Financial TimesFinancial Times

The ancient subarctic forests at risk from climate change and war

By Alexandra Heal, Steven Bernard

11 Sep 2022 · 9 min read

Editor's Note

The FT's weekend Big Read is about the destruction of the boreal forests. The emerald crown south of the Arctic circle  — also known as the “taiga” — is the largest land-based ecosystem.

In summer 2019, the physicist Gareth Rees flew into Yakutsk to meet a team of Russian scientists. The far eastern Siberian port is known as the coldest city on Earth, but that year it was simmering under a heatwave. Together the researchers drove deep into the region’s sprawling forests on a road paved by gulag prisoners.

The British and Russian scientists were on a mission to study how the boreal forests of the subarctic region are transforming with climate change. Together they measured 2,000 trees, sweating under the heavy clothes protecting them from crowds of insects.

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