The Journeys of Trees: A Story about Forests, People, and the Future

Norton. Jul. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781324001607. $26.95. NAT HIST
The first book by science reporter St. George examines the lives of five iconic tree species: giant sequoia, ash, black spruce, Florida torreya, and Monterey pine. Through these trees, we meet the ecologists, conservationists, and industry workers who have vested interests in their futures. St. George examines trees through the lens of biogeography, which investigates the link between a species’s habitat requirements and its geographical location. Scientists posit that climate change affects some species’ abilities to thrive at current locations. A warming planet means species must move poleward or upslope to survive. The author interviews those who believe humans should intervene to plant trees in habitats where they are best suited along with those who are working on genetic modification to ensure the long-term health and fitness of trees. He traverses the United States and Canada, and journeys to New Zealand, in order to examine the fossil record and provide complementary research to support the different contentions surrounding these imperiled tree species.
VERDICT A beautiful elegy to trees and the people working to preserve them. This compelling read shows how climate change impacts the natural ranges of tree species and how scientists are creating strategies to mitigate this influence.

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