The Hidden Life of Trees

Greystone. Sept. 2016. 288p. illus. notes. ISBN 9781771642484. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781771642491. SCI
After a lifetime managing and studying forests in his native Germany, Wohlleben shares his distinct perspective on trees in this heartfelt homage. He traces the life cycles of typical trees in central European forests, combining his personal observations with elements of folkloric wisdom and the latest scientific research. In a touch of whimsy, the author likens plant behavior to familiar aspects of human actions: tree species nourishing members of the younger generation by feeding them soil nutrients are tree "mothers"; individual trees that protect and communicate with one another via a rich underground network have formed "friendships"; and urban trees growing up miles from traditional forests are dubbed "street kids." Wohlleben laments the many failings of traditional forest management practices, arguing that patience and ecological balance are essential to maximizing trees' beneficial role in the global ecosystem. In this spirited exploration, he guarantees that readers will never look at these life forms in quite the same way again.
VERDICT Those with some background in biology or ecology will be best positioned to glean insight here, but even general readers will gain a rich appreciation of a forest's dynamism.
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