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Fruitless Trees

For the most part, Brazil's forests were not harvested, but annihilated, and relatively little was extracted for the benefit of Brazilians, a tragedy perhaps worse than deforestation alone. Fruitless Trees aims to make sense of what at first glance appears to be the senseless destruction of Brazil's incomparable timber. The forests have always been Brazil s most striking natural resource, and the Portuguese colonists anticipated enormous returns from its harvest, since Brazilian timber was more abundant and superior in quality to anything known in Europe, North America, or even Portugal s East Indian possessions. This work investigates the relationship between Portugal s colonial forest policies and the successes of the colonial venture, showing how forest law shaped the fortunes of the timber sector and promoted or obstructed colonial development. Timber was the steel, oil, coal, and plastic of the early modern period, and the effectiveness of its extraction affected nearly every branch of the colonial economy.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The colonial landscape: timber, forests, and soils 2. Forest policy with Portuguese roots 3. Brazil's timber in the Atlantic basin 4. The tropical woodsman 5. Ax, ox, and sawmill: techniques and technology 6. Cabotage and transatlantic shipping 7. Shipbuilding and tropical timber Appendixes Notes Bibliography Index.

About the Author

Shawn William Miller is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University.


"Miller's fascinating and original comparative study of the colonial Brazilian timber industry ... is an important contribution to the almost virgin field of Brazilian environmental history in the colonial period." - Luso-Brazilian Review "[An] impressive collection of original documents and economic sources..." - Environmental History

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