Restoring Forests in Times of Contagion

Papers to Celebrate John Evelyn on the Occasion of his 400th Birthday

Edited by John Dargavel and Ben Wilkie

John Evelyn (1620–1706) holding Sylva, Or a Discourse of Forest Trees, a book that marks the start of modern forest science. Godfrey Kneller, 1689. Source: The Royal Society, image RS-9268.

John Evelyn was appalled by the state of England’s forests and wrote Sylva or a Discourse of Forest Trees in 1664 as textbook for restoring them. It is a marker in the start of scientific forestry.

In the Southern Hemisphere, our forests and landscapes carry a different history. They too need restoration.

Our forests evolved as Gondwana formed and broke over eons. Sixty millennia ago, Aboriginal people came; a dozen centuries ago, Māori came. Both changed and managed their forests: both are deeply people of their country, tāngata whenua. We salute them.

Two centuries ago, Europeans colonised the lands and changed the forests differently. A century ago, they started to manage some scientifically. Half a century or so ago, the pace of change in whole system of the world accelerated. Now, our forests face ravaging fires and a changing climate.

Some matters cross centuries and continents. Here as we celebrate John Evelyn’s life, we examine our endeavours to restore the forests.

John Dargavel and Phillippe Cuthbertson planting a Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) in the National Arboretum Canberra, 2018. How will trees respond to climate change? The experiment monitors how different species respond to changes in moisture every 15 minutes. Photo: Yulia Cuthbertson.



I. Evelyn and Sylva

  1. John Dargavel – A Salute to John Evelyn
  2. Gabriel Hemery – The Future Sylva
  3. Michael Roche – John Evelyn’s Sylva in New Zealand

II. Gardens

4. Sybil Jack – Evelyn’s Garden of Paradise
5. André Brett – ‘Some of the Choicest Specimens of Plant Life’: Tree-Planting by Government Railways in Australasia pre-WWI
6. Alison Miller – Death of a Tree, Life of a Tree

III. Restoration

7. Ben Wilkie – The Deforestation and Reforestation of Victorian Volcanoes
8. David Freudenberger and Ian Rayner – Replanting Woodlands in Australia – A Volunteer Rich Process
9. Alexandra Vlachos and Keith Bradby – Accelerating Restorative Change in South Western Australia
10. Libby Robin – On the Verge of Isolation
11. Fiona Firth – Trees on Farms: Tree-planters in the Bega Valley

IV. Plantations and Policy

12. John Taylor and Jane Lennon – Sylva Anew: A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in the Bottle Creek Estate
13. Anton Sveding – ‘Plant trees and grow money’: Promoting Farm Forestry in New Zealand in the 1920s
14. John Dargavel – Are Plantations the Answer?


A Publication History of John Evelyn’s Sylva