Rainforest: Light and Spirit

by Harry Holcroft and Ghillean Prance

This beautiful book takes you on a journey through the various layers of the rainforest and with each page those layers unfold: from the dark forest floor with only flecks of sunlight up to the canopy that looks like a vast sea of trees. The detail and magic of both picture and written word captures the excitement of the rainforest and as you turn each page you feel as if you are there unthreading yet another layer.

This magic is all done through Holcroft illustrations and diary entries which are illuminated by a text from Professor Sir Ghillean Prance about the rainforests' role in stabilising the climate. Prince Charles, who has written a foreword, calls the book, 'A powerful advocate and call to arms.'

Harry Holcroft is an explorer and painter who has daringly tackled what must be the most beautiful and complex landscape on earth to capture. The bulk of the text is by the distinguished botanist Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, former director of RBG, Kew and the discoverer of some 350 plant species.

painting of brightly coloured macaws by harry holcroft

Prance eloquently compares the rainforests of the Amazon, the Congo, Madagascar, Indonesia and Malaysia using plants as his focus as well as capturing the great diversity of creatures they support: from orang-utans to poison-arrow frogs.

Holcroft and Prance have jointly captured the rainforests in a way that few can, while at the same time hammering home the important message of these living ecosystems and just how vital they are as global environmental resource, sucking in carbon dioxide from the air as they grow. The impact of deforestation upon our climate comes across loud and clear.

This book is brilliant and a must-have, one that you will come back to time after time.

Don Murray, June 2009

Curator, Rainforest Biome

This review first appeared in the Eden Project Friends' Magazine.