New book explores the mysteries of our forests

MONTPELIER — Have you ever wondered how trees “come back to life” in spring? Why paper birches are so white? Or which trees make the best firewood? A new book by Vermont’s Commissioner of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, Michael Snyder answers these questions and many others. “Woods Whys: An Exploration of Forests and Forestry” is a collection of essays that aims to teach people more about trees, forests, and forest management — and by doing so, to help them become more connected to the woods around them.
“My goal in writing this book was to share my love of the woods with others,” says Snyder. “Each essay begins with a question, and while I always tried to answer that question through facts and science, it was important to me to leave room for the wonder and enduring mysteries of forests, too.”
The essays in “Woods Whys” originally appeared in a column Snyder wrote for many years in “Northern Woodlands” magazine, and the collection is written for a general audience. The book is designed to be read cover-to-cover or one article at a time, depending on what the reader is curious about. It draws on Snyder’s decades of professional forestry experience, including years spent as a county forester walking through woods with Vermont landowners.
“Condensing complex forest science into topics that are accessible, fun, and easy-to-understand is challenging, and it’s what makes ‘Woods Whys’ such a great resource,” says Tony D’Amato, professor and director of the forestry program at the University of Vermont. “This book helps connect everyone to the woods, whether they’re novices or forestry professionals.”

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