Posted on April 21, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
Have you ever considered what life is like for trees in a forest? We know, of course, that tree live and follow a life cycle—but our imagination usually stops there. If we think past these well-known scientific realities and perceive trees more intuitively, we may come to think of them the way German forester Peter Wohlleben does. In his surprise bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World, Wohlleben describes trees in very human terms, making it hard not to relate to trees, to feel that they are not so different from ourselves.
Describing a cluster of birch trees, Wohlleben remarks that the trees are “friends.” One can tell this because their branches angle away from each other, which prevents one tree from blocking vital sunlight from his “buddy.” Indeed, Wohlleben contends, trees are social, and they become stronger and more resilient when they’re a part of a social network. When trees are in close proximity to one another, they can nurse sick neighbors and even alert one another to potential threats by sending electrical signals through a fungal network, i.e., the “Wood Wide Web.”
Although Wohlleben has been criticized for describing the life of trees in such anthropomorphic terms, the big-hearted forester explains that his humanizing of the forest is intentional—it makes the beauty and value of nature accessible to everyone: “Scientific language removes all the emotion, and people don’t understand it anymore. When I say, ‘Trees suckle their children,’ everyone knows immediately what I mean.”
Wohlleben’s life’s work isn’t just about writing moving words, however. He has spent decades working in the forests of Germany, discovering the best ways to cultivate healthy trees woods with profitable offerings of woods well as highly-valued natural beauty. As it turns out, the best way to grow trees goes against commonly held conventions of forestry. As Wohlleben's career demonstrates, artificially spaced out trees simply do not thrive the way trees that have been allowed to grow wildly (and without the use of chemicals) do.
In other words, when it come to tree cultivation, natural is best for everyone involved--including the trees.
The complex beauty of trees is the inspiration behind the Barbara Michelle Jacobs sprig and twig bands. Don’t worry, no trees were harmed in the process of making these rings. Any natural elements used in direct casting were found on the ground in New York City’s Central Park.
How has nature inspired you?
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