The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us (Paperback)
“An eye-opening and enchanting book by one of our major scientist-explorers.” —Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper’s Wife
Nicknamed the “Real-Life Lorax” by National Geographic, the biologist, botanist, and conservationist Meg Lowman—aka “CanopyMeg”—takes us on an adventure into the “eighth continent” of the world's treetops, along her journey as a tree scientist, and into climate action
Welcome to the eighth continent!
As a graduate student exploring the rain forests of Australia, Meg Lowman realized that she couldn’t monitor her beloved leaves using any of the usual methods. So she put together a climbing kit: she sewed a harness from an old seat belt, gathered hundreds of feet of rope, and found a tool belt for her pencils and rulers. Up she went, into the trees.
Forty years later, Lowman remains one of the world’s foremost arbornauts, known as the “real-life Lorax.” She planned one of the first treetop walkways and helps create more of these bridges through the eighth continent all over the world.
With a voice as infectious in its enthusiasm as it is practical in its optimism, The Arbornaut chronicles Lowman’s irresistible story. From climbing solo hundreds of feet into the air in Australia’s rainforests to measuring tree growth in the northeastern United States, from searching the redwoods of the Pacific coast for new life to studying leaf eaters in Scotland’s Highlands, from conducting a BioBlitz in Malaysia to conservation planning in India and collaborating with priests to save Ethiopia’s last forests, Lowman launches us into the life and work of a field scientist, ecologist, and conservationist. She offers hope, specific plans, and recommendations for action; despite devastation across the world, through trees, we can still make an immediate and lasting impact against climate change.
A blend of memoir and fieldwork account, The Arbornaut gives us the chance to live among scientists and travel the world—even in a hot-air balloon! It is the engrossing, uplifting story of a nerdy tree climber—the only girl at the science fair—who becomes a giant inspiration, a groundbreaking, ground-defying field biologist, and a hero for trees everywhere.
Includes black-and-white illustrations
About the Author
Meg Lowman, PhD, aka “CanopyMeg,” is an American biologist, educator, ecologist, writer, editor, and public speaker. She is the executive director of the TREE Foundation and a professor at the National University of Singapore, Arizona State University, and Universiti Sains Malaysia. Nicknamed the “real-life Lorax” by National Geographic and “Einstein of the treetops” by The Wall Street Journal, Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology. Her motto is “no child left indoors.” She travels extensively for research, outreach, and speaking engagements for audiences large and small.
“A book can be a beacon, a roadmap, an education. The Arbornaut is all that.”
—Barbara Kiser, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Equal parts memoir, scientific reporting, love letter to the trees and a call to action in the face of the climate crisis . . . Most charming of all is Lowman’s joy and wonder at the natural world . . . By the time you reach the last page of this book, you’ll either want to climb a tree, hug a tree or both.”
—Rachel Zarrow, San Francisco Chronicle
“Written . . . not just to instruct, but to reorient and inspire . . . If a tree was once understood as a mostly static living object, [through The Arbornaut] we see it rippling with change.”
—Rebecca Giggs, The Atlantic
“A riveting memoir from ‘CanopyMeg,’ a pioneer in treetop science . . . Solid science combined with a pleasing writing style make for a winning book.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
“To call The Arbornaut a nature book . . . does not begin to capture the complexity and wonderment and introspection that [it] so beautifully present[s] . . . What [Lowman] tells us about what she calls the ‘eighth continent’ above our heads, and her own life as a single mother and a woman in a field long dominated by men, is both inspirational and fascinating.”
“[The Arbornaut] vividly recounts [Lowman’s] adventures as a pioneering biologist, botanist, and conservationist . . . Lowman’s stories of global fieldwork model a truly inspiring feminist ethic of collaboration and inclusivity that will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of women to explore biology and conservation.”
—Erica Wetter, Bust
“The Arbornaut [is] about an extraordinary life, one spent among trees.”
—Sophie Cunningham, The Guardian
“[Lowman] excels at bringing the natural world to life in language. . . [Her] research is full of life, energy, intelligence and determination. It’s impossible to read about it without wanting to examine the natural world more closely . . . The Arbornaut is a book to reach for if you, like Lowman, love the natural world and want to live in it fully.”
—Kelly Blewett, BookPage (starred review)
“Lowman’s contributions to ecology are numerous, as a professor, science communicator, international collaborator, and leader in conservation organizations. In this science-oriented memoir, she details a lifetime of experiences . . . A highly engaging read.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
"A passionate look at the 'unexplored wonderland' of trees . . . Lowman shines in her ability to combine accessible science with exciting personal anecdotes that effectively convey the 'thrill of aerial exploration' and bolster her case that trees—and sustainable ecosystems—are worth studying, protecting, and preserving. Nature lovers will find much to consider."
“A treasure for tree huggers . . . Delightful . . . It’s a book to savor, perfect for anyone seeking to deepen their knowledge of trees, forest, and the remarkable interconnectedness of nature.”
—Eric Liebetrau, Kirkus Reviews
“[Meg Lowman] tells her story with remarkable detail, highlighting her research methods and discoveries as well as the adversity she faced as a woman in the sciences and a single mother.”
—Carlyn Kranking, Audubon Magazine
“Amazing . . . An inspiring book.”
—WICN Public Radio
“An ideal book for city-bound nature lovers suffering withdrawal during lockdown . . . [Lowman] forged a remarkable career researching canopies all over the world and educating the public on the wonders of this ‘eighth continent’ in the tree tops.”
—Kerryn Goldsworthy and Fiona Capp, The Sydney Morning Herald
“Lowman details a career that embodies the word ‘trail-blazing’ . . . From start to finish, the word that best describes [The Arbornaut] is ‘spirited.’”
—Emily Donaldson, The Globe and Mail
“A fascinating journey.”
—Sarah Boon, Undark
"The Arbornaut captures the magic of that little-known world with its pioneering stories and clear, informative text. Readers everywhere will be fascinated and inspired to learn more about nature, and especially about how we need to conserve the world’s forests.”
—Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and United Nations Messenger of Peace
"The Arbornaut is about a shy girl who loved to play outdoors and became a scientist who educated the world about the abundant life in the treetops. I loved it.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human, Animals in Translation, and Thinking in Pictures
“The Arbornaut is an eye-opening and enchanting book by one of our major scientist-explorers. Without Meg Lowman, we’d miss so many of the planet’s wonders that just happen to lie out of sight, in a realm we take for granted, ignore, or never knew about to begin with. Lowman is the perfect guide to that little-known, life-besotted world, and has fascinating stories to tell about her life in the top story.”
—Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper’s Wife
“This is the most exciting and innovative way of introducing science that I have seen in many years. Everyone will want to read this book. Meg Lowman is starting a whole new movement exploring the treetops!”
—E. O. Wilson, author of Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life