustion from


ozone, trophospheric | ozone layer

vehicle engines. Tropospheric ozone can cause serious health problems when too high, particularly in large cities.

ozone layer Zone in the atmosphere 21–26 km above the earth’s surface which absorbs much of the incoming solar ultraviolet radiation. Ozone forms naturally in the upper atmosphere by the action of UV solar radiation splitting O2 molecules into single O atoms which combine with other O2 molecules to form O3 (ozone). Aircraft emit chemicals which can break down high altitude ozone but in the 1970s-80s release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), widely used in aerosol sprays and coolants from the 1950s, when carried into the upper atmosphere, with a residence time of up to 400 years, they react to produce chlorine which attacks ozone, reducing its concentration, notably in the Antarctic where a seasonal ‘hole’ in the ozone layer as large as the USA was first detected in 1985 but had probably started from the late 1970s. Ozone had decreased by c.50% against historical measurements. In 1987 more than 95% of the ozone over Antarctica at heights of between 13 km and 22 km disappeared in August and September. Depletion over the Arctic has been more widely spread. In 1987 27 countries signed the Montreal Protocol to Reduce Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer with the aim of reducing production of CFCs by 50% by 2000. The use of CFCs has now been phased out. As their emissions fall the hole in the ozone layer is starting to close but will not disappear entirely until the mid-C21. Increased exposure to UV radiation is linked to increases in human skin cancer and eye problems.


P Pacific, colonization of

Oceania covers 88 million km2 only 1.6 million of which is land, scattered in c.25,000 islands. It is divided into Melanesia (New Guinea, the Solomons, New Caledonia, Figi), Micronesia (the Marshall Islands, Guam, the area E of the Philippines) and Polynesia (Samoa, Cook Islands) from New Zealand to Hawaii and Easter Island. Colonization took place as a series of waves from SE Asia moving E. New Guinea was settled as early as 40–35000BC, about the same time that the first humans arrived in Australia. The Solomon Islands were colonized c.26000BC and by 7–5000BC much of Micronesia was occupied. In c.5000–4000BC an exodus from S China spread across the Philippines and into New Guinea by 1500BC. Before c.1500BC human settlement was restricted to the islands of the W Pacific. Between then and c.AD1000 two great surges of colonization led to most Pacific islands becoming inhabited. The first surge occurred around 1500–1000BC over Melanesia and W Polynesia with the expansion of the Lapita culture. In the second wave, c.100BC–AD900, the ancestors of the modern Polynesians colonized E from Figi to the Marquesas then split three ways, N to Hawaii, E as far as Easter Island and S to New Zealand, identified by its distinctive pottery, the Lapita style, bringing agriculture based on yams, taro, bananas, pigs, dogs and chickens. Advanced maritime technology using outrigger canoes 15–20 m long with improved sailing and navigational techniques allowed colonization of E Melanesia, moving N into Micronesia and E into Polynesia. Fiji was settled from c.1500BC, Hawaii c.AD650, the Marquesas between AD900 and AD1300 and New Zealand between AD1000 and AD1200, during a period of climatic stability with drier conditions and reliable trade winds (Nunn 366

Pacific, colonization of

1999, 2000). These were the ancestors of the modern Polynesians. The movement involved deliberate settlement rather than chance discoveries by lost vessels. A standard portable economic package with dogs, chickens, pigs, seeds or tubers of coconut, taro, yam, bananas and breadfruit was adapted to local conditions in each island group. On large ecologically diverse islands like Hawaii agriculture became very productive, even using irrigation. On some small islands skills like pottery making and canoe building deteriorated or were lost (Roberts 1998). The region also had contacts with S America and sweet potatoes (Ipomea patatas) derived from there became a staple crop in E Polynesia. Settlement led to clearance for agriculture and deforestation led to soil erosion. In extreme cases, as with Easter Island, environmental degradation caused societal collapse (Denoon et al. 1997, Jennings 1970, Kirch & Hunt 1997, Scarr 1990). It is not always easy, however, to differentiate between human impacts and the effects of natural changes on island environments. During the medieval climatic optimum (c.AD750–1300) the Pacific islands experienced rising sea levels and growing aridity encouraging the adoption of water conservation strategies in agriculture like terracing. The co-operation involved in this encouraged the creation of larger, nucleated settlements and more complex societies. The Little Ice Age was marked by cooler temperatures and lower sea levels causing resource depletion and conflict leading to the abandonment of some undefended coastal settlements in favour of fortified upland sites (Nunn & Britton 2001, McNeill 1994). Hawaii was occupied by Polynesians from c.AD400, with Europeans arriving from 1778. The settlers cleared and burnt much of the lowlands for settlement and agriculture. By AD1100 all the islands in the group had been settled though mainly in the coastal areas. More rapid population growth led to all the available land being cultivated by 1400. Population rose from c.20,000 AD1100 to c.300,000 in the late C18. There was growing conflict between chiefs, and small chiefdoms gave way to larger kingdoms. The first European visitors brought rats, pigs and goats and in 1793 George Vancouver landed cattle and sheep. None of these introductions benefited the environment. The goats and cattle caused significant ecological changes with large feral populations developing, displacing native species and causing habitat destruction. At least 39 taxa of birds had become extinct on Hawaii by 1778 and 28 more since then. Modern industrial developments had a devastating effect in some parts of the Pacific. In 1773 deposits of nickel were found in New Caledonia. In the C20 half a billion tons of rock were moved using large-scale opencast 367

Pacific, colonization of | palaeomagnetism

working. Environmental damage included erosion, floods, landslides and damage to arable land, coconut groves, coral and fish stocks. Only in the 1980s did the French government start to impose restrictions on the mining companies; the pollution will remain for centuries (Garden 2005, McNeill 2000, Weisier 1994, 1996).

packrat middens In the SW USA these provide natural time capsules which allow the reconstruction of the vegetation growing within a few dozen yards of each midden. Packrats make their nests from plant fragments and dung. Each midden is abandoned after a few decades and some have been radiocarbon dated to c.40,000 years old. They have provided a chronology for the deforestation of areas of the SW USA by the Anasazi peoples (Diamond 2005).

palaeoclimatology The reconstruction of past climates using a wide range of scientific techniques such as dendrochronology and oxgen istope analysis as well as early meteorological records and historical sources.

palaeoecology The study of past ecosystems by means of techniques such as pollen analysis, and of the influences which caused change in ecosystems, whether anthropomorphic or due to purely environmental causes.

palaeohydrology The study of past hydrological conditions and how river systems have changed over time based on study of flood plain morphology and sedimentation.

palaeomagnetism The earth’s magnetic field varies over time: when iron oxide is heated to c.600– C and then cooled it records the magnetic field which existed at that time, allowing the date of heating to be calculated. The technique is especially useful for dating lavas and hearths on archaeological sites.


palaeotempestology | pampas

palaeotempestology Research into the occurrence, distribution and effects of past tropical hurricanes. Hurricanes leave inwash layers in sediment cores from lagoons, and storm wave ridges above beaches (although distinguishing between ridges produced by tropical storms and tsunamis can be difficult). Documentary sources like diaries and ships’ logs have allowed reconstruction of storm patterns in the Caribbean back to 1690. The environmental evidence suggests that the last 1,000 years has been more storm free than the previous 4,000 but that since the mid-1990s there has been a trend towards a grater frequency of severe hurricanes (Diaz & Pulwarty 1997, Travis 2000, Walsh & Reading 1991).

Palladio, Andrea (1508–80) An architect who worked in the Republic of Venice, especially in and around Vicenza, the most influential man in W architectural history. He was particularly noted for designing urban palazzos and rural villas for clients of relatively modest means. He rediscovered the rules of the classical style of ancient Greece and Rome, interpreting them in a simple, attractive manner which contrasted markedly with the earlier, fussier baroque. His work became internationally acclaimed after the publication of his Four Books of Architecture (1570). Followers of his style spread his designs through France, Germany and Britain to N America and Russia. His villa designs were for attractive but functional estate centres and incorporated elements of garden design and the more distant landscape. The Palladian style was promoted in England for country mansions in the early C18 by the Earl of Burlington, leading to a fusion of Palladio’s classic architectural style and ‘Capability’ Brown’s ‘natural’ landscapes (Boucher & Marton 2008, Cosgrove 1993).


From the Quechua meaning ‘plain’, grasslands covering c.1 million km2 in Argentina, Uruguay and part of Brazil, ranging from prairie to dry steppe. Under Spanish rule only a small part was used for livestock farming but in the later C19 immigrant farmers from Italy, Spain, France and Germany moved W with the railways and spread the cultivation of cereal crops and vineyards but much has been used to graze cattle herded by gauchos (S American cowboys) who were originally nomadic. The more humid areas of the pampas have become the richest grazing in the world, 369

pampas | Paris

though fertilizers and overgrazing have been threats to biodiversity and have caused desertification in some areas. There are few remnants of the original grasslands. In 2009 a drought turned much of the area into a dry wasteland and c.1.5 million cattle died.

Panama Canal A ship canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific across the isthmus of central America was a dream in the C18 and C19, potentially halving the distance between New York and San Francisco around Cape Horn. The 77 km long canal was opened in 1914, dug by the Americans after French efforts collapsed. The Americans received a 10 km wide strip, the Canal Zone, to protect their interests. When built it was described as ‘the greatest liberty ever taken with nature’: extensive areas of forest were submerged and cleared, and wetlands drained. The need for water for the canal has caused local shortages for domestic and agricultural use. US control of the canal ceased in 1999 but deforestation continues.

pandemic An epidemic which spreads rapidly and affects an extensive area. Three current diseases have the potential to become pandemics: AIDS, cholera and influenza. In the past bubonic plague achieved this status.

pannage Grazing for pigs in deciduous woodland on beech mast, acorns and chestnuts.

paring and burning Stripping off the surface turf of organic soils, piling it up to dry, burning it then scattering the ashes as a means of improving soil fertility and crop yields. Widely practiced as a means of agricultural improvement in upland areas of N England and Scotland before the C19.


In late prehistoric and Roman times a town developed on the ˆIle de la Cite´, an island in the Seine, and then across the Left Bank. The medieval city expanded on both banks, the Left being dominated by the Church and the university, the Right by administration and business. Medieval walls 370

Paris | parks

restrained urban growth and periodically new lines of fortifications were built further from the city centre, with the lines of former walls being converted into circular boulevards which can still be seen on the street ˆ tels, large mansions often surrounding courtyards, plan. Nobles lived in ho set back from the streets. Houses for the ordinary people gradually changed from timber frame to stone construction in the C16 and C17 due to the fire risk and increasing controls on new buildings. The first residential squares ˆ sges is the best surviving appeared in the early C17: the Place des Vo example. Various monarchs and, after the Revolution, Napoleon made their mark on the city by adding prestigious buildings and bridges and improving roads. Under Napoleon III, in the 1850s and 1860s, Baron Haussmann remodelled the city on a massive scale, laying out new streets lined by standardized apartments and demolishing large areas of working class housing to make way for them. The C19 also brought improved water supply and sewerage but facilities in many apartment blocks remained primitive. After Haussmann, and the damage caused by the Prussian siege in 1870 and the uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871, further prestigious structures, like the Eiffel Tower, were added as part of various world exhibitions. Relatively little new planning was undertaken during the first half of the C20. Since the 1950s there has been major clearance of slums and renovation of historic buildings (e.g. in the Marais district) as well as major prestige developments associated with particular presidents, e.g. the Pompidou Centre. More recently attempts have been made to create more green space and to discourage vehicles from the centre of the city (Hussey 2007, Jones 2006).

parks Open spaces set aside primarily for recreation. May be private (see landscape parks) or public. Hunting forests and chases were a medieval equivalent. Urban parks began to be created in British towns and cities after a 1839 report by a parliamentary select committee on public works’ recommendation. In London former commons like Hampstead Heath and former royal hunting forests were turned into public parks. Hyde Park originally belonged to the monks of Westminster Abbey. It was seized by Henry VIII and opened to the public in 1627. Victorian parks were characterized by gardens and bandstands. In the C20 there was an accent on more active recreation. After WW2 changes in mobility made many parks obsolete though there has been a revival from the 1990s. Urban parks became a source of civic pride and the idea was exported to Australia, 371

parks | parliamentary enclosure

Canada, India, New Zealand, S Africa and the USA. In Paris, under Haussmann’s rebuilding, the Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes were laid out in imitation of London parks. In post-WW2 Britain country parks for less formal, more rural recreation were created on the outskirts of towns as being more accessible than Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or national parks. Urban parks in the USA developed from a fusion of ideas including landscape parks and urban squares. The first urban parks in America were relatively unimproved commons. Central Park was completed in 1860 and was a model for many others in the USA in the later C19. As urban parks grew they acquired other facilities like museums and zoos (Cranz 1982, Rosenzweig & Blackmar 1992).

