This book is written by a forestry manager in Germany. He is involved in protecting and studying old-growth forests. The details in this volume surprised me at every turn. The interconnected relationships between trees and the mycorrhizal fungi, insects, birds, mammals and other plants around them is a lot more complex than I had realized. Trees compete with other species, but sometimes enter into beneficial relationships where one kind of tree supports another when conditions are favorable to it, and vice versa. Adult trees nurture their children- only one of which will usually survive to replace it. Trees create their own microclimate, and benefit from living in groups- a solitary tree is often stressed and unhealthy. They share nutrients and water through their network- and in one case the author quotes, a group of trees died when one in the center was struck by lightening- those up to fifty feet away were also affected. Some of the ideas in this book seem a little speculative to me- that the sounds caused by resonance in hollow trunks when they are dying of thirst is the trees screaming, for one. Studies do show that trees (and other plants) communicate dangers to their neighbors via chemical signals, and that the root systems of trees appear to have a “memory” or ability to learn- they definitely respond to stimuli. It\’s all very interesting and makes me wonder what new discoveries are down the line- if we can keep our hands off and let the older forests continue to grow. Trees do much better left to their own devices than when managed by people, it appears. And their lives are far more lengthy than I knew- saplings my height are probably forty or fifty years old, which is just out of kindergarten stage for a tree… it reminds me of many things I read in Thoreau’s book about his observations on trees and other forest life. For sure makes you look at the trees around you in a different light.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 4/5 272 pages, 2015