This has to be the most inspiring and lovely book I have read in a long time. James Aldred makes a living out of climbing trees as a wildlife cameraman and works for big names such as the BBC and National Geographic.
His passion for trees and the natural world was evident from a very young age and he honed his climbing skills as a child growing up in the New Forest in southern England.
Since then, he has climbed trees all over the world and he takes us through some of his most memorable experiences. With him, we enjoy a magical encounter with an orangutan mother and baby high in the canopy in Borneo, climb giant Brazil nut trees in the Amazon and learn about their incredible life cycle, sleep with gorillas in the Congo and build a tree house in Papua New Guinea at the very top of an enormous ironwood. It’s a tough life and he has had many near scrapes. A vicious honey bee attack in Africa left him in anaphylactic shock while despite the police riot gear he wore to place a webcam near a harpy eagle nest in Venezuela he still received huge scratches from the five inch talons of the protective mother. Enormous spiders, numerous snakes, skin-burrowing maggots and every insect imaginable all make an appearance, along with a huge and furious bull elephant which resented the invasion of his territory.
James firmly believes that each tree has its own personality, most benign but some not so. Throughout his life a huge sequoia in the New Forest which he names Goliath has been his constant and he returns regularly to climb it and recalibrate. His other favourite trees are the endangered cedars in the high snow-covered Atlas Mountains in Morocco around which the now extinct Barbary lions which used to roam. Again, he returns to them as often as he can.
This book is an absolute joy to read and the author is a brilliant advocate for trees and the world’s remaining rainforests. He puts his views across with gentle humour and modesty and his passion and admiration for trees shines through with great intensity. Ultimately optimistic, I hope it will be read and enjoyed by many.
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