parliamentary enclosure The enclosure of open fields and common pasture under the authority of an act of parliament became the most usual way of enclosing land in England and Wales between the mid-C18 and mid-C19. It produced a revolution in the landscape, affecting as much as 2.9 million ha, or 22%, of the land area. Parliamentary enclosure of open fields and lowland commons were concentrated in a belt of country from S Central England through the Midlands to Yorkshire while the enclosure of upland waste was prominent in N England and Wales. Enclosure was carried out by parish or, in N England, by township or manor. The process developed from the appointment of independent arbiters to oversee enclosures conducted by private agreement. A majority of two-thirds or three-quarters, by amount of land rather than number of proprietors, was needed for the process of enclosure to be initiated. A petition was submitted to Parliament asking for permission to introduce a bill which, if accepted, was considered by a committee then passed as an act which appointed named commissioners to survey the lands and apportion them to the owners in lieu of their former common field strips and rights of common. General enclosure acts in 1801, 1836 and 1845 progressively simplified administration and reduced costs. Commissioners were usually gentry who did not have a direct interest in the land involved but were often from the same county. They ascertained claims to common rights, established the boundaries of common pastures, valued the existing lands, laid out a new enclosure landscape and produced a written award showing the final allotments and their ownership. Parliamentary enclosure replaced the landscape of open fields and commons by a regimented, geometric pattern of square and rectangular fields and straight access roads. Allotments were fenced with hedges in the 372

parliamentary enclosure | Parry hypothesis

lowlands and stone walls in the uplands. In lowland England, where land scattered in open field strips was returned as a compact allotment, farmsteads were often relocated from villages to the centre of the new properties. In N England new farms were sometimes created on former common pasture. Manorial lords received a share for relinquishing their rights to the soil. If the opportunity was taken to commute tithes the tithe owner also received a share of the enclosed land. Parliamentary enclosure has been seen by some contemporary commentators and modern historians as being detrimental to small farmers, cottagers and squatters and to be have been used as a form of social engineering, converting part-time commoners into full-time wage labourers. It represented one of the most profound landscape revolutions in NW Europe. Its landscapes represented the epitome of rationality and enlightenment (Chapman 1993, Overton 1996, Turner 1980, Whyte 2003).

Parry hypothesis M.L. Parry’s classic case study linked settlement and cultivation limits to long-term climatic change (1975, 1978). It focused on the Lammermuir Hills in Scotland. The area was chosen because its topography allowed modest altitudinal shifts in cultivation limits to be expressed over substantial areas horizontally. Using aerial photographs and fieldwork Parry identified a number of abandoned settlements and associated field systems at altitudes well above those of present-day or recent cultivation. He then used cartographic and documentary evidence to date, as far as possible, when they had been abandoned. Parry showed that remains of ridge and furrow cultivation occurred above modern and C19 cultivation limits and were associated with abandoned settlements. Some of these sites appeared, from documentary evidence, to have been medieval in origin. He calculated the theoretical limits to cultivation for periods back to the Middle Ages. On the basis of these almost all the area, save for the highest plateaux, would have been viable, climatically, for subsistence cereal cultivation. He used documentary and cartographic sources to date abandonment. This seemed to fit in closely with a fall in temperatures from medieval times to the Little Ice Age. Parry suggested that other factors such as changes of land ownership, economic trends and political events were likely to have been immediate short-term causes of abandonment but that climatic deterioration was an important background factor. Parry calculated the minimum conditions of warmth under which oats, the hardiest cereal crop grown in the area now and in the past, would ripen 373

Parry hypothesis | passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius)

under modern conditions as 1,050 day-– C. Minimum thresholds for the commercial cultivation of oats in modern times were identified as 1,200 day-– C. These limits, when mapped, defined a belt of country which was climatically marginal for the cropping of oats under modern climatic conditions. The altitude and location of this marginal band was then calculated back to the C17 using meteorological records and to medieval times using less specific climatic information. Parry suggested that subsistence-oriented farmers, interested in guaranteed minimum returns rather than maximum yields under the best conditions, would have pushed cultivation to approximately the height where there was a probability that two successive crop failures might occur once in a generation. The basis of this argument was the assumption that peasant farmers could survive a single year by tightening their belts but that two successive years of bad harvests would wipe them out. When this level was transformed into altitudinal limits on the map for the period of the medieval climatic optimum it was clear that in the Lammermuirs c.AD1250 all but the highest plateau areas would have been viable for subsistence cereal cultivation which, on the basis of Parry’s calculations, stood as high as 450 m. However, from the C14 to the C18 cultivation limits were driven downhill so that by AD1600 cultivation limits stood at 260–275 m: almost all the uplands were now sub-marginal for the growing oats. Although an important and influential study, Parry’s approach has been criticized for its assumptions about the nature of upland agriculture in medieval and later times, the hardiness of pre-improvement cereal varieties, the resilience of upland farmers and the limitations of the climatic and historical data used. Re-evaluation of documentary sources now suggest a C15 date for the ridge and furrow rather than C12–13. Recent studies in the Cheviots have shown that cereal cultivation continued in upland marginal areas throughout the Little Ice Age (Tipping 1998), suggesting that there was no long-term abandonment of settlement in this even more marginal upland area. Evidence from the Ochils (RCAHMS 2001) demonstrated that cultivation limits were actually expanding uphill in the early C18, one of the colder phases of the Little Ice Age.

passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) Like the bison an example of a species which was once incredibly abundant but which was rapidly reduced in numbers, and in this case made extinct, by human activity. Passenger pigeons thrived in the USA due to a 374

passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) | Patagonia

lack of natural predators but were vulnerable to human depredations as they only laid one egg each year. Its decline was started by deforestation but in the 1860s and 1870s large-scale commercial hunting of them as a cheap source of meat reduced the population from 5 billion to extinction by around 1900.

pastoralism The rearing of domesticated and semi-domesticated animals as a source of food and other materials and as a symbol of wealth. Nomadic pastoralism developed separately from mixed farming. An expansion of cultivation was often accompanied by a reduction of pastoralism. There were traditional tensions between sedentary farmers and nomadic pastoralists, as well as trade between them (Galaty & Johnson 1990, Smith 1992). Nomadic pastoralism occupies a wide belt of land extending from the W coast of Saharan Africa through E Africa and Arabia to Iran and the Himalayas as well as a zone in the sub-arctic from N Norway to Siberia (Barfield 1993). The mid-Holocene emergence of nomadic pastoralism was adapted to arid or rugged terrain, emerging after, not alongside, agriculture. The domestication of the horse led to the development of pastoral societies on the steppes of Central Asia from c.2000BP and in Arabia and the Sahara at about the same time, using the camel. In sub-Saharan Africa pastoralists relied on cattle. Such societies used land that was marginal for agriculture (Clutton-Brock 1999, Roberts 1998).

pasture Land suitable for grazing by livestock: may be permanent or temporary, rough or improved. Temporary pasture may be part of a rotation incorporating sown grasses or bare fallow. Wood pasture combined grazing with wood production. Areas of pasture on the outer fringes of settlement territories formed reservoirs of land into which more intensive uses, such as arable, could expand in times of population pressure or high food prices.

Patagonia The S part of Argentina and Chile comprising the S Andes to the W and extensive semi-arid steppe-like plateaus and plains to the E, a harsh and challenging environment. The Andes have high precipitation and often stormy conditions which generate the largest icefields in the S hemisphere 375

Patagonia | pays

outside Antarctica. Patagonia was occupied by humans from c.13000BP. From c.1000BP Mapuche-speaking peoples moved S into the region, pushing the original inhabitants further S. The wretchedness of the existence of the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego was commented on by European explorers but the diseases which they brought almost wiped out the indigenous population. From 1865 several hundred Welsh immigrants arrived, establishing autonomous Welsh-speaking communities in remote areas which were later incorporated into the expanding Argentine state. Sheep were introduced from the Falkland Islands in the 1860s and rapidly became the main economic activity. By WW1 Patagonia was the world’s second wool exporter after Australia. Sheep farming peaked during WW2 then declined. The Argentine government passed a law similar to the US Homestead Act granting huge areas of virgin territory to settlers. Some Patagonian sheep farms were huge and were managed by companies. From 1.95 million sheep in 1895 numbers rose to 25 million in 1952 but fell to 14 million in 1988 due to lower world prices and also to the effects of droughts and overgrazing. Land degradation, soil erosion and desertification have become major problems and even today sheep numbers are often in excess of the carrying capacity. Many of the farms created in the late C19 to early C20 have now been abandoned. Recent moves have included combining sheep farming with raising guanacos (Llama guanicoe), relatives of the llama ¨ ngen & Lanari 2010). (Moss 2008, Von Thu

pays In the French meaning of ‘countryside’ pays were relatively small, areas in which physical and human geography interacted to produce distinctive landscapes, identified by local names. Pays had characteristic features such as soil, agriculture, building materials, vernacular architecture, settlement patterns and field systems. Each pays had its own seasonal rhythm of life and labour which helped foster its identity. The concept was developed by the French school of geography, notably in the early C20 by Paul Vidal de la Blache, who identified a complex pattern of these units all over France, many of which are still named on maps or in guidebooks. The transformation of French agriculture since WW2 and other landscape changes have blurred or even obliterated some of these identities. In Britain a similar concept can be traced back to C16 and C17 topographers, who described similar units as ‘countries’. Modern economic historians have identified complex patterns of ‘farming regions’ in England in pre-industrial times which are in many ways comparable with pays. This pattern of landscape 376

pays | peat

units in England was largely removed by industrialization in the C19 but echoes of them survive in sub-county district names for units such as Cartmel, the Fylde and Furness in NW England (Davie 1991, PhythianAdams 1993, 1999, Thirsk 1987).

Peak District Upland area of S Pennines, England forming the S end of the Pennine Hills. The region divides into the White Peak on limestone bedrock and the Dark Peak on gritstone dominated by heather moorland. The area was settled from Mesolithic times and the remains of cairnfields and field systems from later prehistoric times are still clearly visible. Deposits of lead were worked from Roman times onwards, peaking in the C18. Its rocky outcrops, moorlands and caves, as well as its relative proximity to London, made the Peak District an early tourism venue from the C17. Mineral springs at Buxton were used by the Romans and the settlement developed as a spa from the late C18. Proximity to cities like Manchester and Sheffield led to early impacts of air pollution, including peat erosion. In the early C20 the Dark Peak was the setting for battles between walkers and gamekeepers over access to the moorlands, including a famous mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932. Debates over public access to the moors fed into the inter-war national park debate. In 1951 the area became the first national park in the British Isles and now has to accommodate some 22 million visitors a year with problems of overcrowding at honeypot sites, traffic congestion and footpath erosion (Barnatt & Smith 2004).

peat Formed by partial decomposition of vegetation in bogs under wet, acid conditions. In the past upland blanket bogs were sources of pasture, game, wildfowl and particularly fuel. When drained, lowland peat can form prime agricultural land. Commercial peat cutting is recorded from the C12 in Flanders, spreading to the Netherlands by the C14–16 and to medieval Britain (see Norfolk Broads). Ombrotrophic peat bogs (raised mires) are dependent solely on atmospheric sources for their supply of water and nutrients. They developed in NW Europe in the mid-late Holocene due to a combination of climatic deterioration and human impact. Blanket bog involves peat formation due to the waterlogging of the soil with increasing acidity and reduced microbial activity. Valley mires occur where water drains into a basin. Peat can grow across the surfaces of lakes filling them in, but with water below. Only acid-tolerant heather (Calluna vulgaris), 377

peat | permafrost

sphagnum and cotton grass (Eriophorum) can thrive on peat. In some places peat bogs are climatically controlled: in NW Scotland the basal peat predates the arrival of agriculture. Elsewhere much upland peat began to form at or soon after the Elm Decline. The removal of tree cover led to soil erosion, acidification and peat formation. Once formed blanket mires experienced periods of slower growth. At the Boreal/Sub Atlantic transition c.2500BP across NW Europe dark oxidised peat from periods of slow growth gave way to lighter undecomposed sphagnum peat from a phase of wetness and growth. Peat has long been cut and dried for domestic fuel and for industrial processes such as kelp burning, lime burning and lead smelting. Blanket peat in upland areas of N England, Wales and Scotland has been characterized by erosion in recent decades with sets of gullies reaching down to the sub-peat surface and gradually spreading sideways to remove the peat entirely; some gullies are as much as 400–500 years old. In the Peak District the early onset of erosion has been attributed to atmospheric pollution by industry. Peat erosion can, however, be reversed with careful management (Wishart & Warburton 2001).

perceptions of the environment These may differ considerably from reality and in some cases may lead to environmental disasters. For example, failure to appreciate the extent of the threat posed by drought has been a perennial problem on the US Great Plains since the 1890s. In a study of how Great Plains farmers perceived the drought hazard Saarinen (1966) found that farmers were aware of the threat of drought but consistently underestimated its frequency, exaggerating the number of good years. Lacking accurate climatic data they often fitted the cycles into pre-conceived, biblical, time frameworks, such as the seven good and the seven lean years of Joseph’s Egypt. However, the more arid the area the closer were the farmers’ estimates to reality.

