The Treeline

The Treeline

The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth

Summary

* LONGLISTED FOR THE JAMES CROPPER WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2022 *
* A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK *

'The very treeline is on the move: a devastating image. This book is an evocative, wise and unflinching exploration of what it will mean for humanity.' Jay Griffiths

The Arctic treeline is the frontline of climate change, where the trees have been creeping towards the pole for fifty years already. These vast swathes of forests, which encircle the north of the globe in an almost unbroken green ring, comprise the world's second largest biome.

Scientists are only just beginning to understand the astonishing significance of these northern forests for all life on Earth. Six tree species - Scots pine, birch, larch, spruce, poplar and rowan - form the central protagonists of Ben Rawlence's story. In Scotland, northern Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland, he discovers what these trees and the people who live and work alongside them have to tell us about the past, present and future of our planet.

At the treeline, Rawlence witnesses the accelerating impact of climate change and the devastating legacies of colonialism and capitalism. But he also finds reasons for hope. Humans are creatures of the forest; we have always evolved with trees. The Treeline asks us where our co-evolution might take us next. Deeply researched and beautifully written, The Treeline is a spellbinding blend of nature, travel and science writing, underpinned by an urgent environmental message.

Reviews

  • Rawlence is a fine ecologist and an excellent writer with the rare ability both to tell an absorbing tale and to convey the subtleties of science. The Treeline is timely, salutary and eminently readable. Excellent.
    Colin Tudge, Resurgence & Ecology

About the author

Ben Rawlence

Ben Rawlence is the author of City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp and Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest War. Rawlence has written for the Guardian, London Review of Books, New York Times, New York Times Book Review, New Yorker and many other publications. He lives in Wales and is the founder and director of Black Mountains College, an institution dedicated to preparing people for the changes to come.
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