Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

Forests. On trees, people and thousands of other phenomenal species


For a tree, life after death isn’t just a hope but a reality. This is a book about forests; forest nature, species diversity and people; about the span from the millimetric perspective of an insect’s short life – lived in its entirety beneath a scrap of bark – to the miles-wide expanses of sylvan landscapes where our exploitation of forests has shaped cultures and societies over hundreds of years. By weaving together ecology, history, politics and culture into an overarching narrative, the book offers readers an insight into a profoundly fascinating ecosystem, and give them a basis for understanding the role forests play in today’s nature and climate crisis.

The first chapter describes the characteristics of a forest. The next deals with forest fires and storms. A third chapter looks at one of the most living things in the forest: dead trees. In the fourth you’ll find examples of strange and surprising interactions between dead trees and other species. The fifth chapter is about how it isn’t always easy to be a rare species in the forest, while chapter six hops like a hare through history, showing how timber has been used over the centuries. The seventh chapter covers ecosystem services other than timber. In chapter eight, we roam through the cultural undergrowth, defined as all the aspects of forests that rouse emotions and inspire expansive thoughts – be they myths, beliefs, pictures, books or just forests themselves. Or their absence. The ninth chapter is devoted to the ongoing debate about forests, before we round off with the tenth chapter, which is all about time, perspective and the shifting baselines in the forest.

Nominated for the 2023 Brage Prize and the 2023 Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize

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‘No book I have read on the subject in recent years resembles SKOGEN by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson. The book is a masterpiece of popular science.’


‘Wonderful and Terrifying. Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson’s book about the forest should be obligatory reading in every home.’

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Photo: Celina Øier

Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås, Norway, as well as a scientific advisor for The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NINA. She has a Doctorate degree in conservation biology and lectures on nature management and forest biodiversity. Her research focuses on insect ecology. Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson has been appointed Honorary Doctor of Forest Sciences at the Faculty of Forest Sciences at SLU in Sweden. In recent years, she has written five books about insects and nature. These critically acclaimed books have been translated into more than 25 languages and are sold all over the world. In addition she has studied history and is interested in outreach activities, runs a science blog and is a regular guest on the popular science radio program EKKO – Abel’s Tower on NRK P2. In 2020, she received the Award for Excellence in Communication of Science from The Research Council of Norway.