The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas

The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas
Paperback, 5.5 x 7.5, with more than 400 maps and illustrations, 640 pages.
ISBN: 9781597144797.

By Obi Kaufmann

2021 Northern California Book Award nominee, General Nonfiction

From the author of The California Field Atlas (#1 San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller) comes a major work that not only guides readers through the Golden State’s forested lands, but also presents a profoundly original vision of nature in the twenty-first century. The Forests of California features an abundance of Obi Kaufmann’s signature watercolor maps and trail paintings, weaving them into an expansive and accessible exploration of the biodiversity that defines California in the global imagination. Expanding on the style of the Field Atlas, Kaufmann tells an epic story that spans millions of years, nearly one hundred species of trees, and an astonishing richness of ecosystems. The Forests of California is the first volume in a planned trilogy of field atlases, with The Coasts of California and The Deserts of California to follow, and Kaufmann seeks to create nothing less than a new understanding of the more-than-human world. The lessons in this book extend well beyond California’s borders. If Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees and Richard Powers’s The Overstory opened readers’ eyes to the awesome power of arboreal life, The Forests of California gives readers a unique and unprecedented immersion in that power.


“Masterful . . . The work that has gone into this book is simply astonishing; every page is a treasure trove of information and beauty.” San Francisco Book Review
“A call to action . . . full of beautiful watercolor renderings of both landscape and data.” Los Angeles Times
The Forests of California is a breathtaking object.” Berkeleyside
“Obi Kaufmann’s books are like bibles to me. They are, honestly, the outdoor guides I’ve looked for for decades. They’re beautifully drawn, written, printed and bound, and they explain California’s natural beauty better than anything I’ve read before." Dave Eggers
“[A] must-read. The Forests of California features an abundance of Kaufmann's signature watercolor maps and trail paintings, weaving them into an expansive and accessible exploration of the biodiversity that defines California in the global imagination.” 7x7
“One-of-a-kind." Diablo Magazine
“Kaufmann’s expressive writing is matched by his creativity as an artist . . . [The Forests of California] is Audubon-esque in style and scope.” San Francisco Examiner
“Swirls research with poetry, the personal and human with the collective and ecological . . .” Mother Jones
“[Kaufmann] lay[s] important groundwork to help people better understand the complex ecology of the state’s varied forests and why they are so important.” The Revelator
“Braiding colorful watercolors of local flora and fauna with expertly illustrated infographics and maps, Forests is a must-read for anyone who cranes their neck skyward in great groves of Sequoia; for those who wonder how mountains are shaped, how carbon is stored; how fires can replenish―or reduce to ash. The lush, illustrative tome offers an instant education in one of the West’s greatest assets. . . . Obi leaves no leaf unturned in his quest to capture the wonder and fragility of this important resource.” Sunset
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About the Author

Obi Kaufmann

Obi Kaufmann

Obi Kaufmann is the author of The California Field Atlas (2017, #1 San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller), The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Natural Resource (2019), and The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas (2020)The Coasts of California (2022), and The Deserts of California (2023) all published by Heyday. When he is not backpacking, you can find the painter-poet at home in the East Bay, posting trail paintings at his handle @coyotethunder on Instagram. His speaking tour dates are available at, and his essays are posted at

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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