periglacial processes and landforms See permafrost.

permafrost Ground frozen for two years or more. Underlies c.25% of land in N hemisphere. Distribution is controlled by climate, geology, hydrology, topography and vegetation. Divided into continuous and discontinuous. The latter can reach as far S as 50– in China and around Hudson Bay. It can 378

permafrost | Peru

be up to 1,500 m thick in Siberia. It is also widespread in high mountain areas. Freeze-thaw action can lead to the formation of patterned ground. Permafrost is an obstacle to human settlement. Pipelines, like the TransAlaska Pipeline, have to be elevated above ground to prevent damage. Roads and buildings can be affected when permafrost under them melts. The limit of continuous permafrost coincides with the –5– C to –6– C annual isotherm. Sporadic permafrost can occur with higher temperatures. Permafrost was much more extensive on the margins of Pleistocene glaciers (see glaciations, Pleistocene) and ice sheets, as shown by fossil patterned ground and frost wedges in areas like E Anglia or Kent, England. In the USA it extended as far S as 38– . Permafrost has preserved the bodies of late glacial animals like mammoths (Goudie 1992, Jorgenson et al. 2001, Lachenbruch & Marshall 1986, Nelson et al. 2001).

persecution of wildlife Pre-agricultural communities hunted birds and animals for food. Agricultural societies increasingly killed them as pests and predators which could damage crops or kill livestock. In many areas or Europe numbers of predators were probably not seriously affected by human activity until the medieval expansion of population. Lovegrove (2007) has traced the history of wildlife persecution in Britain from the C16: the build-up of population with a rise in food prices and periodic famine may have underlain parliamentary acts of 1532 and 1566 which offered bounties for killing a range of species. Local churchwardens’ records indicate considerable regional variation in the scale of persecution and the probability is that there was relatively little overall effect. Much more drastic in its results was the campaign waged by gamekeepers in the C19 and early C20, which saw species like osprey, red kite and white-tailed sea eagle eliminated from Britain or almost so. Despite legislation persecution by gamekeepers of birds of prey like hen harriers and peregrines continues together with the theft of eggs for illegal collections. In the past a surprising range of species were considered as vermin. Bullfinches were killed in SW England because of the damage they caused to the buds of fruit trees and red squirrels were killed when numbers were high because they supposedly damaged trees.

Peru Population of 30 million in 2010, the third largest country in S America with 12 million km2, Peru has a wide range of environments from the coastal plain, the slopes of the Andes, the mountains and high plateaux 379

Peru | Petra

and to the E tropical rain forests in the upper Amazon. Only 3% is arable but 66% forested with an annual loss of 0.3–5%, much less than in many Latin American states. Forest loss is due to clearance for subsistence rather than commercial farming. Gold mining using hydraulic methods has caused serious problems of river sedimentation and pollution. Overgrazing on the semi-arid W slopes of the Andes has led to serious soil erosion. Before the arrival of the Spaniards in the early C16 earlier cultures had focused on the coast or the mountains. Evidence from ice cores drilled in the Quelccaya ice cap show that periods of wetness on the altiplano usually coincided with phases of drought on the coast and vice versa, Highland cultures like the Huari and Inca and coastal ones like the Chimor tended to flourish during pluvial periods. Before the Incas the Chico Norte culture flourished from c.3000BC and the Chavin culture from c.900BC. Coastal cultures like the Moche and Nazca developed between c.100BC and AD700 but seems to have declined due to floods and ˜ o events. Some Inca sites, notable Machu droughts caused by El Nin Picchu, have been badly degraded by large numbers of visitors in a very fragile environment.

pesticides Natural or synthetic substances which kill animals, insects, plants, fungi and microorganisms and affect crops and livestock or are otherwise detrimental to human health. Used in agriculture, horticulture and forestry since prehistoric times but developed rapidly in the C20. The invention of DDT especially had major impacts on crop pests but adverse effects elsewhere in ecosystems (See Rachel Carson). Use of herbicides against weeds competing with crops for light, water and nutrients developed on a large scale from the 1930s and led to major increases in crop yields but with the danger of plants developing herbicide resistance. DDT was used to control lice (causing typhus) and mosquitoes (malaria). It is still used in some developing countries being cheap to make and non-toxic to humans; it is easily washed into soils by rain causing loss of protection to the plants and killing soil insects. Insects can also develop resistance to insecticides and new ones are constantly needed. Fungicides were mostly inorganic before the C20, like sulphur or lime.

Petra The ‘rose red city half as old as time’ of the Nabataeans in a desert area of Jordan. It rose as a trading centre in the C6BC due to the effective control of 380

Petra | phylloxera

irregular water supplies by means of reservoirs, cisterns and channels. The city declined under Roman rule as trade routes became oriented to the Mediterranean rather than overland and after an earthquake wrecked the irrigation system in AD360 the city was abandoned.

pH A measure of the acidic or alkaline strength of a substance (e.g. soils) on a logarithmic scale ranging from 0–14 with 7 as the neutral value. Values below 7 are acidic, and above 7 alkaline. Acidic soils need to have their pH raised by the application of lime or other substances to improve productivity.

phenology The study of the timing of the life cycle events of living things, especially biological events like the leaf opening, flowering and leaf fall of plants, which are often very sensitive to environmental conditions, especially climate change. They provide data that can be used to establish climatic variations; eg. the flowering of the cherry blossom in Kyoto, Japan.

photography Photographs are a valuable source of information on environmental change from the mid-C19 onwards. They have been used to monitor changes in the limits of alpine glaciers (Le Roy Ladurie 1971). But photographs are not value-free: they are cultural documents as much as written accounts or maps. Photographers, in their selection of viewpoints and their composition of scenes, have their own agendas and ‘imaginative geographies’ which demonstrate their attitudes to the environment being photographed and its inhabitants. Late nineteenth-century photographs taken within the British Empire were part of a ‘colonial discourse’ in which photographs can tell us as much as maps or documents about the imaginative geographies of the colonizers (Ryan 1995).

phylloxera An insect which attacks the roots and leaves of grape vines and kills them. They were discovered on wild grapes in N America in 1856. In the 1850s they were carried from the USA to Europe but it was discovered that some American vines were resistant to them. Phylloxera emerged in S France in 1866. Within 20 years it had affected all wine-producing regions of France 381

phylloxera | Picturesque

and spread throughout Europe in the 1870s as well as to S Africa, Peru and New Zealand. In the 1880s French vines were grafted on to American rootstocks, a process which took until the 1920s to complete (Ordish 1957, Unwin 1996).

Picturesque A distinctively British landscape aesthetic which was exported around the world to influence how landscapes were viewed. Sometimes seen as part of the Romantic Movement, sometimes as its precursor. Picturesque was identified as an intermediate landscape category between Edmund Burke’s opposites of beautiful (soft, gentle, rolling, fertile) and sublime (imposing, awe-inspiring, scary). Picturesque involved a variety of form and line, with irregularity rather than ruggedness. It was originally defined as a view which would look good in a picture, specifically compositions by Claude Lorrain and his contempories working in and around Rome in the C17, which were avidly collected by British nobility undertaking the Grand Tour of Europe in the C18. Picturesque composition had structures reminiscent of stage sets with side screens (trees, rocks, classical ruins) framing the view, foreground figures lit up by a band of light, water in the middle distance and mountains in the background. In the later C18 the theoretical basis of the Picturesque was developed by Uvedale Price and Richard Payne Knight and there was increasing interest in ruined castles and abbeys as picturesque subjects. At the same time a fashion for picturesque tourism developed. Its most popular advocate was the Rev. William Gilpin who in the later C18 undertook a series of picturesque tours to different parts of Britain. These were written up and published, not so much as guidebooks, but as manuals on how to see the landscape in picturesque terms. Gilpin’s books and early guides, like Thomas West’s Guide to the Lake District, directed visitors to specific beauty spots or ‘stations’ from which the landscape was viewed, described in poetry or prose, sketched or painted. The aim was to decide by what margin nature fell short of the artistic picturesque ideal. Artists could improve on nature in their work by re-arranging landscape features to create better compositions. Picturesque tourists carried Claude Glasses, oval or round convex mirrors which could be propped against a rock or suspended from a branch. The glass reduced the background and enlarged the foreground, converting the landscape to something more picturesque. Tourists then stood with their backs to the real landscape and admired the reflection in the glass. Such activities inevitably lent themselves to satire, notably by Rowlandson in the 382

Picturesque | place names

‘Tour of Dr. Syntax in search of the Picturesque’ (Syntax being a thinly veiled caricature of Gilpin) and by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey. Poets like Wordsworth and artists like Turner embraced the picturesque in the early stages of their careers. However, in 1798 Wordsworth, in his ‘Tintern Abbey’ poem and Turner in pictures of Buttermere and Coniston broke free of the rigid conventions of the picturesque, looking at the landscape as it really was, and assessing how it affected them personally: the Romantic Movement was born. Nevertheless the picturesque gaze carried on well into the C19 influencing how British people viewed landscape at home and how the environments of areas like N America, Australia and the Caribbean were interpreted and altered by Europeans (Andrews 1989, 1999).

Pitcairn Island Chosen in 1790 as a refuge by the mutineers from HMS Bounty because it was remote and uninhabited, it had previously supported a Polynesian population, along with Henderson Island to the E. The demise of this population is linked to a catastrophe on their more populous trading partner, Mangareva. This remote area of S Polynesia was settled c.AD800. Even the more accessible Mangareva is 1,000 km from the nearest larger island groups, the Society Islands and the Marquesas. Of the three islands Mangareva was capable of supporting the largest population, producing sweet potatoes and yams, breadfruit and bananas, fish and shellfish but with no good stone for tools. Obsidian and basalt were imported from Pitcairn, 300 km away, which probably never had a population of more than c.100. The smaller, more distant Henderson Island probably never supported more than a few dozen inhabitants exporting, possibly, turtles. Deforestation and soil erosion on Mangareva may have caused a decline in population while a shortage of timber began to affect trade with the other islands. By c.AD1500 contact between them had ceased and the population on Henderson had died out by AD1600 when it was ‘discovered’ by Europeans. Diamond (2005) has used this as an example of marginal communities whose continuing existence was undermined by anthropologically-generated environmental deterioration (Bemton & Spencer 1995).

place names Place names are often descriptive of past environments which may not correspond to modern conditions (Henshaw 2003). They are ubiquitous 383

place names | plague

and some may be thousands of years old. Some British river names are thought to be pre-Celtic in origin. The language in which they were created helps demonstrate chronologies of settlement and may indicate the character of past environments and processes of environmental change: e.g. English names containing the Old Norse elements ‘thwaite’ (a clearing, usually in woodland) or ‘saetr’, (a summer pasture). Place names from the C5–9AD Anglo-Saxon settlement in England record large scale woodland clearance in names with elements like-leah (clearing), -feld, and -wood. The adoption by Europeans of Indian place names in N America and Aboriginal names in Australia give the names of modern settlements a distinctive ring. Numbers of indigenous inhabitants in many parts of the world which experienced European settlement may be limited today but their names tell us something about the environment their ancestors lived in and helped to shape (Gelling 2010).

plaggen soils A form of anthrosol, the word comes from the German ‘to cut sods’. Deep organic soil layers formed to maintain soil fertility by the addition of turf as well as animal manure. The turf was cut from outfields or surrounding pastures and used as bedding for livestock before being spread on the infields. Sand might also be used in this way. Plaggen soils are characteristic of the NW coasts of Europe as well as sandy areas in the Netherlands, N Germany and Belgium. In Orkney radiocarbon dating shows that the creation of plaggen soils began in late Norse times c.AD1240–1400, perhaps being introduced by the monastic orders, and continued to form over 600 years until the C19 when it was replaced by chemical fertilizers, though in some islands in Shetland these methods continued into the 1960s. Buried fossil cultivated soils in Orkney, Fair Isle and Shetland date from c.2000BC to the early centuries AD (Conry 1974, Foster & Smout 1988, Simpson 1993, 1995, 2001).

plagioclimax An ecosystem or habitat in which human intervention (e.g. deforestation, agriculture, grazing) prevents any firther development (see ecosystem).

plague See bubonic plague. 384

planned rural settlements | planned towns

planned rural settlements Settlement planning was characteristic of population expansion in many parts or medieval Europe: e.g. on the fringes of the uplands in N England (Roberts 1983) and in E Germany as part of the colonization of the Slav lands. Medieval planned villages often had two rows of farms and cottages facing each other across a street or wider green, with parallel back lanes and holdings running away from the settlement to the edge of the forest (waldhufendorfer in Germany). Not only were the layouts of settlements regular; so was their spacing in the landscape, providing the case study on which the German geographer Walter Christaller based his central place theory. In later centuries planned villages were often built with landlord finance as the showpieces of estates. Sometimes existing villages were removed when parks were enlarged, and were rebuilt with regular layouts some distance away, as with Edensor at Chatsworth, Derbyshire. In C18 and early C19 Scotland large numbers of planned estate villages were created as part of the wider process of estate improvement to absorb labour released by the reorganization and amalgamation of farms, providing local foci for artisan activities. Plans varied from simple 1 and 2-row layouts to complex grids with central market places as at Newcastleton (Philip 2003, 2005, Lockhart 1980).

