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A NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, AND WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER - One of the most beloved books of our time: an illuminating account of the forest, and the science that shows us how trees communicate, feel, and live in social networks. After reading this book, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.
"Breaks entirely new ground ... Peter Wohlleben] has listened to trees and decoded their language. Now he speaks for them."--The New York Review of Books
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BRAINPICKINGS - HONORABLE MENTION: SEJ Rachel Carson Environment Book Award - Shortlisted: Audible International Book of the Year Award - Books For a Better Life Award - Indie Choice Award--Nonfiction Book of the Year
Are trees social beings? In The Hidden Life of Trees forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration that he has observed in his woodland.
"A declaration of love and an engrossing primer on trees, brimming with facts and an unashamed awe for nature."--Washington Post
"Heavily dusted with the glitter of wonderment."--The New Yorker
Includes a Note From a Forest Scientist by Dr.Suzanne Simard
Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute
- ISBN-13: 9781771642484
- ISBN-10: 1771642483
- Publisher: Greystone Books
- Publish Date: September 2016
- Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
- Page Count: 288
How trees talk—and we can listen
BookPage Top Pick in Nonfiction, September 2016
Already a runaway bestseller in the author’s native Germany, The Hidden Life of Trees now offers English-language readers a compelling look at the “secret world” of the forest. Peter Wohlleben, a forester, documents his conversion from lumber producer to tree whisperer, and in the process he reveals the highly communicative social networks of trees.
Wohlleben notes that as humans, we have been more inclined to identify with animals than plants: We recognize a kinship across species when we notice that monkeys indulge in social grooming rituals, or that elephants mourn their dead. Using the language of anthropomorphism, Wohlleben seeks to persuade us that trees too are social beings, in constant communication with one another, caring for their sick and nursing their young. He wants us to recognize our kinship with trees so we’ll be encouraged to preserve their ecosystems more readily.
Trees “speak” to one another through scent, as African acacia trees do when giraffes begin feeding off of them. The acacias being eaten send out a warning scent, which alerts other nearby acacias to produce the bitter toxin that will dissuade the giraffes from eating their leaves. Trees also communicate through a vast fungal network twined around their roots, which transmit electrical signals and chemical compounds. Through this “Wood Wide Web,” forests are truly an interconnected ecosystem—as Wohlleben demonstrates, trees in a community will send healing sugars to the roots of weak or ill trees, and some forests will keep the stumps of their elders alive long after their trunks and branches have disintegrated.
In part, Wohlleben wants to demonstrate how centuries of forestry have harmed trees, especially the practice of thinning out trees, which keeps them from establishing healthy underground communication lines. But even more, he wants to enchant readers into taking a walk in the woods and listening to the trees themselves.
This article was originally published in the September 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.