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FOREST HEROINE: Tree advocate Diana Beresford-Kroeger sets reforestation sights high

Drawing attention to the role of trees in mitigating the effects of climate change, disease and the degradation of nature.

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Editor’s Note: International Women’s Day is Saturday, 8 March, and in honor of women’s many contributions to forestry, Forests News is publishing stories from readers about their “forest heroines” — women who have devoted their lives to make a difference for the world’s forests and the people who live in them. Throughout the week, we will be sharing these women’s stories. In this one, guest blogger Stuart Bernstein writes about his forest heroine, Diana Beresford-Kroeger.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist, medical biochemist, author, lecturer and advocate for trees and forests, best known for her rare ability to bring an understanding and appreciation of their complexities to the general public.

Through her books, lectures, radio and television appearances, and her work for such organizations as The Woodland League in Ireland, Ecology Ottawa in Canada and Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in the United States, she has applied her scientific background to advocate for reforestation.

In addition to her educational qualifications, Diana uses the experience gained working in her forest-garden laboratory in Canada to inform her efforts to draw attention to the role of trees in mitigating the effects of climate change, disease and the degradation of nature.

Convinced that waiting for governments to act will not reverse carbon emissions and particulate pollution, both of which are regulated and alleviated by forests, she has taken her message directly to the people. Her hope is that they will be encouraged to plant more trees as well as appreciate and protect the trees already around them.

To that end, among other activities, Diana initiated a millennium project in which she distributed, free of charge, three-quarters of a million seeds and seedlings  to anyone who promised to plant them.

If there is a patch of old growth forest threatened, or even one important tree, if she can, Diana will lend her scientific knowledge to the cause. She has spoken out for communities trying to hold back the tides of development on behalf of the preservation of land long inhabited by indigenous peoples, and for the designation of U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites.

In his foreword to her book, Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest, U.S. biologist Edward O. Wilson states: “[Diana] Beresford-Kroeger and I share a dream. We want people to see the forest and the trees, and the wildlife abounding in wild environments, in fine detail. We want native species to be valued and cultivated one by one for the special place they have in the deep history of the land. We want horticulturalists to contribute more consciously and joyfully to the precious natural heritage they represent. Arboretum America speaks for the trees as well as it has ever been done.”

Stuart Bernstein is a literary agent with Representation for Artists in New York. The views expressed above are those of the author and not the Center for International Forestry Research. 

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  • John Saari

    I have been a tree-hugger all my life(age 62). I can feel the life in the forest. I know with proper management of forests we could we can have more forests with larger trees, while still harvesting. Keep up the good work.