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Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge

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Edited by David R. Foster

Written by Anthony D'Amato, Benjamin Baiser, Aaron M. Ellison, David Foster, David Orwig, Wyatt Oswald, Audrey Barker Plotkin, and Jonathan Thompson; Stephen Long, Consulting Editor

Foreword by Robert Sullivan.

336 pages, 69 illustrations
ISBN: 9780300179385
Published in 2014 by Yale University Press

Multimedia | Excerpts & Press | Reviews| Events

For millennia, Eastern Hemlock trees have held irreplaceable cultural value and created unique forest habitat across New England. Today, they are disappearing from our forests, falling by the tens of thousands as prey to an exotic insect foe. Drawing from a century of long-term studies at the Harvard Forest, the authors explore what hemlock's modern decline can tell us about the challenges facing nature and society in an era of habitat fragmentation, climate change, and shifting human priorities. Historical accounts of foresters and ecologists over the past century provide insights into the tree's importance and the nature of science itself.



(Full album of book illustrations for download.)



All videos produced by Roberto Mighty.

Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge


Hemlocks through Time: the Sanderson Tannery   


Pisgah: Lessons from a Dynamic Forest          

Hemlock Forests: an Iconic Ecosystem


Chapter Excerpts & Press

 Arnoldia Winter 2014:
"Hemlock:A Forest Giant on the Edge" by David Foster
 Orion March/April 2014:
"Forest Farewell" by Robert Sullivan
Northern Woodlands Spring 2014:
"The Pisgah Forest" by David Foster
Forest History Today Spring/Fall 2013: "Lessons from Harvard Forests and Ecologists" by David Foster

  "A Hemlock Farewell" in Harvard Magazine (June 2014)


David Foster and Robert Sullivan on WNPR (April 2014)


Robert Sullivan on WAMC (March 2014)

  Robert Sullivan on Vermont Public Radio (March 2014)



“For any lover of the eastern forest, the decline of the noble hemlock is a hard story to hear; told here, by a group of the forest’s foremost chroniclers, the story acquires a majesty worthy of its subject.”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“A beautiful portrait of an evocative forest giant, full of insights into the practice of science, and the lives of trees, people and landscapes in a changing world.”—Peter Crane, author of Ginkgo: The Tree that Time Forgot

“[This volume] is a [synthesis] of scientific literature into an enjoyable reading for those not trained in the scientific method and technical writing.”—Katherine Elliott, Center for Forest Watershed Science, USDA Forest Service

“This is a groundbreaking work of science and history, of an iconic tree species and its ecosystem.”—David Mladenoff, University of Wisconsin

“[This book] has the potential to serve as an important, even landmark volume, about the landscape history of New England and North America in general.”—Margaret Lowman, author of Life in the Treetops and It’s a Jungle Up There

“I absolutely loved this book! Hemlock is a fascinating blend of science and the people who conducted that science.”—Alan White, University of Maine

"The hemlock tree warns of globalization of pests and diseases, subverting the future of all forests. This most meticulous ecological study uses archives, archaeology, pollen analysis, and trees themselves."—Oliver Rackham, author of Ash

“A nuanced and lovely account of the challenges facing the Eastern hemlock today, projecting its greatly diminished future in our woods, and reflecting on the rapid alteration of our planet to which we all too often remain blind.”—Peter Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden


April 7-9, 2014
Northeast Natural History Conference
Springfield, MA

April 14, 2014
University of Maine
Orono, ME

May 20, 2014
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Cambridge, MA
June 12, 2014
Arnold Arboretum
Boston, MA