planned towns The need to accommodate sizeable populations within a small area, often closely circumscribed by defensive walls, led to the early development of urban planning, not least for water supply and waste disposal. Grid patterns for streets with central squares and market places were common in the ancient world: cities of the Indus valley like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro are among the earliest known examples, with a hierarchy of paved streets. Planned layouts for streets and utilities were widespread in the classical world: the Romans had a standardized pattern with a central forum surrounded by administrative buildings and a grid of streets. Many medieval towns were also regularly laid out, like the fortified bastides of medieval SW France. Urban fires sometimes provided opportunities for replanning along with rebuilding but sometimes the chance to re-plan was not seized, as with London after the Great Fire of 1666. The development of complex Renaissance fortifications designed to protect against artillery gave rise to some very regular urban layouts as with Florence in Italy and Naarden in the Netherlands with street plans designed to allow the rapid transfer of troops from one part of the defences to another. The scale of the 385

planned towns | plantations

defences sometimes strangled the towns they protected, preventing further growth. During the same period residential areas of European cities began to be re-planned or laid out afresh with wide, straight streets flanked by uniform terraces, focusing on a vista with a monument or public building framing the view. Such plans also had the advantage of providing clear fields of fire for artillery. Grid layouts were also associated with some industrial communities and widely with American cities, epitomising the age of order and rationality. In the C19 many European cities were given a facelift to remove cramped medieval strets and buildings, none more so than Paris under Baron Haussmann. Following WW2 many European cities were rebuilt and extended under the modernist influence of architects like Le Corbusier with high tower blocks separated by garden space: the development at La Defence in Paris is an example. Since the 1970s postmodernist ideas stressing diversity and variety have become influential as with the redevelopment of Amsterdam’s docklands. In the late C19 and early C20 the Garden City movement was influential, with sinuous street patterns rather than grids, and lots of green space, as with British towns like Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City and post-war new towns such as Milton Keynes.

plant macrofossils Portions of plants that are visible to the naked eye including seeds, leaves and twigs which have been preserved in waterlogged or frozen conditions. Buried tree trunks can be dated by dendrochronology.

plantations First developed in late medieval times in Cyprus for cultivating sugar by the 1450s plantations had spread to Madeira. They were then introduced to Brazil and from there to the Caribbean and subsequently diffused widely in the Americas. Until the C19 they were mostly confined to the Americas but then developed rapidly in Africa and Asia. Plantations offered economies of scale. With tree crops like rubber, coconut, oil palm, or coffee there was a considerable time lag between planting and production. Early plantations in the Americas focused on single labour-intensive crops which needed infrastructure, like sugar mills and cotton gins, to produce. In Asia before the C19 most export crops were grown by peasants. The opening of the Suez Canal (1869) and the development of steamships increased demand for many crops and encouraged the creation of plantations owned by companies using exotic labour. Monocultures producing a wide range of 386

plantations | plough marks

tropical and subtropical crops including bananas, coffee, cocoa, cotton, palm oil, rubber, sisal, sugar, tea and tobacco. Tobacco did not require capital investment like sugar and was first grown on smallholdings. Imports to London rose from 20,000 lbs 1619 to 22m lbs by the end of the C17. Tobacco exausted the soil after 3–4 years and the frontier had to move on quickly. Cotton experienced increasing demand from Britain in the C19 with the Industrial Revolution. Imports in the C18 were mainly from the W Indies and Turkey but production in the USA was transformed by the invention of the cotton gin. Like tobacco, continuous cultivation exhausted the soil and cotton production soon moved W to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Until the C19 tea was cultivated only in Japan and China. Once the British E India Company’s monopoly on the tea trade ended in 1833 cultivation developed in Assam then S India and Ceylon. In Assam large plantations were cleared from forest and by 1900 764 of them covered 140,000ha and 150,000ha by 1900 in Ceylon. For much of the C19 most rubber production came from wild trees in Amazonia. In 1877 it was first tried in Malaya and by 1970 13.5 million ha were under rubber trees there. Coffee was indigenous to Africa but was not grown there on a large scale. The Dutch began cultivation in SE Asia; Ceylon in the late C17, Java in the early C18, but coffee blight disease in 1870 led to Brazil becoming the world’s leading producer. Cultivation was first tried near Rio de Janeiro in 1774 and by the late C19 three quarters of the world’s production came from Brazil. Britain developed coffee growing in E Africa: in Malawi from 1878, Kenya from 1885, Uganda from 1900. Bananas were brought from the Canary Islands to America; they had previously been a purely local crop. The development of refrigerated shipping in the 1890s allowed plantation crops like bananas to be brought to N America and Europe on a large scale.

Pleistocene An epoch within the Quaternary Period preceding the Holocene. The Pleistocene lasted c.2.5 m years, ending c.12 kya ago. It was characterized by at least 17 glacial and interglacial phases with periodicities of 100, 41 and 23 kya.

plough marks Patterns of shallow furrows cut at right angles to each other discovered in ancient land surfaces buried under Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments created by the use of ards or scratch ploughs (Taylor 1975). 387

ploughs | ploughteams

ploughs The first light scratch plough or ard probably originated as a digging stick attached to a frame for human or animal traction with a tip of fire-hardened wood or a sharpened stone. Light ploughs cut shallow grooves in the soil, not penetrating to any depth, helping to conserve moisture, an important advantage in their area of origin in the Near E. These shallow grooves, ploughed in one direction then at right angles, have been identified on buried land surfaces below Bronze Age barrows; e.g. at Gwithian (Cornwall). In early medival times between AD650–800 the heavy wheeled plough or caruca developed; it comprised a robust frame, an iron coulter for cutting vertically through weeds, an iron share, a moundboard for turning a furrow slice and sometimes wheels which controlled the depth of ploughing (White 1976). Although elements of the heavy plough were known to the Romans the fully developed plough seems to have spread in middle Saxon times. Its use is linked to the development of open field systems; the use of a heavy plough drawn by as many as 8 or 10 oxen is considered to have led directly to ploughing in long, narrow strips marked by ridge and furrow, grouped into furlongs which in turn were collected into large open fields. The reverse-S shaped aratral curve of medieval ridge and furrow is thought to have resulted from the practice of ploughmen starting to edge their heavy ploughs and cumbersome teams round before the end of a strip was reached to avoid the difficulty of making a full 180-degree turn. The effectiveness of the plouhteam was increased by the use of horses instead of oxen from the C9 with the development of a rigid collar which rested on the horses’ shoulders rather than on their necks, increasing their pulling power x4 or x5. There was a close link between the use of horses in ploughteams and 3-course rotations including spring sown crops like oats which was fed to the horses. (See open fields.) Medieval heavy ploughs still remained fairly crude implements and it was only in the C18 that there was a serious attempt to improve their design and quality.

ploughteams The standard medieval ploughteam for a heavy plough was 8 oxen, yoked in pairs, giving rise to the ploughgate (the amount of land which could be cultivated by such a team in a year) as a rough measure of the extent of arable land, divided into 8 oxgates. Larger teams of up to 12 oxen might be used for breaking in new land, smaller ones on lighter soils. In England horses replaced oxen in ploughteams only slowly: 25–30% of manorial land was still being cultivated by oxen at the end of the C14. The change is 388

ploughteams | polder

thought to have accompanied a move from a two- to a three-course rotation in some areas because of the need to provide oats for horse fodder (Simmons 2001) (see open fields, ploughs).

pluvial Periods of heavier than normal precipitation. C19 American geologists linked the high shorelines of formerly extensive lakes in the semi-arid areas of the US W to periods of glacial advance. The idea that glacial climates were wetter than today was adopted by European scientists. High lake levels in arid areas of Africa and Asia were then assumed to relate to glacial times. Radiocarbon dating in the 1960s showed that high lake levels in E Africa related to the early Holocene rather than the last glacial maximum. It is widely believed that during periods of maximum glaciations tropical deserts were drier than today and wetter during the interglacials. In areas like E Africa former lake levels have been used to data such periods (Roberts 1989).

podsols Soils on acid substrates or in areas of high rainfall characterized by leaching of iron minerals and humus from the upper horizons and deposition lower down the profile, sometimes forming an iron pan. Characteristic of heaths and moorlands. The process of podsolisation can be initiated by deforestation for agriculture and involves leaching of the upper soil horizons and deposition lower down in the profile and the development of peat bogs (Evans et al. 1975).

polder Low-lying area surrounded by embankments, reclaimed from the sea, lakes, marshes or floodplains. Excess water may be removed by pumping. Soils on polders often have a high peat content and may be liable to shrinkage as they dry out, sometimes bringing the surface below sea level. Embankments or dikes need to be carefully maintained to avoid breaching and flooding. The term is particularly associated with the Netherlands which has some 3,000 of them, created from medieval to modern times. The 1953 floods (see N Sea) led to major improvements in the strength and design of the dikes. In the 1950s the Zuider Zee was closed off from the sea by a 70 km long dike and became a lake, the Ijsselmeer, which was drained to form 4 polders including the Flevoland polder (528 km2), the largest in the


polder | pollen analysis (palynology)

Netherlands. The Ijsselmeer polders (1,620 km2 overall) are rich agricultural land with some industry and housing.

pollarding Producing timber in conjunction with grazing by cutting deciduous trees off 2.55–3.4 m above the ground. The trunks (bolling) then sent up a crop of shoots beyond the reach of browsing animals. The poles could be cut after some years as with coppicing. Pollards were grown in hedgerows and were a common feature of deer parks, forming wood pasture, a habitat now rare in Britain where most of the pollards which survive on field boundaries having been planted in the C16 and C17 when wood pasture was dying out but they are more widespread in parts of the Mediterranean. Individual pollards could be many centuries old. The poles and their leaves were used for fodder. In England the upper branches of holly trees were cut and stored for winter fodder. Pollarding went out of use in C19 England: overgrown pollards have long heavy branches which can make the tree top heavy and liable to fall (Fleming 1998, Muir 2000, Rackham 2006).

pollen analysis (palynology) The study of vegetation change from variations in the mix of pollen grains from successive samples in cores from peat bogs or lake sediments. The technique was first developed in Scandinavia in the early C20 by Lennart von Post. It has become the most important and widespread technique for reconstructing Holocene environments, for correlating sites and for identifying and explaining environmental changes. The pollen grains of plants survive well in deposits such as lake sediments and peat bogs from which air is excluded so that decay is prevented. Laboratory processes remove other organic matter leaving only the pollen grains with their resistant, protective shells (the exine). Pollen grains can be identified under a microscope to the level of genus for trees and to family level for some grasses and herbs. In a sample of pollen individual grains can be identified and counted so that the proportions of grains from different genera and families allows a reconstruction of the vegetation that produced the fossil pollen in the form of a pollen diagram. Sampling at regular intervals through a core allows changes through time to be identified: inferences about the causes of these changes may then be made by looking at broad scale features such as the changing balance between arboreal (tree) pollen and that of herbs and grasses, or at a finer scale the presence of indicator species such as the pollen of domesticated cereals or weeds associated with 390

pollen analysis (palynology)

cultivation such as Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata). In W Europe the vegetation changes revealed in the pollen record are due to changing environmental factors during the early Holocene, but from c.6,000BP they are increasingly the result of human activity. Where many cores containing pollen have been extracted from sites within a fairly limited are, such as the English Lake District, it is possible to contrast patterns of vegetation change between valley bottoms, valley sides and upland ridges (Pearsall & Pennington 1973). Making inferences about what a pollen assemblage shows, about the vegetation that produced it, and what factors influenced changes in that vegetation is complicated. Pollen grains from different species have different susceptibilities to decay in particular depositional circumstances. Also, different species produce pollen in different quantities: alder, birch, hazel, pine and oak generate · 2 as much pollen as elm and · 8 as much as lime and ash, which has caused the significance of the last 2 species as components of British woodlands in the past to be underestimated. Windpollenated species tend to produce more pollen than insect pollenated ones. Self-pollenated species like cultivated cereals produce relatively little pollen. Some pollen travels further than others; Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) grains, with large air sacs, can be dispersed widely from their source while the pollen of cultivated cereals, much heavier, has a much more localized distribution. Most wind-borne pollen is deposited within a few kilometres of its origin but some travels further. This may explain the presence of tree pollen, both in the past and today, at sites in treeless environments like Greenland. At any locality a proportion of the pollen will have been generated within the local catchment area, whether transported by wind or water. At a very local scale the prominence of certain types of pollen grain in a sample will also be influenced by the nature of the site and the direction of the prevailing wind: trees upwind of a coring location will be better represented than those downwind. Once allowance has been made for such influences the nature of changes in the pattern of pollen also needs to be established with care (Roberts 1998). The principal factors affecting vegetation patterns likely to be identified from the study of pollen are climatic and human influence, but the response of plants to climate is complex. In addition local environmental factors such as drainage may have a strong influence. With lake sediments the erosion of peat deposits elsewhere within the catchment area may result in older pollen grains being washed out and deposited on top of younger ones (Tallis 1991, Tallis & Switsur 1990, Tipping 2005, 2010). 391

pollen zones | pollution

pollen zones Swedish botanist Lennart Van Post established in 1916 a set of ‘zones’ for the vegetation history of NW Europe since the end of the last ice age which were refined for Denmark by J. Iversen in 1954. These ‘biostratigraphic divisions’ were based on stratification in peat bogs and effectively also defined different climatic periods. It is now widely considered that the assumptions on which this reconstruction of climate was based may be flawed. There was a time lag between temperature rises in any area and the spread of particular species due to the slow development of suitable soil conditions and the speed at which trees could migrate and colonize new habitats. More recently other interpretations, such as the expansion of alder being a reflection of increasing climatic wetness, have also been questioned (Edwards and Ralston 1997). It is now thought that this may have been largely related to purely local changes in hydrology at particular sites. The initiation of peat growth may have been due to factors other than the onset of cooler, wetter climatic conditions, such as poor land management, leading to the compaction of soils and impaired drainage.

