Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

May 4, 2021
Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changedhow people view trees and their connections to one another and toother living things in the forest--a moving, deeply personaljourney of discoverySuzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plantcommunication and intelligence; she's been compared to RachelCarson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideasin a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influencedfilmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron's Avatar) and herTED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million peopleworldwide.Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, theintimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminatesthe fascinating and vital truths--that trees are not simply thesource of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependentcircle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creaturesconnected through underground networks by which trees communicatetheir vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not thatdifferent from our own.Simard writes--in inspiring, illuminating, and accessibleways--how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, haveevolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt theirbehaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how theyhave agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses,compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication,characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are theessence of civil societies--and at the center of it all, the MotherTrees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain theothers that surround them.Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a loggingworld in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as achild spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she cameto love and respect them--embarking on a journey of discovery, andstruggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes ofher own journey--of love and loss, of observation and change, ofrisk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientificinquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is aboutunderstanding who we are and our place in the world, and, inwriting of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness ofthe Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways thatfamilies and human societies do, and how these inseparable bondsenable all our survival.