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Top journalism award for Welsh writer

01 May 2023 3 minute read
The Treeline: The Last Forest on Earth and the Future of Life on Earth is published by Jonathan Cape

The New York Public Library has announced Ben Rawlence from Talgarth in Powys as the winner of its 36th annual Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The award recognizes nonfiction books written by working journalists that bring attention and transparency to current events or societal issues of global or national significance.

The nominees this year all published works highlighting important topics such as the impact social media has had on the opinions and actions of everyday users, the effects of racial discrimination of Black Americans in healthcare, and an extensive account of the migrant crisis across North Africa.

The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth by Ben Rawlence (St. Martin’s Press) is 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.

A trio of Scots pines Photo by Jonathan Kington via Wikicommons

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.

Ben Rawlence is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa.

He is the author of City of Thorns and Radio Congo and has written for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and Prospect.

He is the founder and director of Black Mountains College and lives with his family in Talgarth.

Read a review of Treeline here

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