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What's happening in the woods? – noted authors visit to explain

Two noted authors whose books on forestry are grabbing attention around the world will be at the Williams Lake library Monday evening for a book talk

Two noted authors whose books on forestry are grabbing attention around the world will be at the Williams Lake library Monday evening for a book talk.

The visiting authors are Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Empire of the Beetle, and Charlotte Gill, author of Eating Dirt.

Cariboo Regional District area librarian Caroline Derksen says the authors have been receiving quite a bit of attention for their latest books and became available for the book talk in Williams Lake at the last minute hence the short notice.

The authors will be speak in Suite A at the library starting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26. and will be available for book signings following the event.

Nikiforuk is a recipient of the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and the Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction.

In Empire of the Beetle, Nikiforuk draws on first-hand accounts from entomologists, botanists, foresters, and rural residents to investigate the unprecedented pine beetle plague, its startling implications, and the lessons it holds.

Written in an accessible way, Empire of the Beetle is the only book on the pine beetle epidemic that is devastating the North American West.

Beginning in the late 1980s, a series of pine beetle (bark beetle) outbreaks unsettled iconic forests and communities across western North America. An insect the size of a rice kernel eventually killed more than 30 billion pine and spruce trees from Alaska to New Mexico.

Nikiforuk’s book maintains the pine beetle didn’t act alone. Misguided science, out-of-control logging, bad public policy, and 100  years of fire suppression released the world’s oldest forest manager from all natural constraints.

The beetles exploded wildly in North America and then crashed, leaving in their wake grieving landowners, humbled scientists, hungry animals, and altered watersheds.

Eating Dirt, by Charlotte Gill, is a tree planter’s vivid story of a unique subculture and the magical life of the forest. Gill spent 20 years working as a tree planter in Canada.

During her million-tree career, she encountered hundreds of clear-cuts, each one a collision site between human civilization and the natural world, a complicated landscape presenting geographic evidence of our appetites.

Charged with sowing the new forest in these clear-cuts, tree planters are a tribe caught between the stumps and the virgin timber, between environmentalists and loggers. In Eating Dirt, Gill offers up a slice of tree planting life in all of its soggy, gritty exuberance, while questioning the ability of conifer plantations to replace original forests that evolved over millennia into complex ecosystems.

She looks at logging’s environmental impact and its boom-and-bust history, and touches on the versatility of wood, from which we have devised countless creations as diverse as textiles and airplane parts.

Eating Dirt also eloquently evokes the wonder of trees, which grow from tiny seeds into one of the world’s largest organisms, our slowest-growing “renewable” resource.