Book Review: The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben

Image of the book The Hidden Life of trees on a White Pine branch

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World, by Peter Wohlleben Rating: 🌳🌳🌳🌳/5 Trees Genres: Non-Fiction, Forestry, Ecology, Conservation One thing is for sure: you will never look at trees the same way again after reading this book. Peter Wohlleben, a former forester, describes the drama of centuries-old forests in a way that is both approachable and enjoyable. Who knew 500-year-old trees could be so entertaining? Wohlleben knew, and you will too. Wohlleben paints a picture of dense forests where trees not only grow close to one another, but also actively communicate with each other. They form tight-knit communities that send electric signals through their extensively interwoven root systems and disperse scented pheromones into the air. These lines of communication allow trees to warn others of danger or lend their struggling neighbors extra nutrients and water. Left to their own devices, old-growth forests create their own ecologies and can withstand even the harshest weather fluctuations as long as they work together. Small dramas play out in the natural cycle of death and rebirth, but overall the forest’s longevity can be attributed to the social network they have created. Wohlleben’s book may read like a family drama, but it is firmly based in science. I was originally concerned that his claims come from a desire to anthropomorphize what he doesn’t fully understand, but everything is backed by scientific data. That isn’t to say that science has everything figured out. Wohlleben acknowledges that there is still so much more that we don’t yet understand about trees. One drawback is that this book is occasionally repetitive, and much like the title it often uses more words than necessary. Despite this, Wohlleben presents a compelling narrative that will completely change your perspective on trees, and for this reason we highly recommend The Hidden Life of Trees. The Hidden Life of Trees, which advocates for the conservation and restoration of old-growth forests, puts its money where its mouth is and proudly declares, “Printed and bound in Canada on ancient-forest-friendly paper.”

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