The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth

St. Martin’s. Feb. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781250270238. $29.99. NAT HIST
In this work, Rawlence (City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp; Radio Congo) travels the treeline, stopping in northern Scotland, Norway, Siberia, Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland, describing along the way the tree species (yew, pine, birch, larch, spruce, poplar, ash) that are indigenous to extreme climates. He examines the treeline’s steady northward advance as the planet warms, and its implications for life on earth. In accessible and inviting writing, Rawlence demonstrates that the lives of trees impact even sea creatures and ocean currents; he stresses how all lifeforms are connected. His travels also introduce scientists (such as the acclaimed Diana Beresford-Kroeger) and non-scientist Indigenous peoples who study and try to preserve the ecosystems within which these trees thrive. His writing vividly brings readers inside the natural boreal forest settings he visits. In an eloquent epilogue, Rawlence finds that hope comes from recognizing that although much is unknown and mysterious about nature, all people must be stewards of the Earth, making an impact with every personal choice; all evolution is co-evolution, he writes. The book includes a glossary of trees.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers interested in nature, conservation, and climate change.
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