Ben Rawlence Portrait

The Treeline

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Ben Rawlence

Award winning writer, activist, former speech writer to Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy and co-founder.

Ben wrote two books about the human consequences of environmental catastrophe in Africa: Radio Congo about the people living in the wreck-age of Eastern Congo’s resource wars and City of Thorns– about people fleeing famine and climate-driven war in the Horn of Africa. After moving to Wales and beginning to research the coming impacts of climate change closer to home, his attention turned to the Arctic Circle and the boreal forest. What he discovered led to his third book: The Treeline and to a dawning realisation that we needed to prepare – and soon – for major changes to our ways of life. And to do that, we need new institutions that promote new ways of thinking and learning, new ways of seeing ourselves and new ways of interacting with the non-human world. Black Mountains College is committed to that task.

Fascinating. A perfect combination of lyrical writing and rigorous reporting. Utterly illuminating.”

—Sophy Roberts, author of The Lost Pianos of Siberia

Beautiful. . . Rawlence brings the zeal of a journalist and the heart of a naturalist. An enormous gift.”

—M.R. O’Connor, author of Wayfinding

A moving, thoughtful, deeply reported elegy for our vanishing world.”

—Nathaniel Rich, author of Losing Earth

Published by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN 9781250270238

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In the tradition of Elizabeth Kolbert and Barry Lopez, a powerful, poetic and deeply absorbing account of the ‘lung’ at the top of the world.

For the last fifty years, the trees of the boreal forest have been moving north. Ben Rawlence’s The Treeline takes us along this critical frontier of our warming planet from Norway to Siberia, Alaska to Greenland, Canada to Sweden to meet the scientists, residents and trees confronting huge geological changes. Only the hardest species survive at these latitudes including the ice-loving Dahurian larch of Siberia, the antiseptic Spruce that purifies our atmosphere, the Downy birch conquering Scandinavia, the healing Balsam poplar that Native Americans use as a cure-all and the noble Scots Pine that lives longer when surrounded by its family.

It is a journey of wonder and awe at the incredible creativity and resilience of these species and the mysterious workings of the forest upon which we rely for the air we breathe. Blending reportage with the latest science, The Treeline is a story of what might soon be the last forest left and what that means for the future of all life on earth.