James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

Heading for Lapland!

Today I’m heading for Lapland. As wikipedia quite right states, Lapland is home to Father Christmas and of course Rudolph. Amongst less import claims to fame, Lapland also has miles upon miles of undisturbed forest and tundra, which is the reason I’m going (honest).

I study a small nondescript tree called Dwarf Birch. On looks alone, it’s not going to change the world any time soon, but it is a great tree to study if we want to understand climate change and habitat fragmentation. Both big problems, both issues you’re unlikely to hear about on BBC Breakfast. (For an excellent, easy to understand explanation of why habitat fragmentation is such bad news, take a look at this.)

I’ve spent the last few months chasing around the Scottish Highlands searching out tiny surviving populations of this tree, way up on remote mountain sides or out in the middle of peat bogs. In Lapland, I’m told it’s everywhere!

As ever with these trips, reading about a place in advance is one thing, getting there is entirely another. I’m sure the learning curve will be steep, the company fun, plans not quite to plan and adventures unexpected.

I’m also lucky to have my good friend Lawrence Ball coming along to give me a hand (it’s not great to head off into a peat bog on your lonesome..). Lawrence has spent the first part of this year out in Oman, continuing all the great work in the Dhofar Mountains. I think he’ll find it a bit chilly…


Follow the Expedition

If you think fieldwork in Lapland sounds kind of fun (even if you’re secretly glad to be enjoying the UK heatwave instead), then follow our progress and feel free to ask questions!



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Everyone’s doing it these days! I’ll be uploading updates and photos to Instagram and Facebook



The nice folks at Luxson have given us a map to plot our progress. It’s really rather clever, take a look!