UW News

April 14, 2016

Author, reporter Lynda V. Mapes discusses year with 100-year-old ‘Witness Tree’ in April 21 talk

UW News

Lynda V. Mapes

Lynda V. MapesMIT

What would it be like to spend an entire year embedded in the forest, learning about the human and natural history of a 100-year-old tree?

Local author and Seattle Times reporter Lynda V. Mapes did just that during her Bullard Fellowship in Forest Research, in which she spent 2014-15 at Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, learning from scientists, researchers — and an old red oak tree. Her forthcoming book, “Witness Tree,” will bring the climate change story to readers as told through a single tree.

Mapes will show slides from her year in the forest and read from her book, under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing, in this year’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences annual Sustaining Our World Lecture, 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21 in Johnson Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public, but organizers ask attendees to preregister online.

Mapes has been a reporter at the Seattle Times for nearly 20 years, covering Northwest tribes, nature and the environment. Recently she documented the recovery of the Elwha River watershed after the world’s largest dam removal project.

Witness Tree

Witness Tree

Mapes took a two-year hiatus from daily newspaper reporting that ultimately gave rise to her new book. In 2013-14, she was awarded a prestigious Knight Science Journalism Program fellowship at MIT, where she focused her study on how seasons and species are affected by climate change. This included research trips to Harvard Forest, where she worked with scientists and got the idea for this book — an intimate look at what one tree in the forest tells us about climate change.

She accepted the Bullard Fellowship from Harvard in 2014 that enabled her to live at Harvard Forest to continue her work and write “Witness Tree.” This will be her fourth book.

Read more about this year’s lecture on the Offshoots blog. More information about the Witness Tree project can be found on Mapes’ blog.