pollution The conventional view is that pollution is simply the by-product of industrial processes; another slant is that rather than being a consequence of modernization pollution is central to the origins of modern society (Bernhard & Massard-Guilband 2002).

agricultural pollution Agriculture generates liquid and solid wastes which cause pollution due to the runoff and leaching of chemicals from fertilizers, pesticides and material eroded by wind and water. Some chemicals such as PCB in modern sheep dip can poison fish a long way downstream even in tiny quantities.

air pollution Air pollution can be natural (from dust-storms and sandstorms, tephra, forest fires) or generated by human activity such as the combustion of fossil fuels and wood, but also comes from industrial processes such as the smelting of heavy metals and includes smells caused by food and industrial processing (in the past brewing, butchering meat, making candles and processing leather were notoriously smelly and were relegated to the fringes 392

Biostratigraphic division

Sub-Atlantic Sub-Boreal Atlantic Boreal


Younger Dryas Allerød Oscillation Older Dryas Bølling oscillation Oldest Dryas





Pollen zones

8800–8300BC 9800–8800BC 10000–9800BC 10500–10,000BC 13000–10,500BC


500BC to present 3000–500BC 5500–3000BC 7700–5500BC


Tundra Tundra and birch forest Tundra Park tundra Tundra

Mixed oak forest Mixed oak forest Pine/birch forest but with increasing deciduous forest Birch forest


Late Upper Mesolithic Late Upper Late Upper Late Upper Late Upper Late Upper

Palaeolithic Palaeolithic palaeolithic Palaeolithic palaeolithic


Iron Age onwards Bronze Age and Iron Age Neolithic and Bronze Age Mesolithic

Archaeological periods (N Europe)


of towns). Some cities have had bad air pollution problems due to locations in which topography helps trap pollution: e.g. Mexico City. In the C20–21 pollution from internal combustion engines has become a major environmental problem (from the 1940s in the USA, after WW2 elsewhere. This was worsened by the addition of lead to petrol from the 1920s: all American urban dwellers in the mid-C20 suffered from lead pollution until lead as an additive was phased out in the 1970s. It was not banned in the EU until 2000. Concentrations of heavy industry in urban areas created especially bad air pollution problems in the Ruhr, Meuse valley, Britain and the American Mid-W. The dangers posed by the escape of the most toxic gases are illustrated by Bhopal. The air pollution problem has improved in cities of the developing world not just due to legislation controlling emissions but also by the shift from coal to electricity, oil and natural gas as fuels from the 1950s in the US and Britain though at the same time there was a corresponding increase in pollution problems in the growing industrial areas of developing countries (Dewey 2000, Mosley 2001). Air pollution has been a problem at a local scale since Palaeolithic cave dwelling but began to be a wider environmental problem with the rise of towns and cities. Air pollution occurs naturally with SO2, sand, dust and smoke arising from eruptions, dust storms and fires. Human sources of air pollution are particularly associated with the burning of fossil fuels but also with processes such as smelting metals and manufacturing chemicals. Complaints about air pollution go back to medieval times (Hipkins & Watts 1996). In Britain the link between poor health and smoke was understood from at least the late C17. For much of the Victorian period lung disease caused c.25% of all deaths. Problems were worst in cities where a shortage of wood caused a switch to coal, a dirtier domestic fuel. This was evident in London in medieval times and on a larger scale from the C16. John Evelyn’s Fumi Fugium (1661) gives a contemporarary account of air pollution and its effects in London resulting from the smoke produced from brewing, soap boiling and lime burning as well as domestic use. He recommended that industries using a lot of coal should be banished from the city (Brimblecombe 1987, Denton 2000). In 1650 London used 200,000 tons of coal a year, by 1800 seven times this amount. The colder winters of the Little Ice Age stimulated coal burning. London used 200,000 tons of coal in 1650 but 1.4 m tons by 1800 (Simmons 2001). Clean Air Acts in 1956 and 1968 followed the London smog of winter 1952–3 when c.4,000 people died from bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory complaints. The use of smokeless fuels was gradually instituted but changes such as the phasing out of steam 394


railway engines, the advent of N Sea gas and oil and the switch from coal fires to central heating for domestic use were also crucial. Less visible but equally dangerous pollutants have taken the place of those released by burning coal (Colls 2002). Air quality in some Chinese cities is currently the worst in the world: pollution levels are several times higher than are considered safe due to the increase in the number of vehicles and coal-fired energy generation. Average blood lead levels in Chinese city dwellers are nearly twice those considered dangerously high elsewhere – c.300,000 deaths a year in China may be due to air pollution (Diamond 2005). Air pollution in the UK today causes c.20,000 early deaths each year and reduces UK life expectancy by 7–8 months. With the Industrial Revolution from the late C18 air pollution became a wider problem in Britain and began to spread elsewhere. The smelting of metallic ores like copper and lead caused locally severe problems, sometimes reduced by constructing long flues to hilltop locations where the fumes were spread more widely by the wind. By the end of the C19 burning coal for domestic and industrial use was the main cause of air pollution in Britain, also affecting parts of Belgium, Germany, the USA, Ukraine and Japan. Later in the C20 E Europe, S Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia also developed badly polluted areas, and from the 1970s China. Since WW2 many cities have made major improvements to their air quality. Smoke abatement policies spread rapidly after WW2, helped by suburbanization which distributed polluters over wider areas and the shift from coal to oil and gas as fuels. In London air pollution was at its worst in the late C19. Around 3,000 additional people died of pollution-related problems in the winter of 1879–80 alone when central London received in winter only a sixth of the sunshine of small country towns. The Public Health Act of 1875 allowed local authorities to act if they desired but a century after the first hesitant effors to remove smoke it still remained a major problem. The London ‘smog’ (a word created in 1905 from a combination of smoke and fog) of 4–10 December 1952 led directly to the 1956 Clean Air Act which regulated domestic smoke, reducing the city’s sulphur emissions by 90% by 1988. Although these measures removed London smogs pollution from other sources, including low-level ozone, has risen to such a level that claims have been made that under conditions of still air in London pollution is a greater health hazard than the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl. Reduction of pollution in industrial areas like the Ruhr and especially E Europe has come more gradually, the former from the 1960s, the latter from the 1990s, due as much to the decline of industry with the collapse of communism as to greater regulation. 395


Today one of the major air pollution problems is vehicle emissions, starting in the USA in the 1920s, affecting W. Europe after the 1950s then Japan and more recently other large cities in China and elsewhere. In Los Angeles photochemical smog has been a problem from the 1950s, partly due to the city’s situation, surrounded by mountains. Athens experiences similar problems. Rapid growth of population and wealth in such cities has led to a major increase in vehicle ownership (McNeill 2000). In 1992 it was estimated that aerosol particles alone in the world’s cities killed c.300– 700,000 a year, or 25–40 m for the whole C20, on a par with the 1918–19 influenza pandemic. In the USA after the late 1970s air pollution killed c.30–60,000 people a year, comparable with the death toll from car accidents (McNeill 2000). There are records of smog episodes in London in the C17, 25 in the C18 and more in the C19, especially towards the end of the Victorian era. Before the C19 only London burnt enough coal to cause much pollution. By the late C19 a fifth of coal was burnt in domestic grates: British open fires were wasteful of heat compared with continental stoves. Much of the smoke over large cities was industrial rather than domestic in origin. Railways also generated a lot of smoke. More insidious was the emission of hydrochloric acid as a by-product of the Leblanc Process in alkali manufacturein English towns like Runcorn, St Helens and Widnes; miles downwind of them trees could barely grow. During the 1950s the amount of industrial smoke declined in Britain due to the growing use of electricity and more efficient furnaces and boilers. C19 industrial cities are usually portrayed as lax in environmental matters but Manchester took a strong stand against air pollution, modifying its traditional administrative practices and creating new bodies to deal with it and other environmental matters, though pro-industrial sympaties prevented the prosecution of offenders. Smoke abatement was also limited by available technology. (Bowler & Brindlecombe 2000). In Liverpool there were attempts to limit smoke pollution from the late 1840s. A smoke prevention committee supervised the work of two inspectors who offered advice to local firms on reducing pollution and prosecuting offenders including shipowners, factories and workhouses. They were driven by public health concerns but also the protection of the city’s new buildings. Despite this by the late C19 Liverpool was notorious for air pollution (Hawes 1998). Metal industries of the industrial towns on the SW side of the S Wales coalfield produced ‘copper smoke’ which caused major health problems (DuPuis 2004, Newell & Watts 1996, Viles 1996). 396


lake pollution Cleaning up rivers can be accomplished quite quickly but in lakes the pollutants can remain for decades. From the 1930s, with increasing use of fertilizers, eutrophication emerged as a major problem. Nitrates and phosphates, first from urban sewage and later washed in from agricultural land, led to algal blooms consuming oxygen needed by animal life. Severe algal blooms occurred on L. Zurich from the end of the C19 and in the N Italian lakes from the 1940s. Even the Baltic, in many respects almost a lake, experienced eutrophication from the 1950s with the effects of urban waste from Stockholm, Helsinki, Leningrad and other cities. In the 1960s the Adriatic and Black Seas also experienced problems (Battarbee 1998, McNeill 2000).

light pollution A relatively recent large-scale environmental problem affecting large cities and conurbations, caused by artificial lighting of buildings, streets and motorways obscuring the night sky. It was first noted in the USA: in Britain it now affects a large proportion of England.

marine pollution Towns and ports on the coast or in estuaries simply discharged their untreated sewage directly into the sea until the second half of the C20. Since WW2 the steel and chemical industries, oil refining and electricity generation have also been attracted to coastal and estuarine sites and have contributed to pollution. Eutrophication due to the inwash of nitrates and phosphates from sewage and agricultural fertilizers has affected shallow landlocked seas like the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. Coastal waters are particularly vulnerable to pollution from heavy industry. Plastics, which degrade very slowly, collect in concentrations in the N Pacific and Atlantic, the former known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: the material enters the sea from rivers, coasts or shipping. In the N Sea the density of pollution has been high enough to cause algal blooms poisoning marine mammals.

noise pollution Noise has been defined as unwanted sound. At a local scale causes can include insensitive neighbours and even church bells. In broader environmental terms it is caused particularly by industrial processes, traffic on streets and motorways, railways, and aircraft. The effects of noise around airports can



be reduced by timing of runway use and the direction of the flight path. Motorway noise can be reduced by noise barriers.

river pollution The streams supplying water to all the early civilizations were polluted by urban dwellers tipping sewage and rubbish into them. Early legislation, like an English Act of Parliament of 1388 which imposed a hefty penalty of £20 for anyone caught dropping dung, filth and entrails into urban streams, had little effect. From the C17 urbanization and industrial growth made the problem worse and affected larger areas. Cholera outbreaks in Britain 1831, 1848, 1853–4 and 1866 caused the problem to be tackled more seriously. The link between cholera and polluted water was appreciated from the 1850s although the actual cause of the disease was not yet known. Tipping ashes into rivers like the Irwell, flowing through central Manchester, choked the bed of the stream and increased flood risk. In many European rivers in the C19 and early C20 chemical pollution rather than bacteriological was the main problem. The Rhine suffered increasing chemical pollution from the 1880s with high concentrations of heavy metals in its sediments. These only began to fall after 1975, to the benefit of the fish stocks (McNeill 2000). Throughout the industrial areas of Britain streams which had been rich in fish became almost devoid of life. Concern about river pollution led to the appointment of a Royal Commission in 1865. The resulting Rivers Pollution Prevention Act of 1876 was widely seen as a failure. Rivers boards were established and had some success in the industrial N of England. A Royal Commission on sewage disposal which began work in 1898 was pragmatic in its approach; they did not try to restore rivers to their original condition but laid down reasonable standards for the release of treated effluent which could be widely adopted. British towns began to establish sewage farms in the later C19 (Clapp 1994). Many British rivers remained badly polluted until very recently. Although the release of pollutants from some industrial activities declined new sources such as cooling water from power stations and nitrates from agriculture appeared. The shift towards keeping greater numbers of cattle and pigs has increased the inwash of slurry into streams. When towns began to obtain drinking water from upland reservoirs in the later C19, instead of from rivers they felt free to pollute these even more than previously. One difficulty in Britain was the large number of drainage authorities making concerted action hard: there were 100 of them within 15m of Manchester. Edinburgh continued to discharge raw sewage into 398

pollution | population: animals

the Firth of Forth until the early 1980s. Legislation on river pollution in 1948, 1951 and 1974 had limited effects (Smout 2000).

soil and groundwater pollution Relocation of salt to upper horizons due to over use of irrigation water in semi-arid areas has been a problem since the first hydraulic civilizations of Mesopotamia. Deposition of heavy metals from mining and smelting of lead, copper and other minerals has also been a danger. Often no vegetation will grow on the contaminated land. The use of pesticides can also cause difficulties. In Britain a good deal of pollution of soil and groundwater in the late C19 and early C20 came from gasworks and coke plants. The production of these reduced air pollution in in areas of consumption but shifted it to soil and water pollution in the place of production (Thorsheim 2002).

polyculture The opposite of monoculture; agriculture based on growing a range of crops in small quantities either intermingled or in close proximity to produce a diversity of foodstuffs. This gave a varied diet, increased biodiversity and reduced the danger of starvation through crop failure. In some economies, like post-medieval France, it could also involve keeping several kinds of livestock.

