Thanks to the work of biologist and author Meg Lowman, it is possible to walk on canopies high up in trees. She has pioneered forest canopy research and has built canopy walkways to help raise the awareness of the vital role forests play. Those canopies also help developing nations create jobs through tree canopy tourism.
Forest canopy research involves studying flora and fauna in the treetops of tropical forests. Those forest canopies provide homes and food sources for many species of life, including insects and plants. Lowman learned that half of our terrestrial biodiversity lives in the canopy. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life in the world or in a certain area.
Born in Elmira, New York on Dec. 23, 1953, Lowman gained an international reputation for helping people understand the importance of forests. The Wall Street Journal once called her the Einstein of treetops.
She has used slingshot-fired ropes, hot air balloons with sleds, canopy cranes and canopy walkways to build canopies in the trees. Those canopies help people see forests from a different point of view. In so doing, she pioneered the science of canopy ecology. In more than 30 years of building walkways in treetops, she has come to understand that changes or damage to any species in the canopy or elsewhere can cause an imbalance in the entire ecosystem. The result of that change or damage can have long-term ecological implications.
She calls herself an arbornaut, a treetop explorer. She is a National Geographic explorer, and the National Geographic Society has funded her work since 1998. She has authored several books and more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed scientific publications. Among her books is Life in the Treetops: Adventures of a Woman in Field Biology. In the book, she describes the mysteries of the treetops, including their animal and plant inhabitants. She also talks about the challenges of juggling her field biologist life with marriage, motherhood, and being a single parent.
She is the director of global initiatives and senior scientist for plant conservation at the California Academy of Sciences. She co-founded the Tree Foundation and is still its executive director. It promotes education about forests. You can find out more about the organization at https://treefoundation.org.
She has developed an international network, and with her passion for science she is a role model for women and minorities in science. You can learn more about this amazing woman at https://canopymeg.com.