Are Trees in the Forest Part of a Secret Society?

Are trees in the forest part of a secret society?

Twitter image of a carved smiling tree

If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one around, do the other trees feel the pain? Well, if you listen to German forest ranger and best-selling author, Peter Wohlleben, the answer would be yes.

In his  book, published in May 2015, “The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate- Discoveries from A Secret World,” Wohlleben suggests  that maybe we haven’t been seeing the forest for the trees.

From his personal scientific research, Mr. Wohlleben has made many smile, on his media trail, as he spreads the delightful news, “Trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.” 

It seems trees in the forest are part of a secret society.

Wohlleben started off by studying forestry, and began working for the state forestry administration in Rhineland-Palatinate in 1987. He then became a forester managing 3,000 acres of woods near Cologne.

Soon he began to realize that many modern practices were not beneficial for the trees or those who depend on them. His own research has led him to the conclusion that trees operate more like communal elements and less like individual entities. He learned they  work together and share resources to ensure stability.

Intrigued by his newly discovered knowledge, Peter Wohllben decided to take a closer look at the dynamics of tree planting in forestation. He frequented a few private forests in Switzerland and Germany and liked what he saw there.

“They had really thick, old trees,” he said. “They treated their forest much more lovingly, and the wood they produced was more valuable.”

Coming across a pair of sky-scraping beech trees in the German forest, Wohlleben pointed out, “See these trees- they are friends. You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light.”

“Sometimes,” he adds, “pairs like this are so interconnected at the roots that when one tree dies, the other one dies, too.”

Wohlleben wanted to write “The Hidden Life of Trees” to show everyone just how wonderful trees really are.

Are trees in the forest part of a secret society?

Treebeard? Let’s talk!

J.R. Tolkien seemed to have thought about the same hidden network and interdependency of trees and how they had a life of their own when he created the whimsical story of the Ents in Lord of the Rings. Treebeard was the ancient one- the shepherd of the trees. He had his own story to tell. Perhaps each forest today has its own Treebeard. Perhaps a new respect for trees and their hidden lives will be the result of Wohlleben’s revelations- a respect that will guide responsible forestry into the future.

Twitter photo source: /721770228829528064?lang=en-gb
Treebeard- YouTube shot

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    • Lin Jenkinson
    • Lin Jenkinson

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