Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads

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#StevesLibrary: The Hidden Life of Trees

I recently read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and generally thought it was a engaging read. In the book, Wohlleben shares his deep love and knowledge of forests drawing on decades of experience working within German forestry. During this written exploration, the reader is informed of groundbreaking new research that explains the intricate processes within the forest such as those of life, death, and regeneration. It is very clear after reading the book that trees are far more complex than most people think and there is still quite a lot to learn about them and how they function.

Wohlleben anthropomorphises trees in terms of their communication and family living arrangements. Trees help to support each other as they grow, when they grow sick and in terms of regulating the environment. Due to these interactions, trees that live in a ‘family’ (or more correctly a community) are usually mitigated from extremes and can therefore live to be very old. In contrast, solitary trees such as those planted in the middle of parks or along streets have a hard time and are more likely to die.

Despite these discoveries and an empathetic narrative, Wohlleben presents the arguments in a way more suitable to those of a layperson than a fellow scientific researcher. Unfortunately the ecological and natural processes behind aren’t clearly explained in enough detail. In my mind, it would be a far better book if these were explained especially when it came to claims that trees had their own personalities around when trees drop their leaves. In all, I’d thoroughly recommend the to anyone but be prepared to go away and do some follow-up reading. Enjoy!

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