How to think about trees and focus on our planet’s future


Tree Sense: Ways of thinking about trees

Published by Massey University Press, June 2021, RRP: 37.00

At a moment when the planet is clearly in peril, the trees stand as both guardians and messengers. They have words for us — if only we would listen.

As climate change imposes significant challenges on the natural world, we are being encouraged to plant trees. At the same time, urban intensification and expansion threatens our existing arboreal resources and leads to disputes among communities, councils and developers over the fate of mature trees. To find our way through this confusion, we need to build our respect for trees and to recognise their essential role in our environment, our heritage, our well-being and our future. We need in short, to build a robust ‘tree sense’.

In the striking new book Tree Sense: Ways of Thinking About Trees, published by Massey University Press in June, editor Susette Goldsmith brings together essays, art and poetry by artists, activists, ecologists and advocates. Among the contributors are Philip Simpson, Anne Noble, Huhana Smith, Elizabeth Smither, Kennedy Warne and Glyn Church each of whom conveys the many ways in which humans need trees, and how our future is laced into their roots and their branches.

“We see trees differently. Some of us affectionately consider them to be sentient beings, while others prioritise their practical attributes of shade and shelter, carbon sequestration, timber production, botanical collection and food,” writes Goldsmith in the introduction to Tree Sense: Ways of thinking about trees.

Beautifully packaged as a small, jacketed paperback, perfect for dipping into, the book features line drawings by the late Nancy Adams and a stunning eight-page fold out of an Anne Noble image made by burying photographic film in the roots of trees.

Dr Susette Goldsmith, a writer and editor of non-fiction, is Adjunct Research Fellow at the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies.

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