They Carry Us With Them: The Great Tree Migration

Emergence Magazine
by Kalliopeia Foundation
Photo by Jeremy Seifert

Around the world, scores of species of trees are moving north, or west, or upslope. Some species are losing ground, others are gaining it. Migration is not new to forests. But the accelerating climate crisis has greatly diminished the ability of trees to move effectively.

This new interactive multimedia feature from Emergence Magazine, by Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder and Jeremy Seifert, explores tree migration in Maine through essays, film, photography, and animated infographics. The stories “Black Ash,” “Sugar Maple,” “Paper Birch,” and “Red Spruce,” consider what is at stake as forests shift away from the ecological and human communities they have long inhabited.

Every story of tree migration is a cultural as well as an ecological story. “Black Ash” follows Wabanaki black ash basketmakers in Maine—who carry generations of cultural and ecological knowledge through their art—as an invasive beetle calls the existence of the tree into question. The vanishing range of ash in North America is in some ways the story of an unstoppable forest pest. But more so, it is a story of all that is held by trees and all that stands to be lost when a species moves away from the places and people who have folded that tree into their way of life.

Open Feature