If you love trees and, really, who among us doesn't, there's a new book out there that you will truly enjoy reading. It's entitled, "The Hidden Life of Trees; What They Feel, How They Communicate" by Peter Wohlleben. In this wonderful book, Mr. Wohlleben tells us of his time managing a forest in the Eiffel Mountains of Germany; about the astonishing language of trees and what they have to teach us...if we're willing to listen and learn. He explains about the roles "forests have in making our world the kind of place where we want to live." Trees, as research is just now discovering, have a nonhuman consciousness; the ability experience the world around them and can show us things that have, previously, long been taken for granted. Trees can show humans how they not only make the world a nicer place for all of us, but also how they even make life possible!
Interestly enough, Wohlleben begane his career as a forester and that warped his perception of trees. To him, they were smply a commodity. Then, about twenty years ago, everything changed for him when he began survival training and log cabin tours for tourists in his forest. These strangers saw the magestry of the trees that he had seen only in terms of dollars and cents. Their awe, as they gazed upon the trees and the endless sky above, reawakened his early childhood love of nature. He began to see the wonderment of all that lay before him. He said, "Every day in the forest was a day of discovery. When you know, and understand, that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines." He also discovered that trees that have been felled 400-500 years before was still alive even though the interior had rotted into humus many, many years ago.
Scientists have found that neighboring trees help each other through their root systems. This happens directly, through the intertwining of their roots, or indirectly by "growing a fungal network around the roots that serve as a sort of extended nervous system connecting separate trees." WhaT I learned that was even more astonishing, was that trees seem able to distinquish their own roots from tose of other species...and even those of their own relatives!
Trees are social beings, says Wohlleben, sharing food with their own species and even going so far as to nourish their competitiors. Do trees have empathy? It almost seems as if they do. Trees, unlike many other species, have learned the value of working together to become stronger and ensure survival. But a tree does not make a forest. A single tree cannot establish a "consistent local climate. it is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a greate deal of humidity." In this protected environment, trees can live to be very old, indeed.
There is much more to this fascinating, insightful, and though-provoking book but I will let you discover it for yourself. I don't know about you, but I feel alike going out and hugging a tree today....