Systems in society and nature

28th March 1997 at 00:00
A Geography of the European Union. A Regional and Economic Perspective By Garrett Nagle and Kris Spencer Oxford University Press Pounds 12

Managing Wilderness Regions By John Chaffey Hodder Stoughton Pounds 9.99

Landform Systems By Victoria Bishop and Robert Prosser HarperCollins Pounds 15.75

A Geography of the European Union is an outstandingly factual, up-to-date and well-presented treatment of a subject which is now central to all geography courses.

Its underlying theme is core: periphery tensions and contrasts within Europe; two photographs at the beginning of the book, taken in London and western Ireland, spell out this theme to all thoughtful readers of landscape.

Inevitably, most of the book deals with matters relating to the core: the decline of old industries and the emergence of new; problems inherent in developing affordable and fair agricultural and fisheries support and control policies for a diverse set of member states; the impact of industrial subsidies; the situation of the EU as a major player in an increasingly global, transnational economic system.

The book is magnificently illustrated, mainly with maps and diagrams. Every A-level teacher of geography should read it.

Managing Wilderness Regions is an excellent account for A-level students of the distribution, characteristics and relative security of the world's major areas so far almost untouched by human actions.

The world's wildscapes are viewed both as places for spiritual refreshment and as locations for scientific observations and experiments necessary to preserve the well-being of Earth and its inhabitants.

The book begins by defining "wilderness". It goes on to analyse the many and varied interactions between indigenous peoples, incomers and natural ecosystems. Strategies for sustainability and renewal are discussed in the face of threats from global tourism, resource exploitation and international politics. Case studies are drawn from all the continents. Aids to student learning are provided in the form of key ideas, essay titles, shorter questions and occasional decision-making exercises.

Landform Systems is simply a very good A-level physical geography text. It is eminently readable and beautifully illustrated, with a lavish use of diagrams and colour photographs and elegant page layouts. A-level students of a wide range of ability and background experience should be inspired to go out and look at landscapes.

The book adopts a "system" approach, explained in chapter one, which students should read first. Subsequent chapters may be taken in any logical order. The book deals with rivers and the landforms they produce; coastal processes and forms; mechanisms and forms to be found in glaciated and edge-of-ice areas; and arid landscapes.

The human responses to and management of natural processes are described where appropriate. There are abundant examples and some longer case studies. In each chapter, learning is focused by the insertion of questions and summaries. There are sensible references, a glossary and an index.

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