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


The Treeline is a spellbinding blend of nature, travel and science writing, deeply researched and beautifully written, underpinned by an urgent environmental message. The Arctic Treeline – the northern limit of the boreal forest that encircles the globe in an almost unbroken green ring – is the second largest biome on our planet. At this little-known frontline of climate change, the trees have been creeping towards the pole for fifty years already. Six of the tree species that populate these forests (Larch, Spruce, Mountain Ash, Downy Birch, Balsam Poplar and Scots Pine) 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. Scientists are only just beginning to understand the astonishing significance of these forests for all life on Earth. 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.

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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 * [A] lyrical and passionate book... The Treeline is a sobering, powerful account of how trees might just save the world, as long as we are sensible enough to let them. -- Kathryn Hughes * Mail on Sunday * [An] urgent investigation into the Arctic treeline... a meticulously researched and compellingly presented read. -- Hannah Beckerman * Observer * Our trees are on the move but we have no place left to go. Ben Rawlence's The Treeline is a moving, thoughtful, deeply reported elegy for our vanishing world and a map of the one to come. -- Nathaniel Rich A fascinating book drawing on a brilliant, original line of thinking to reveal the roots and reach of our changing boreal forests... A perfect combination of lyrical writing and rigorous reporting. Utterly illuminating. -- Sophy Roberts What an extraordinary book this is! ... This is not just a description of a warming world but an active invitation to live differently, to participate with wisdom and humility in the cacophonous and ever-unfinished abundance of terrestrial life. -- Ben Ehrenreich An urgent and insightful tour of some of the world's strangest, most bewitching and most endangered environments. It is at once a tribute to indigenous wisdom, a paean to the otherworldly beauty of the taiga and the tundra, and a highly readable overview of the latest science. This is an important book, and one I will be pressing into other people's hands. -- Cal Flyn 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 Ben Rawlence circumnavigates the very top of the globe - returning with a warning, in this enthralling and wonderfully written book, that all would do well to heed. -- Mark Lynas Rawlence evokes the natural world in lyrical, delicate prose ... A timely, urgent message delivered in graceful fashion. * Kirkus, starred review * Compelling, intriguing, and thoroughly engaging ... A title of the utmost importance at a time of tremendous peril, The Treeline is a game-changer. * Booklist * A lyrical travelogue documenting the decline of the great boreal forests that encircle the north of the globe, and the cultures that depend on them... A grim and thought-provoking read. -- Rory Dusoir * Gardens Illustrated *