Polynesia See Pacific.

Pompeii and Herculaneum Famous for being buried by volcanic ash in the eruption of AD79. Since the C18 interpretations of the pre-eruption character of the town and the sequence of events at the time of the disaster have been based on the writings of classical authors. Recent archaeological research shows that the eruption did not occur without warning and that many of the wealthier citizens may have been able to leave in time.

population: animals These may fluctuate markedly in cycles of growth and decline. There is a close relationship between numbers of predators and prey with the latter peaking in number a little later than the former. Predators eat prey and 399

population: animals | population, human: global

reduce their numbers. With less prey the predators go hungry and their numbers decline. With fewer predators the survival rate and population of prey increases. With increased numbers of prey the numbers of predators then increase. If population growth of prey species is unchecked by predators there can be significant environmental impacts. The rates at which the population of a species grows can fall into two main categories. R-species produce many offspring but suffer from high mortality rates e.g. fish and frogs, often a feature of the early, unstable phases of a succession. K-species, like birds and mammals, live in more stable environments at their carrying capacity. Fluctuations in population are usually less dramatic than the R-species and the age of first reproduction tends to be older in the K than the R with animals taking more care of their offspring, fewer numbers of offspring per breeding cycle, with a longer lifespan. There is a need to understand population dynamics to regulate hunting or fishing in order to combine protecting the population and harvesting as many as possible. Introduced species without natural predators cau breed rapidly and cause major problems, as with rabbits in Australia.

population, human: global Reliable government censuses are available for some countries from the early C19 but for much of the world only since c.1950. Prior to this various historical sources can be used to provide population estimates, including C17 British hearth taxes, parish registers (Wrigley & Schofield 1981) and Domesday Book. Population estimates in earlier historical and prehistoric times are even more debateable, with wide margins of error, although the overall upward trend at ever-increasing rates of growth is clear. Populations were small and densities low in hunter-gatherer societies although they might over-hunt game and damage forests by burning, as in New Zealand. A substantial population rise occurred in areas which developed agriculture though this also rendered them vulnerable to environmental disasters, including ones induced by human activity e.g. deforestation, soil erosion and disease (due to larger, more permanent settlements, with problems of waste disposal as well as diseases transmitted from livestock). The spread of irrigation caused another step change in regional populations. Population tended to go in cycles on a time-scale of centuries with periods of growth halted and reversed by Malthusian checks but the long term trend was still upwards (Kremer 1993). 400

population, human: global | potato

Estimates of world population Year

Estimated population (millions)

10000BC 6000BC 4000BC 2000BC 1000BC AD1 AD1000 AD1750 AD1800 AD1850 AD1900 AD1950 AD2000 AD2011

1 10 20 35 50 200 310 791 978 1,262 1,650 2,519 6,070 7,000

postglacial climatic optimum (Hypsithermal period) The period of maximum postglacial warmth between 8000 and 4500BP. Coniferous forests in the N hemisphere were 200–300 km further N than today. Summer temperatures in the mid-latitudes of the N hemisphere were 2–3– C warmer than now. The treeline in Britain was 200–300 m above present and in Lappland up to 500 m. In lower latitudes warmer conditions produced stronger summer monsoon circulation causing heavier rainfall in many parts of sub-tropics such as parts of India, the Middle E and the Sahara. There was a major phase of agricultural expansion throughout Europe at this period, largely involving the cultivation of wheat.

potato Solanum tuberosum with origins in the Andes, S America, where it was grown at altitudes at which maize could not survive; the staple food of the Inca empire. First introduced to N Spain in the mid-C16 it had spread into Italy, France and the Low Countries by the end of the C16 and became important in Ireland from the mid-C17: an acre of potatoes could feed a family for a year there, causing sustained, rapid population growth in the C18 and early C19. Its nutritional value was so high that Irish labourers, fed on potatoes, were better nourished that their English counterparts fed on 401

potato | pristine myth

wheaten bread. In C17–18 European wars potatoes were valuable as a ‘hidden’ crop which could not be destroyed as easily as cereals but potatoes did not take off in many areas until the later C18–C19. In 1845–7 a blight caused by a fungus (Phytophthora infestans), probably originating in S America, spread due to cold damp weather. It was brought to Europe from America in the summer of 1845. It caused rapid deterioration of potato plants and spread quickly throughout Europe. In Ireland c.1 million died from famine or associated diseases.

prairies Extensive areas of grassland, often with fertile soils. In America they can be divided into tallgrass in areas with over 50 cm precipitation a year and loamy soils, and shortgrass with 30–40 cm rainfall.

prehistoric The period before surviving written records become available, occurring at markedly varying times in different parts of the world.

Price, Sir Uvedale (1747–1829) Author of Essay on the Picturesque Compared with the Sublime and the Beautiful (1794), one of the protagonists of the theory of the picturesque landscape aesthetic. His ideas developed with those of Richard Payne Knight.

prickly pear (Opuntia spp) Originated in Mexico but was transported to other arid areas such as S Africa and Australia where it has become a vigorous pest, ruining huge areas of pasture. A source of food and of cochineal dye from the insects that feed on it, prickly pear was also planted as a hedge. By 1925 over 24 million ha of Queensland and New South Wales were covered in it.

pristine myth The belief, still widely held, that before Columbus most of the Americas were wilderness, thinly populated, unspoilt virgin forest on which the small Indian population had a limited impact. The idea of the pristine wilderness became part of the American heritage. More detailed examination of the evidence of early human activity in the Americas (and elsewhere) shows


pristine myth | proto-industrialization

this idea to be a fallacy (Callicott & Nelson 1998, Devevan 1998). The concept is also applied, equally mistakenly, to tropical rain forests.

Protestantism From the C16 protestant churches developed a view that God demonstrated his wrath with mankind through environmental disasters such as droughts, locust plagues and epidemics, and his approval through good harvests. The wilderness was seen as a place to test human faith in God, while the Garden of Eden was made by man. Man had domination over the earth but was required to exercise good stewardship. Calvinists contrasted fallen humans with the purity of nature. Before Darwin species were considered to be fixed as God had created them. Thomas Burnet in the C17 and William Buckland in the early C19 considered current landforms to be the result of the biblical Flood or subsequent reworking of these landforms. By this time James Hutton and Charles Lyell were already suggesting that the earth could have arisen from entirely natural processes.

proto-industrialization A term coined by Franklin Mendels in 1972 to explain the distribution of concentrations of rural industry in the immediately pre-industrial period, and to show why some areas went on to industrialise and others did not. Mendels’ work was based on the Pays de Caux in Normandy, an arable area, but the theory applied best to lowland wood pasture or forest areas and uplands. Here holdings were often small, agriculture marginal and landlord controls limited. It was possible for people to move in, squat on a patch of unimproved waste, cultivate it and develop a household economy based on both farming and domestic industry. Textiles were the most popular cottage industry but cuckoo clocks, leather and nail making, even kelp burning, could count as a proto-industry. Workers were originally independent, selling the products directly to travelling merchants who visited local markets. However, population tended to rise due to inmigration and because children could often contribute to the domestic economy, encouraging younger marriages and larger families. Growing population led to progressive subvisivion of holdings, especially in areas practicing partible inheritance. Households became increasingly dependent on industrial earnings with agriculture only an adjunct. Workers in this situation were liable to be exploited by merchant capitalists who gave out raw materials and bought back the finished goods at agreed prices. Workers became tied to these putting out systems and ended up as virtually full-time 403

proto-industrialization | Pueblo Bonito

employees though still working in their own homes. Such people were well prepared for the disciplines of factory work. The theory was less good at explaining why some proto-industrial areas ‘de-industrialised’ with domestic industry dying out rather than proceeding to factory production (Clarkson 1985).

proxy data Data from past environments which can be used to provide an indirect indication of environmental changes, particularly climatic. Documentary sources may also provide proxies for changes in temperature, precipitation etc. A wide range of natural phenomena are climate-dependent and become sealed in stratified deposits which contain built-in proxy measures of past climates (Bradley 1985). Each set of proxy data, and the techniques for extracting climatic data from it, has its own strengths and limitations. The tendency is that the further you go back in time the more broad-brush is the picture of climate that is provided. Examples include pollen analysis, coleoptera, glacier fluctuations, lake sediments, ice cores and, dendrochronlogy and historical records.

Pueblo Bonito See Chaco Canyon.


Q quarrying Undertaken at a range of scales from at least Neolithic times. Neolithic polished stone axes were produced from bands of rock which took a particularly sharp cutting edge (Edmonds 2004). There was even a stone-axe producing industry on remote St Kilda (Fleming 2005) From medieval times in Europe particular types of stone were quarried for prestige projects such as castles, cathedrals and country houses and might be transported considerable distances. Stone was quarried almost everywhere for local use, usually as close to site as possible. Special types of stone, e.g. millstones might be brought over greater distances. After the Middle Ages stone became more commonly used for roofing and walling. Most communities in areas with suitable geology quarried stone on a part-time small-scale basis for local use. Large-scale quarrying in many areas was the product of urban and industrial growth from the C18. In Britain in the C18–19 slate was quarried on a huge scale in N Wales, the Lake District and parts of the W Highlands, while sandstone was widely used for paving and walling stone. In the process whole mountainsides were removed. Increasingly sophisticated techniques were used for cutting, moving and processing stone including inclined planes and tramways. Steam cutting equipment allowed very hard granite to be shaped and polished, a stone which became popular for facing prestige buildings and for structures in exposed situations like harbours, lighthouses and dams. In the C20 the number of quarries decreased but their size grew causing problems of blight in surrounding landscapes. Quarrying sand and gravel aggregates developed rapidly with the use of concrete leaving pitted, flooded environments which have often been converted into wildlife refuges. (See superquarries). 405

Quaternary | Quelccaya ice cap

Quaternary The geological period covering the last 1.6 million years which includes the Pleistocene and the Holocene (Williams et al. 1998).

Quelccaya ice cap

On the Peruvian altiplano at an altitude of 5,600 m and above: at 44 km2 the largest tropical ice cap. An ice core drilled in 1983 provided data on climatic variations over 1,500 years with an accuracy of þ/ 2 years, using dust layers deposited each year during the dry season. The peak of the medieval optimum appears to have been slightly warmer than the last few decades of the C20. The Little Ice Age was identified as a cool phase between c.AD1550 and 1900. The ice cap is currently melting rapidly having lost 20% of its mass since 1963 with a rate of retreat that has been accelerating (Thompson 1992).


