The Overstory Book (2nd Edition)

overstory bookCultivating Connections with Trees

by Craig R. Elevitch (editor)

Whether in a small backyard or a larger farm or forest, trees are vital to the web of life. Protecting and planting trees can restore wildlife habitat, heal degraded land, conserve soil, protect watersheds, diversify farm or garden products, beautify landscapes, and enhance the economic and ecological viability of land use systems. Careful planning and sound information is needed to reach these goals.

The Overstory Book distills essential information about working with trees into 134 short, easy-to-read, single-subject chapters. Each chapter shares key concepts and useful information, so readers can get back to planting and protecting more trees, gardens, and forests, more effectively.

  • Discover time-tested agricultural and conservation techniques from indigenous and traditional peoples
  • Work with beneficial microorganisms, from mycorrhizal fungi to nitrogen-fixing bacteria and more
  • Create abundance with fruit trees, timber trees, vine crops, vegetables, mushrooms, and more
  • Form alliances with animals, from wildlife, birds, and insects to integrated, free-range livestock
  • Design effective tree-based windbreaks, noise barriers, live fences, and erosion buffers
  • Understand how to grow or obtain the highest quality seeds, seedlings, and plant materials
  • Restore fertility, productivity, and biodiversity with trees
  • Work with multipurpose plants including trees, palms, bamboos, and more
  • Market products effectively to improve economic returns sustainably
  • Locate helpful internet sites, organizations, people, and publications
  • And much more!

Back in print! Purchase from

This second edition is fully revised and greatly expanded, now with an additional 55 chapters and over 150 photographs.
Contains the first six years of The Overstory e-journal.

  • Text and tables formatted for easy reading
  • Indexed
  • Over 150 photographs
  • Organized by topic
  • Quality paperback book
  • Updated author information


Note to the Reader
Contributing Authors and Organizations

Learning from Traditional Knowledge

Tropical Homegardens
Introduction to Indigenous Knowledge
Cultural Landscapes
Forest Islands {Kayapo Example)
Complex Agroforests
Trees. Forests and Sacred Groves
Biodiversity and Protected Areas
Traditional Pacific Island Agroforestry Systems
Protecting and Expanding Traditional Agroforests
Wild Foods In Agricultural Systems
Underutilized Indigenous Fruit Trees
Forest Biodiversity

Small and Unseen Allies

The Soil Foodweb: It's Role in Ecosystem Health
Mycorrhizas: Producing and Applying Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Inoculum
The Rule of Mushrooms in Nature
Biological Nitrogen Fixation
The Rhizosphere

Animal Assistants

Agroforestry and Biological Diversity
Bees and Agroforestry
Pest Prevention through Ecological Design
Animals in Agroforestry
Productivity of Animals in Agroforestry Systems
Fodder Tree Establishment
Tropical Forage Tree Legumes
Animal Tractor Systems

Protecting Land from Wind, Erosion, Intruders and Noise

Soil and Water Conservation
Buffers: Common Sense Conservation
Vegetative Erosion Barriers
Windbreak Design
Multipurpose Windbreaks
Animal Shelter
Live Fences
Trees as Noise Buffers
Living Snow Fences

Saving Water, Soil, and Fertility

Five Fertility Principles
Tropical Green Manures/Cover Crops
Carbon Sequestration: Storing Carbon in Soils and Vegetation
Forests and Water
Effects of Trees on Soils
Greywater for Trees and Landscape

Restoring Land

Tropical Forest Conservation
Foster Ecosystems
Pioneering Difficult Sites
Reforestation of Degraded Lands
Improved Fallow
Direct Seeding
Land Husbandry
Land Management: Caring for Resources

Growing Trees for Forestry

Farm Forestry
Integrating Forestry into Farms
Choosing Species for Timber Production and Multiple Benefits
Coppice-with-Standards: New Forestry with Ancient Roots
Optimizing Commercial Timber Potential from Farm Forestry
Farm Forestry Extension

More than Trees: Understory and Nontimber Forest Products

Understory: A Unique Niche for Valuable Crops
Integrating Understory and Tree Crops
Sequential Planting
Nontimber Forest Products: An Introduction
Nontimber Forest Products Enterprises
Nontimber Forest Products (Temperate)
Between Wildcrafting and Monocultures: Agroforestry Options
Medicinal and aromatic plants in agroforestry systems
The Hidden Bounty of the Urban Forest
Urban Forestry

Useful Species

Multipurpose Palms
Perennial Leaf Vegetables
Bamboos in Agroforestry
Mushrooms in Agroforestry
Nitrogen Fixing Trees
Multipurpose Trees
Fast Food (Part I)
Fast Food (Part 2)

A Great Start

Microenvironments (Part 1)
Microenvironments (Part 2)
Patchiness: Living in the Real World
Weeds as a Resource
Getting Started: Diversity of Species
Sheet Mulch: Greater Plant and Soil Health with Less Work
Start Small and expand on Successes
Gelling Started in Farm Forestry

Seeds, Seedlings, and Tree Basics

Selected Tree Seed
Guidelines for Seed Production of Agroforestry Trees
Seed Source Establishment and Management
Seed Sources
Seed Collection
Invasive Woody Plants
Tree Domestication
Genetic Conservation of Tropical Trees
Trees for Urban Planting: Diversity, Uniformity, and Common Sense
Essentials of Good Planting Stock
Twelve Tree Myths
Some Tree Basics
How Trees Survive
Trees and Their Energy Transactions
Tree Defenses

Designing with Nature

Integrated Systems Approach
Designing Resource Systems
Observe and Interact
Revegetation Planning for Farm Forestry
Agroecology: principles and strategies

Improving Income

Value-Added Products
The Full Extent of Value Adding: It Starts with Forest Management
Value-Added Enterprises for Small-Scale Farmers
Marketing Principles
Niche Markets
Direct Marketing

Human Connections

Native Intelligence
Human Health and Agroecosystems
Sustaining Physical Health
Cultivating Connections with Other Farmers
Creating an Internship
Giving back: making research results relevant to local groups and conservation
The Contribution of Forestry to Food Security

Learning More (Resources)

The Agroforester's Library
Glossary for Agroforestry Practices

General Index

Botanical Names Index

Publisher Notes

The Overstory is distributed by Agroforestry Net, Inc., P.O. Box 428, Holualoa, Hawaii 96725 USA;

Agroforestry Net, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization.

Editor: Craig Elevitch

Read previous editions in The Overstory eJournal.

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This publication is Copyright 1997-2014 Permanent Agriculture Resources. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. For conditions of use please contact or write to Agroforestry Net, Inc. at the address above.

This newsletter is designed to provide agricultural information, but is sent with the understanding that the editors and publishers are not engaged in rendering consultation. If expert assistance is required, the services of a professional should be sought.

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Additonal Information

Availability: Softcover: $34.95 Ships from (eligible for Super Saver shipping).
Hardcover - $64.95 (sold out)

Release date: August 2004
Publisher: Permanent Agriculture Resources
ISBN: 0-9702544-3-1
Size: 7.25" X 10.25" (18.4 X 26 cm)
Pages: 548