On December 14, 2021 Meg Lowman sat down with Lady Freethinker about her pioneering exploration of forest canopies, overcoming challenges as a female scientist in a male-dominated field, and what people can do with their everyday purchasing power to make a difference. Here is a preview into their conversation:
‘If you asked arboreal adventurer Meg Lowman for advice, she might tell you, “Always carry a headlamp” or “Wear a vest with lots of pockets.”
She also might advise you to stop buying products containing palm oil, the demand for which is wiping out life-saving rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia, or to start speaking up for the senior trees in your neighborhood facing a city-ordered chainsaw to make more room for roads or apartment buildings.
Lowman – an American biologist, educator, ecologist, professor, and executive director of the Tree Foundation – recounts her trailblazing work in canopy science and her escapades and challenges as a female scientist in her memoir The Arbornaut, released this year by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Scientists now believe that more than 50 percent of the earth’s land-dwelling critters live in canopies unreachable for most humans – leading Lowman to dub the undiscovered forest heights the “eighth continent” and herself, as one of the first canopy climbers, as an “arbornaut.”
Lowman intersperses outlines of her scientific process and projects with engaging anecdotes – from her time spent camping out as a single female in remote areas of the Australian Outback to navigating negotiations with priests to save sole stands of trees surrounding Ethiopian forests, known as “church forests.”’
Read or listen to the full interview here!