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Distributed for Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

On the Forests of Tropical Asia

Lest the Memory Fade

Thousands of years ago, Asia was filled with forests that connected ecosystems from the foot of the Himalayas to the shores of the Pacific. Today, more than half of these woodlands are gone, mostly due to the demands of commerce and industry. And while conservation efforts are underway, more parcels disappear every year. On the Forests of Tropical Asia is a timely record of current forests and a much-needed explanation of the role humans played in the devastation and redevelopment of these forests.
On the Forests of Tropical Asia is the first book to describe the forests of the entire tropical Asian region, from Sind to New Guinea. It opens with chapters on physical geography and geological history and then moves on to address forest and tree structure and dynamics, floristics, and symbiotic organisms, as well as genetics, evolutionary history, species diversity, and human impact. A final chapter covers future policy and practice options for saving what remains. Hundreds of full-color illustrations serve as a lasting testimony to the diverse forests. Ashton combines existing research with his own experience and collaborations, creating a broad, comprehensive understanding of forest variation. By presenting a clear picture of where the forests stand today, he offers a framework for future research, policy, and conservation.

670 pages | 400 color plates, 200 diagrams | 9 1/2 x 11 | © 2014

Biological Sciences: Botany

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Award of Excellence in Botany | Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries

Highly Commended

Postgraduate Textbook Prize | Royal Society of Biology

"This is a heavyweight treatise that details the major currents of research on Asian tropical forests, focusing on the trees and their community formations. . . . It is packed with data, analyses, summaries, and italicized key questions for future research, with the look of a major scientific treatment that will be an essential reference for those who study tropical forests."

Plant Science Bulletin

"Succeeds in providing a region‐wide synthesis of forest ecology, while addressing cutting‐edge scientific questions and providing fascinating insight into the life of a pioneering tropical scientist. . . . A monumental work that effectively summarizes Ashton's lifetime of research in Tropical Asia and provides a uniquely holistic view of a diverse region. For any tropical biologist on any continent, the book will provide an invaluable reference, a fascinating history, and a wellspring for novel ideas."


“Ashton’s seminal work is a masterpiece of scientific scholarship in an area that is of tremendous importance for the biosphere. This will be the book that researchers in the field will gravitate towards to gain an insight into the complexities of tropical Asian forest ecosystems. With its beautiful illustrations, On the Forests of Tropical Asia looks like a coffee table book, but it has a depth of scholarship and commitment that shows one man’s life’s work in this fascinating field.”


Table of Contents

Prologue: Structure and Purpose of this Book
Chapter 1: Tropical Asia as a special case: the physical environment
Chapter 2: Lowland forest form and function: reconciling light and drought
     Part I: Lowland forests in an aseasonal climate
     Part II: Forests of the seasonal tropics
Chapter 3: Patterns of species composition in Asian tropical lowland forests
     Part I: Forests of the aseasonal regions
     Part II: Seasonal forests: the influence of seasonality in rainfall and temperature overlays that of geology and soil
Chapter 4: The mountain forests: abode of clouds
Chapter 5: Trees and their mobile links: third parties that mediate natural selection
Chapter 6: The palimpsest of history as reflected in geographical distributions
Chapter 7: Forest and tree taxon diversity: why does it vary, and how is it maintained?
Chapter 8: People and the forest: a tightly interwoven tapestry has frayed
Chapter 9: The future: can we retain forest options profitably?
Scientific and common names
Place names

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