The Journeys of Trees: A Story about Forests, People, and the Future (Paperback)
An urgent and illuminating portrait of forest migration, and of the people studying the forests of the past, protecting the forests of the present, and planting the forests of the future.
Forests are restless. Any time a tree dies or a new one sprouts, the forest that includes it has shifted. When new trees sprout in the same direction, the whole forest begins to migrate, sometimes at astonishing rates. Today, however, an array of obstacles—humans felling trees by the billions, invasive pests transported through global trade—threaten to overwhelm these vital movements. Worst of all, the climate is changing faster than ever before, and forests are struggling to keep up.
A deft blend of science reporting and travel writing, The Journeys of Trees explores the evolving movements of forests by focusing on five trees: giant sequoia, ash, black spruce, Florida torreya, and Monterey pine. Journalist Zach St. George visits these trees in forests across continents, finding sequoias losing their needles in California, fossil records showing the paths of ancient forests in Alaska, domesticated pines in New Zealand, and tender new sprouts of blight-resistant American chestnuts in New Hampshire. Everywhere he goes, St. George meets lively people on conservation’s front lines, from an ecologist studying droughts to an evolutionary evangelist with plans to save a dying species. He treks through the woods with activists, biologists, and foresters, each with their own role to play in the fight for the uncertain future of our environment.
An eye-opening investigation into forest migration past and present, The Journeys of Trees examines how we can all help our trees, and our planet, survive and thrive.
About the Author
Zach St. George is a science reporter who has written for the Atlantic, Scientific American, and Outside, among other publications. He earned a degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
A deeply researched book that is liable to change your perspective on the magnificent, tall, woody creatures that cover one-third of the Earth's land... [St. George] brings a flair for gathering and distilling esoteric scientific findings into lively, accessible explanations.
— Wall Street Journal
A thoughtful and timely meditation on how our changing world disrupts the bonds between trees, the lands they root in, and the people whose lives they nourish—and what we might do about it.
— Sonia Shah, author of Pandemic and The Next Great Migration
These stories vividly evoke the deep bonds between people and trees. In the paradoxical, surprising journeys of trees is writ the sylvan future of forests and cities alike.
— David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen
A fascinating, eloquent, and often surprisingly funny journey into the troubled relationship between people and trees in a future that is now. This is the smartest book yet on how to think and live in the age of climate change.
— J. B. MacKinnon, author of The Once and Future World
How does a tree travel? From that seemingly koan-like question, Zach St. George creates an illuminating, enchanting, and occasionally alarming portrait of an earth in flux. I will treasure this book long into our uncertain future.
— Robert Moor, author of On Trails
This captivating book makes deep acquaintance with five species of tree, revealing that life is constantly on the move and nature needs space to survive. Forests, it turns out, migrate across vast dimensions of space and time, engaged in an invisible ballet Zach St. George helps us to see.
— Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of Citizen Scientist
An elegant—and urgent—paean to trees.
— Jim Robbins, author of The Man Who Planted Trees
I was once asked by a scientist, ‘Are you ready to put a sprinkler system on the giant sequoias?’ Zach St. George takes us on a journey to understand why this question is so important and the answer so complex.
— Jonathan Jarvis, former director of the National Park Service and coauthor of The Future of Conservation in America
[A] rumination, backed by in-depth reporting, on the current state of North America’s forests.…the extraordinary scientists [St. George] features here do give hope that their nuanced work…will be taken seriously enough to repair, even avert, catastrophic change.
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.
— Library Journal