The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter WohllebenIn The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group. As a result of such interactions, trees in a family or community are protected and can live to be very old. In contrast, solitary trees, like street kids, have a tough time of it and in most cases die much earlier than those in a group.
Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.
A biologist believes that trees speak a language we can learn
Since the dawn of our species, they have been our silent companions , permeating our most enduring tales and never ceasing to inspire fantastical cosmogonies. But trees might be among our lushest metaphors and sensemaking frameworks for knowledge precisely because the richness of what they say is more than metaphorical — they speak a sophisticated silent language, communicating complex information via smell, taste, and electrical impulses. Then, about twenty years ago, everything changed when he began organizing survival training and log-cabin tours for tourists in his forest. As they marveled at the majestic trees, the enchanted curiosity of their gaze reawakened his own and his childhood love of nature was rekindled. Around the same time, scientists began conducting research in his forest. Soon, every day became colored with wonderment and the thrill of discovery — no longer able to see trees as a currency, he instead saw them as the priceless living wonders that they are. He recounts:.
While they may not possess the capacity to emote like people or certain animals do, research has shown that plants, specifically trees, are capable of more than many have previously assumed. Wohlleben found that the groups of trees he studied formed friendships, used electric signals to communicate, and even kept their fallen comrades alive for several additional years, even centuries. Of course, none of what appears within the best-selling work is new to biologists. What exactly makes them so special? For Wohlleben, it was the apparent friendships formed amongst neighboring forest-dwellers. Called mycorrhizal fungi, the network is composed of hyphal tubes that infiltrate the soil and weave themselves into the roots of plants and trees on a cellular level.
They speak constantly, even if quietly, communicating above- and underground using sound, scents, signals, and vibes. Biologists, ecologists, foresters, and naturalists increasingly argue that trees speak, and that humans can learn to hear this language. Connection in a network, Haskell says, necessitates communication and breeds languages; understanding that nature is a network is the first step in hearing trees talk. For the average global citizen, living far from the forest, that probably seems abstract to the point of absurdity. Haskell points readers to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador for practical guidance.