R rabbits Modern rabbits are descended from Oryctolagus cuniculus, the European rabbit, which appears to have survived in Spain during the last glaciation. The Romans introduced rabbits to Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean. Rabbits became valued more for their fur as other furry animals like bears and beavers became extinct. By AD1500 they were a pest in some localized areas of N Europe but their worldwide spread only began in the C19. In Britain rabbits were introduced in the early C12, possibly from Spain, for meat and skins. Their first record is in the Scilly Isles. 1176. The C12 rabbit was less robust than modern ones needing supplementary winter feeding and often unable to dig its own burrow. Warreners created mounds of loose sandy soil called pillow mounds by landscape historians because of their shape. Warrens were also called coningers from coney, the old word for an adult rabbit (‘rabbit’ was originally a young animal). Commercial warrens survived in England into the C19 in areas like the Brecklands of E. Anglia and Dartmoor. Rabbits became a real pest from the C18 when they seem to have learned to dig their own burrows and their numbers increased rapidly. The introduction of European rabbits into other parts of the world where they had few natural predators was an environmental disaster. Rabbits were first introduced into Victoria, Australia in 1859. By 1870 they were a widespread pest with populations rising to half a billion by c.1950. The Brazilian disease myxomatosis, deliberately introduced, killed 99% of them in the 1950s but by 1990 numbers were back to 100 million. In New Zealand they were introduced c.1864. In S America they spread from a small population in Chile c.1950 with a frontier moving 15–20 km a year. 407

rabbits | radiocarbon dating

On the other hand rabbits fared poorly in N America and Africa (McNeill 2000 Sheail 1991, Thompson & King 1994, Williamson 2006).

Rackham, Oliver (1939–) Historical ecologist, botanist and landscape historian, formerly Professor of Historical Ecology, University of Cambridge. A specialist on the landscape history of England, particularly trees, woodland and pasture. His History of the Countryside (1986) is a standard work while his more specialized work on trees and woodlands includes Trees and Woodlands in the British Landscape (2000) and Woodlands (2006). He has also undertaken important work on the ecology and landscapes of the Mediterranean.

radiocarbon dating The best known and most widely used radiometric dating technique, one which can be applied to a range of organic material including peat, wood, charcoal, shell and bone. Developed from the mid-1950s, it began to have a major effect on archaeology and palaeoenvironmental studies from the 1960s. It is based on the principle of isotopic decay. Many elements, including carbon, are mixtures of several isotopes with the same chemical properties and atomic numbers but different numbers of neutrons and different atomic masses. Carbon 14 is the least abundant variant of normal carbon 12. It is present in all living organisms but is unstable and decays after the death of the organism at a known rate with a half life of 5,730 years. The level of carbon 14 in a sample, and hence the amount of time which has elapsed since its death, is measured. Radiocarbon dates are statistical estimates rather than absolutes and are given as years BP (before the present which which is conventionally set at AD1950). Dates are given with margins of error expressed as more or less one standard deviation about the mean (ie a 68% probability that the date will fall within this range). The margin of error widens with increasing age so that dates for early prehistory have much greater uncertainty than those for medieval times. Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution the burning of fossil fuels on an increasingly large scale has released a lot of ancient carbon into the atmosphere the absorbtion of which makes recent samples seem older than they actually are. Contamination with old carbon can also occur naturally in areas of limestone bedrock or coal measures. Comparisons of radiocarbon dates against ones established by dendrochronology show discrepancies with the radiocarbon dates coming out too young. However, the variations are systematic worldwide and can be corrected and 408

radiocarbon dating | railways

calibrated. One impact of radiocarbon dating has been to greatly lengthen the span of prehistory. In the 1950s the introduction of agriculture to Britain at the start of the Neolithic was placed at around 2,000BC. Now a date of c4,500BC or even earlier seems more likely.

railways Although canals began to transform the landscape in C18 Britain and C19 Europe railways produced much more widespread and fundamental environmental change throughout the world in the C19 and C20. Originating as mine tramways carrying horse-drawn trucks of ore they developed dramatically in Britain during the second quarter of the C19 with the application of steam locomotion. A key landmark was the Liverpool-Manchester Railway of 1830, the first to link two major cities and designed for passengers as well as freight. Railways brought great environmental changes with their construction, with bridges, tunnels, cuttings and embankments requiring engineering on a heroic scale. They encouraged massive urban development, especially the growth of commuter suburbs around cities like Paris and London in the late C19-early C20. Stations along the lines into major cities acted as foci for new housing and manufacturing developments. In Europe railway networks were laid out with strategic objectives as in France where a radial network of lines linked the capital to the main provincial cities and frontiers. The construction of branch lines in rural areas in late C19 France united regional economies and identities into a national whole, allowing the penetration of national norms into once remote areas and encouraging out-migration from marginal areas, leading to rural depopulation (Clout 1979). In the later C19 railways transformed warfare in the American Civil War and Franco-Prussian War by greatly speeding up the mobilization and transport of troops. Railways across continental interiors in N & S America and the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia opened up huge areas for settlement and agriculture bringing great environmental changes in areas like the American Mid-W and Great Plains. Their construction required huge amounts of timber, causing deforestation and large amounts of steel. Only in the early C20 were some of the most challenging lines in Europe built in Norway and the Alps. The Qinghai-Tibet railway linking Lhasa with China, at 1956 m the highest railway in the world, was completed in 2006. Modern high speed lines in Japan and Europe particularly have substantially cut travel times and offer major competition to internal air flights. 409

rain forests, tropical

rain forests, tropical Some of the most complex, diverse ecosystems on earth. Broadleaf evergreen forests occur in a broad band in the equatorial zone 10– N to 10– S, with abundant water and high temperatures. Moving N or S from the Equator a drier season begins to be evident which causes change in the forests and trees begin to become deciduous. The forest overall is evergreen but the individual trees are deciduous. Trees include the world’s most valuable hardwoods such as teak, mahogany, rosewood, and also rubber trees and wild banana. Under the forest canopy there is little ground cover. The idea of an impenetrable jungle came from the thicker ground vegetation visible along streams and in clearings. The main influence on vegetation growth is soil nutrients. 75% of the nutrients in a tropical rain forest ecosystem are held in the vegetation and only 8% in the soil, so that when the forest is cleared only relatively infertile soils remain. Because the soils are so poor they are not suitable for cultivation as rapid leaching of nutrients occurs with the high rainfall. Deforestation is caused by shifting cultivation becoming more intensive and widespread with population growth by clearing for pasture, cutting for fuel wood, logging, roads and settlements. It was once believed that tropical rain forests experienced little climatic change for millions of years and were the world’s oldest, most stable ecosystems, accounting for their biodiversity. Tropical rain forests were strongly affected by glacial periods. Vegetation dropped 1,500 m in the Andes then began to move up again at the start of the Holocene. Lower down moisture rather than temperature controlled the character of forests. During glaciations aridity in the tropics reduced the area of rain forests to isolated refuges, encouraging the evolution of new species (Roberts 1998). Because physical conditions have remained the same for relatively long periods, animals and plants have developed distinct specializations and interdependence, increasing the fragility of the biome. Rain forest soils were unaffected by Pleistocene glaciations and are mostly in tectonically stable areas and so are ancient, up to 30 m deep, affected by prolonged intensive weathering leading to a lack of nutrients and heavy leaching. As late as the 1950s the rain forests were seen as untouched, pristine. Since then widespread evidence has emerged of burning as early as c.6000BC in the Amazon and E Indies, and c.3000BC in W Africa and Figi. Much of the Amazon rain forest is essentially a cultural artefact, a complex mosaic of different species and ages with favouring of trees which were useful to 410

rain forests, tropical | RAMSAR Convention

humans. Much of today’s tropical rain forests are secondary successions rather than climaxes. Over 40% of rain forests have been cleared since the 1940s. Clearance continues at c.200,000 km2 a year. Under 1% of the Brazilian Amazon had been cleared by 1975 but in 1975–87 the rate of deforestation increased exponentially. About one-quarter of the loss has been due to forestry. Nearly all tropical rain forests were inhabited from early times despite being claimed by many as pristine forests; human impacts were related to clearance for agriculture, increasing erosion and reducing soil fertility. The move from shifting cultivation to permanent agriculture occurred quite early in most areas and more extensively than was once thought. In Africa there must have been much regeneration of forests due to the depopulation caused by the slave trade. Tropical rain forests once covered 14% of the earth’s surface: now it is less than 6%. Since WW2 half of the world’s tropical rain forests have been destroyed (Bonnell & Bruijnzeel 2004). By the 1980s 27 m acres a year were being cleared. Over half the remaining forests are in central and S America. At the current rate of destruction there may be few areas left in 40 years. Because of their richness and biodiversity their removal would bring extinction to a huge number of plant and animal species, many not yet known to science. Total removal or drastic reduction would have serious global impacts in terms of carbon and water storage (Park 1992, Rudel 2000).

raised shorelines Former beaches now above sea or lake levels with beach deposits and sometimes abandoned rock platforms and cliffs. In glaciated areas they are often the result of isostatic uplift; some late glacial shorelines in Scotland are now 40 m above sea level. They form level, well drained land well suited to early cultivation.

Raistrick, Arthur (1896–1991) Geologist, mining engineer field archaeologist and industrial archaeologist who transformed knowledge of the evolution of landscapes and environment in the Yorkshire Pennines (White 2003).

RAMSAR Convention Named after a location in Iran the Convention (1971 – came into force 1975) encouraged the designation and conservation of habitats of 411

RAMSAR Convention | recycling of waste

international importance with the particular aim of protecting bird populations.

rat, black (Rattus rattus) Originating in SE Asia and spreading to Europe by the C6AD or earlier it may have been introduced into Britain by the Romans, it seems to have almost disappeared by the C9, perhaps suffering with the abandonment of Roman towns (Simmons 2001). If this was the case it was later reintroduced as a carrier of bubonic plague.

rat, Pacific (Rattus exulans) Carried deliberately or accidentally on canoes of early settlers of Polynesia. Introduced into New Zealand by the Maori they spread rapidly; the scale of their environmental impact is not clear but is likely to have been considerable.

reaves Boundaries of stone or earth defining large, regular, rectangular enclosures covering extensive areas in SW England, particularly Dartmoor (Fleming 2008). They fade out in the lowlands where they have been obliterated by later agricultural activity. Compartments within the reave systems may contain circular hut foundations. The reave boundaries may once have been topped by hedges. Until Fleming’s work they were assumed to have been medieval field systems but dating evidence indicates that they were Bronze Age, having remained in use for 300–600 years before being abandoned, probably due to soil acidification and a shift to wetter, cooler climatic conditions. The reaves mark the expansion of Bronze Age population into marginal upland environments and may once have been widespread through lowland Britain. The co-axial field systems of E England may have originated as reave systems. They occur as far N as Yorkshire and indicate a level of organization and planning not previously suspected at such an early date. Their counterparts in the N & NW of Britain are cairnfields.

recycling of waste Has been a part of human society from early times. In pre-industrial times a lot of organic waste could be burnt on domestic fires and, as ashes, added to the dunghill and spread on the fields. Thatch impregnated with soot was treated in a similar manner. Omniverous pigs formed a profitable way of 412

recycling of waste | refuge

disposing of organic rubbish. Metal, too valuable to waste, could be re-used. From at least the time of the first farming villages some rubbish was, nevertheless buried in pits in the ground. Waste from the Minoan palace at Knossos was buried in landfills. The first urban landfill site in historical records has been claimed for Athens c.500BC. Towns were able to export a good deal of their waste to fertilize the surrounding fields though in cities like Edinburgh chamber pots were emptied out of tenement windows into the streets with a perfunctory warning of ‘Gardy Loo’ (from the French ‘gardez l’eau’). During the Industrial Revolution, as cities became larger and standards of living rose for at least some sectors of society the amount of waste per head probably increased. There was a thriving trade in scavenging and re-selling people’s reject items whether clothing or kitchenware. This descended into modern times as scrap-metal dealers and rag-andbone men. In England the Public Health Act of 1848 began waste regulation. Some recycling or re-use of materials (e.g. glass bottles) was still undertaken. In the later C19 the incineration of urban waste was widespread but was unpopular with local inhabitants because of the fallout of dust and cinders. In England the regular collection of dustbins began in 1875 and the early C20 was characterized by huge unregulated refuse tips outside major cities, some of them burning continuously. Landfills continued to dominate after WW2 and there was little thought at first for methane release or the pollution of water. The illegal tipping of toxic waste was widespread. From the 1980s recycling has emerged as an alternative to burying or burning rubbish, whether through people bringing self sorted material to collection points or separating out mmaterial for kerbside collection. Recycling emerged from the 1980s as an alternative to burying or burning waste. Efforts have been made to increased the proportion of waste that is recycled in developed countries ranging from c.20–25% in N America to c.65% in Denmark. In China water quality in rivers and groundwater has been decreasing due to discharges of industrial and urban waste as well as agricultural and aquacultural runoff such as pesticides, fertilizers and manure leading to eutrophication. Around 75% of China’s lakes and almost all her coastal seas are polluted. Red tides of plankton blooms produce toxins which poison fish; this occurred once in every five years in the 1960s, now c.100 times each year.

refuge A site in which species continued to survive during glaciations and from which they spread out following deglaciation. 413

reintroduction of species | religion

reintroduction of species The deliberate attempt to re-establish species in an area where they are endangered or have become extinct, using individuals from other areas or reared in captivity. This may be done as part of a rewilding programme. In C19 Britain red squirrels and capercaillies were effectively reintroduced, capercaillies after they had become virtually extinct. More recently whitetailed sea eagles have been returned to the Scottish islands while red kites, confined to a limited area of Wales, have been released and begun breeding in several other parts of Britain. Efforts to reinstate the Great Bustard on Salisbury Plain are continuing while beavers have recently started breeding in Britain once more. Proposals have been made for the return of lynx, wolves and even bears to the Scottish Highlands.

