The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries From a Secret World Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
A forester's fascinating stories backed by the latest scientific research illustrate how trees nurture and talk to each other. Are trees social beings?
In this international best seller - which has sold more than 320,000 copies in Germany alone - 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 he has observed in his woodland. After you have heard The Hidden Life of Trees, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 34 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||13 September 2016|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 399 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
1 in Nature Writing & Essays
1 in Forests & Forestry (Books)
1 in Ecosystems & Habitats (Audible Books & Originals)
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Reviewed in Australia on 1 October 2018
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By Susanna Lynley on 1 October 2018
This should be part of the biology curriculum.
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Peter Wohlleben has worked with trees for years, mostly in Germany, and is convinced that they exhibit behaviours far more complex than we usually reckon, behaviours that we normally associate with higher animals and birds than with plants. He describes how they communicate, both chemically through scent and electrically via their root systems and fungal symbiotes. They can also support each other in times of hardship and old age, count daylight hours, perceive environmental changes and opportunities, and remember important facts in order to shape future actions. It all makes for fascinating reading, and the material is well worth exploring.
What also came home to me was how little we know about the life of trees, largely because the timescale they live on is so slow compared to ours. But another factor which Peter highlights many times is that many of us never meet a tree in its natural state - as one part in a naturally regulated and extensive forest. Isolated trees, or those in small stands, or those living in managed woodland, are all constrained to live unnatural lives, so their growth and actions are as distorted from natural as ours would be if we were kept away from human company as we grew up. It's a rather sobering thought, that our typical treatment of trees might easily be considered cruelty.
Peter also highlights areas where our grasp of ordinary tree biology is very weak. It is common knowledge that trees draw water and nutrients out of the soil using their roots, and deliver it to their leaves and growing shoots - for some trees this is a journey of tens, or even a couple of hundred feet. It comes as a surprise to read that we don't actually know how they do this, and that the normal explanations of osmosis, capillary action, or transpiration cannot possibly account for the heights reached.
One of the most vivid parts was Peter's attempt to get to linguistic grips with the slowness of the life cycles of trees. He describes very effectively the grand migrations of forests south and north as the ice ages have come and gone, and the stages by which newly available soil is occupied first by the little plants, then by comparatively fast outlier trees, and finally by the true forests. On this timescale, some kinds of trees help one another and grow together, while others hinder and displace each other. It would make a good game, perhaps, as well as a good read, in which environmental and other external changes drive constant accommodation and negotiation.
I mentioned two things that put me off the book. The first is the writing style, which for the first half is quite pedestrian. I fully appreciate that Peter may not be writing in his native language, and the wealth of ideas kept me persevering when the writing was dull - perhaps it would have been good to have employed a co-writer to help. The second was that I would have really liked some speculation about causes, in the many areas where we don't know for sure. Peter seems committed to writing only what he is confident can be tied to evidence - which is a worthy goal in itself - but given his great experience in the field, I would have liked it more if he had included his guesses, intuitions, and suppositions.
All things considered, though, The Hidden Life of Trees is a fascinating book to delve into, perhaps as a starting point for other reading.
One of those books which in a subtle way alters your perception of reality and deepens your understanding of nature and thus of humanity itself.
Profound without any attempt to be so.
I wish I had read this when I was younger.