Are trees social beings? In this international bestseller, 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 read The Hidden Life of Trees, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.
Winner, 2017 American Booksellers Association Indies Choice Book Award for Nonfiction
Shortlisted, 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards
‘Opening this book, you are about to enter a wonderland.’ —Tim Flannery, author of Atmosphere of Hope and The Weather Makers
‘Charming, provocative, fascinating.’ —David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen, Pulitzer finalist
‘Wohlleben might be an incarnation of the Lorax, that mythical Seussian creature who speaks for the trees. But he speaks, too, for a host of researchers worldwide, bringing their findings to a wider audience with passion and generosity.’ —Ashley Hay, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees breaks entirely new ground, and John Evelyn would have been delighted with his discoveries …’ —Thomas Pakenham, New York Review of Books
‘Scientific research … underpins all his vivid descriptions … in Wohlleben’s analysis, it’s almost as if trees have feelings and character.’ – Tim Lusher, Guardian Australia
‘Chattily engaging … its quips and contagious puns invite the reader into the minutiae of trees’ lives.’ —Felicity Plunkett, Weekend Australia
‘You cannot read this book and walk through the bush the same way again. It changes your thinking forever.’ —Kathleen Noonan, Courier Mail
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
There’s always the hope that a book will change the way we view the world. The Hidden Life of Trees succeeds, making you reconsider everything from mushrooms to friendship to, yes, trees. German scientist Peter Wohlleben used to evaluate the market value of beeches and oaks for lumber companies. Today, he advocates for the protection of primeval woodlands. In this book—a bestseller in Germany, with 19 translations in the works—he makes the case that trees are like people, with feelings, ambitions, and rules of etiquette. Wohlleben suggests humans would be wise to emulate their leafy neighbours, who live cooperatively and thrive when helping other trees survive.
This fascinating book will intrigue readers who love a walk through the woods. Wohlleben, who worked for the German forestry commission for 20 years and now manages a beech forest in Germany, has gathered research from scientists around the world examining how trees communicate and interact with one another. They do so using a variety of methods, including the secretion of scents and sound vibrations to warn neighboring plants of potential attacks by insects and hungry herbivores, drought, and other dangers. The book includes a note from forest scientist Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia, whose studies showed that entire forests can be connected by "using chemical signals sent through the fungal networks around their root tips" and led to the term "the wood-wide web." Wohlleben anthropomorphizes his subject, using such terms as friendship and parenting, which serves to make the technical information relatable, and he backs up his ideas with information from scientists. He even tackles the question of whether trees are intelligent. He hopes the day will come "when the language of trees will eventually be deciphered." Until then, Wohllenben's book offers readers a vivid glimpse into their secret world.