relative chronology A chronology based on a sequence of artefacts or structures in which the relative positions in the chronology is known but not their absolute dates.

religion The key scriptures of most of the world’s great religions suggest that the earth was created by God and that humans are stewards of nature. Unfortunately most religious were only concerned with this peripherally and the teaching of Judaism and, especially, Christianity could be interpreted anthropocentrically as indicating that the earth existed for the benefit of humans who could do what they liked with it. Thus was suggested by White (1967) in a classic article. Judeo-Christian teaching emphasized the idea of humans having domination over the earth, which has been seen as encouraging environmental damage. Christianity has been identified as the most anthropocentric of all religions. The Christian view that humans were different from animals in having a soul and an afterlife and that animals were created for the benefit of humans was widely held in medieval times. In altering nature and extending civilization humans were carrying out God’s plan. The Reformation brought no fundamental changes in attitudes. The concept of humans as stewards of nature, however, has surfaced periodically; e.g. in the work of some Jewish thinkers and St Francis of Assisi. The idea that nature was at its best when shaped by humans underpinned Christianity and was exported round the world by Europeans during colonial expansion.


religion | Repton, Humphry (1752–1815)

However, other religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism have broadly similar approaches though the philosophy of Buddhism is sensitive to the environment and to the welfare of animals and even trees, urging careful use of resources and encouraging people to live in harmony with the environment. Hindus have objected to large-scale schemes like dams on the grounds that they were likely to cause environmental damage. Islamic, Taoist, Hindu and Buddhist views did not give humans such prominence and have had a less aggressive approach to the natural world (Dien 2000).

remote sensing Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about land, sea and atmosphere by sensors located some distance above the object of study. In theory this includes aerial photographs but today it is usually taken to refer to satellite imagery. It has been used since WW1, but especially since the development of satellites in the 1970s, data about global surface features and land cover have been collected using remote sensing imagery. Technology has moved on from black and white photographic prints to the measurement of a wide range of reflected radiation which can be manipulated with computer software. The quality, definition and frequency of satellite coverage have increased markedly. Once coverage was reserved for the military. Now, with websites like Google Earth, remotely sensed images are widely accessible. The first images of the earth from space came from the Apollo moon missions of the late 1960s. The Landsat satellites have been recording land use since 1972. The interpretation of remotely sensed images is not straightforward. Differences between images of the same area at different periods may be due to environmental change or variations in measurement techniques. Radiation from land cover is averaged out for pixels. For Landsat M99 these are 79 · 79 m but there is overlap between them. Atmospheric conditions may affect images. Remote sensing can show a range of large-scale land cover changes, including desertification, loss of tropical rain forests and changing Arctic sea ice limits (Roberts 1989).

Repton, Humphry (1752–1815) English landscape gardener whose work in the late C18/early C19 reflected a reaction against the informality of Launcelot (‘Capability’) 415

Repton, Humphry (1752–1815) | reservoirs

Brown, who had grassland coming right up to the walls of country mansions, in favour of a more formal arrangement with a distinct separation of garden and park (Carter et al. 1983, Daniels 1999, Williamson 1995).

reservoirs A natural or artificial lake which stores water for domestic use, energy generation, irrigation, industrial use or which regulates streamflow downstream. The earliest known date from c.5000BP in Arabia. Substantial ones were constructed by the Romans as part of city water supply schemes. Reservoir construction on a huge scale came with rapid urbanization in C19 Britain, then in Europe, the USA and more widely. In Britain Victorian dam builders and reservoir engineers are less well known than railway engineers but their achievement was considerable (Smout 2000). J F La Trobe Bateman, Thomas Hawksley, James Leslie, and George Leather and their firms built 88 dams in Britain large enough to be listed on the International Register of Large Dams. The 160 km long tunnel and aqueduct between the Thirlmere reservoir in the Lake District and Manchester was a major engineering feat. The Thirlmere debate was the first time that a parliamentary committee had considered the landscape impacts of a major engineering project, foreshadowing modern public inquiries. Plans were approved in 1874 but construction did not start until 1890 due to a trade slump. When it was completed in 1894 its impact was one factor leading Hardwicke Rawnsley to help found the National Trust (Smout 2000). Other schemes were less successful. George Leather’s Bilberry Dam near Huddersfield burst in 1852 killing 81. His nephew’s Dale Dike Dam near Sheffield failed in 1864 drowning nearly 250. The Loch Katrine scheme to bring water from the edge of the Scottish Highlands 56 km to Glasgow was opened in 1860 and revamped in 1895. Further N in the Highlands major reservoirs were built in the early C20 in association with HEP schemes. The Blackwater Dam above Kinlochleven, opened in 1909, was 1 km across and 30 m high. Many reservoirs around industrial cities were designed to provide compensation water to local streams from which it was being abstracted. Modern reservoirs associated with power generation and the supply of irrigation water may flood large areas; Lake Nasser in Egypt covers 6,000 km2 and forced the removal and re-erection of the temple of Abu Simbel. The damage caused by the Three Gorges Dam was even greater. 416

reservoirs | rewilding

resilience The ability of individuals and communities to adapt to and cope with environmental hazards in the shorter term and with longer-term environmental change. Studies of communities previously thought to have a high degree of vulnerability to environmental change, such as the inhabitants of the pre-Improvement Scottish Highlands, have been shown to have had a range of buffering mechanisms to help them survive difficult conditions (Dodgshon 2005).

return period The average time period between two successive natural events such as floods. In a river catchment relatively little sediment will be transported when streams are at normal levels. Every year streamflow will be higher and erosion and transportation of sediment greater at some seasons, as shown by the muddy colour of the water. However, the cumulative effect of such annual events is still modest even in the long term. What can really transform a river valley is the rare, extremely severe flood, often with a very localized distribution, which may have an average return period of once in 200, 500 or even 1,000 years or more (Ballantyne & Whittington 1999, Curry 2000). Failure to plan for the possible occurrence of such events can have catastrophic consequences, e.g. in relation to dam construction. Whether due to a severe thunderstorm, rapid snowmelt or other causes such floods can generate more erosion, transport more material and cause more damage in an hour or two than normal year-to-year processes acting over centuries. Recent, well-publicized examples of this were the floods at Boscastle in N Cornwall in 2004 and Cockermouth, Cumbria in 2009.

rewilding A concept developed in the 1990s. The process of returning environments to a more natural state by reducing or removing management and reintroducing species which had been made extinct locally or severely depleted. This can involve reducing grazing levels or taking away livestock entirely and letting the land revert to woodland. It may also involve managing an ecosystem at a particular stage of development, e.g. to maximize the area of reed beds to encourage birds like bitterns by preventing the spread of carr woodland. The reintroduction of animals may involve large herbivores to maintain vegetation in a particular state, and predators to control herbivore numbers. It may involve habitat 417

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management such as maintaining a particular vegetation type (e.g. heather moorland), blocking drainage to encourage the recovery of blanket bog, or even just fencing off areas of woodland to encourage regeneration by excluding grazing animals. Rewilding may be part of landscape-scale restoration. In Britain and parts of Europe there have been calls to reintroduce lynx, wolves, bears and other predators. A key issue is whether the former habitats can be genuinely rewilded considering the changes they have already undergone due to human activity. The Wild Ennerdale project in the English Lake District is often cited as an example of rewilding though it is not so described by its promoting organizations because it involves continued livestock farming and timber extraction. It aims to reduce the visual and environmental impact of early C20 conifer planting (Browning & Yanik 2004, Taylor 2005). The ongoing restoration of more extensive fenland habitats around Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire is a lowland example on a large scale.

Rhine 1,250 km long, a major trade route since Roman times. In 1818 the Congress of Vienna established the Rhine Commission to represent the riparian states in creating a major shipping route, to remove navigational hazards and to promote flood control. Centuries of modification and straightening have increased the flood risk for the middle and lower Rhine. Major industrial developments occurred from the mid-C19, especially iron, steel and chemical manufacture, causing serious pollution. In the early C20 HEP dams on the borders between Germany, France and Switzerland spread industry further upstream. Pollution of the river remained serious into the 1970s though water quality has since improved. The 1980s and 1990s saw a number of major floods the effects of which were exacerbated by land reclamation (Cioc 2002).

rice Oryza sativa – the most important grain, a staple of half the global population. It is the only major cereal crop which can grow in standing water and thus well adapted to monsoon flooding. Rice was first domesticated in a zone in Assam, N Burma, N Thailand, SW China (Lu et al. 2002) and N Vietnam c.5000BC, probably in a number of different places. Dry or hill rice cultivation developed from c.5000BC in SE Asia. From the 2nd million BC wet rice cultivation developed in its SE Asian heartland and over the next 3,000 years spread to S China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, 418

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India, Java and Sri Lanka (c.400BC). It reached Egypt c.375BC and Sicily in Roman times. Established in Spain by the Arabs it was being exported from Valencia to Holland by the C14. It reached N Italy in the C15AD then spread to Brazil, SE USA finally reaching Hawaii in 1853. Wet rice cultivation reached China c.2150–2000BC from India. From China it spread to Tibet, Indonesia and Japan by c.AD1. Paddy rice is submerged in 100–150 mm of slow-moving water for three-quarters of the growing season in fields on flat lands or sometimes terraces. Heavy manuring with dung and human waste is undertaken. Paddies may also provide fish and crustaceans. The real achievement of paddy rice cultivation was that –two or three crops a year were possible. Rice cultivation represents a major alteration of the landscape with water systems and embankments. Rice accounts for 80–90% of the diet of millions today; it covers a smaller area than wheat but produces a higher yield. 95% of production is still in the Far E. The most important trade before the C18 was S to N within China via the Imperial Canal for the imperial court and army. Paddy rice cultivation accounts for 75% of production, dryland c.10% and deep water c.15%. Wet rice cultivation had a dramatic impact on the environment.

Richter Scale Developed in 1935 by Charles F. Richter, California Institute of Technology, to measure the severity of earthquakes. Ranging from 1 to 9.9, an increase from one whole number to the next on the scale represents a tenfold rise in earthquake severity. An earthquake recording 7.0 on the scale would be considered a major one and 9.0 an unusually severe one. See earthquakes.

ridge and furrow Earthworks created by cultivation with a heavy plough (though some similar features like lazy beds and prehistoric cord rigs may relate to hand cultivation). Believed to have been produced by the process of ploughing land in strips with a fixed mouldboard heavy plough. Ridge and furrow provided a way of demarcating strips in open fields and also drained the soil, water running from the ridges into the furrows and then into larger field drains. In theory ridge and furrow also helped to minimize risks for medieval farmers: in a dry summer the crops in the furrows would do well; in a wet year the crops on the ridges would thrive. Medieval ridge and furrow tended to be broad, high-backed and often with a reverse-S shaped curve caused, supposedly, by the ploughman starting to edge his team round before the end of the furrow was reached, 419

ridge and furrow | ritual sites, prehistoric

to make it easier to turn. Ridge and furrow from the period of improvement in the later C18 and early C19 was straighter, narrower and lower. It died out in the 1840s as undersoil drainage spread. On slopes ridge and furrow can sometimes be seen to shade into strip lynchets as the ground steepens. The distribution of ridge and furrow in the past depended on soils, being more prominent on clays than lighter soils which had better natural drainage. Complex typologies of ridge and furrow relating to different phases of cultivation have been worked out for different regions.

rinderpest A contagious viral disease affecting cattle, often known as ‘cattle plague’ or in the past ‘murrain’. Its origins are unclear but it is thought to have existed in Roman times. It was widespread in Europe, Asia and Africa but did not occur in the Americas, Australia or New Zealand. Europe was especially badly affected in the C18 with major outbreaks in 1709–20, 1742–60 and 1768–86. Mortality was often over 90% and Europe is thought to have lost 200 million animals during the C18, though quarantining of animals had some effect in lowering mortality. In 1889 the Italian army, campaigning in Somalia, imported cattle carrying the rinderpest virus which was new to Africa and highly contagious. Millions of cattle died and millions more wild buffalo, antelope and giraffe. Famine, violence and migration followed and two-thirds of the Masai died (Spinage 2003). The disease does not directly affect humans. A vaccine was developed in 1957. It was reported to have been eradicated worldwide in 2010.

Rio Earth Summit 1992 Held to express the concern of developing countries for global environmental problems and to show how they could help less developed nations to avoid the same mistakes: the summit focused attention on global warming. Over 160 nations signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

ritual sites, prehistoric In the past archaeologists have used the term ‘ritual’ as a catch-all for sites not easily classified into other categories. The business of reconstructing prehistoric beliefs is, necessarily, speculative and open to a wide range of 420

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interpretations. Studies of the distribution of ritual monuments in relation to environmental variables such as soil quality have