The power of lament: Reckoning with loss in an urban forest

Publication Name

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space


This paper explores the lamenting for a street tree to better understand reactions to ecological loss. It responds to calls for social studies research into how ecological loss is felt and expressed, particularly when that loss and its emotional impact is unrecognised. Drawing on a unique dataset of emails to trees in Melbourne, we consider the most emailed tree, a tree felled despite collective action. Lamenting for this tree is explored as an individual and collective process that includes but extends beyond grief. A lament, we argue, involves shaping and expressing an account of loss that holds others to account. Understood as an embodied and emplaced process, we develop the case for the concept of lament through detailing the feeling, narrating, sharing and placing of loss. We argue that examining lament in this way reveals new insights into lived experiences and expressions related to facing the damage and destruction of nonhuman life and landscapes.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)