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The Firth of Forth

Natural History
Publication Date
04 October 2012
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited
b/w throughout

The Firth of Forth

An Environmental History
by Christopher Smout and Mairi Stewart - Find out more about the author

'A fascinating study with a broad, judicious sweep and tone' – Reviews in History

‘A very absorbing read: every estuary should have one!’ – Scottish Wildlife Magazine

The Firth of Forth combines a rich wildlife with a history of long and intense human activity around its shores and in its waters. At one time, herring, cod and haddock, with many other edible fish, were vastly more numerous, but seals and seabirds much rarer than they are now. Once, the rivers running into the Firth were so polluted that people could set fire to some of the burns; now the water is often as pure as it has ever been since records began. Illustrated with black-and-white and colour photographs, this is a capitivating exploration into the life of the Firth of Forth which considers a wide range of questions. How have people affected and exploited the wildlife, and how in turn has it determined the lives of people? What changes to the biodiversity of the Firth have taken place as a result of human interference? Why has pollution been easier to control than over-fishing? What were the unintended consequences to the natural heritage both of pollution and of cleaning-up, and what role has conservation had in bringing about changes?

Christopher Smout is Historiographer Royal in Scotland and Emeritus Professor of Scottish History at the University of St Andrews. He has written widely on Scottish economic, social and demographic history, and since the mid 1990s has been much concerned with environmental history. ‘He was the first deputy chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage in the 1990s’.

Mairi Stewart is an environmental historian specialising in Scottish woodland history. She joined the staff of the UHI Centre for History in 2005 and is currently working on a four-year research project dealing with the social history of twentieth-century Scottish forestry.

‘Painstakingly researched and deeply engrossing’ – Scotsman