La Vie secrète des arbres: Edition illustrée By Peter Wohlleben

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    Les citadins regardent les arbres comme des « robots biolo­giques » conçus pour produire de l’oxygène et de bois. Forestier, Peter Wohlleben a ravi ses lecteurs avec des informations attes­tées par les biologistes depuis des années, notamment le fait que les arbres sont des êtres sociaux.
    Ils peuvent compter, apprendre et mémoriser, se comporter en infirmiers pour les voisins malades. Ils avertissent d’un danger en envoyant des signaux à travers un réseau de champignons appelé ironiquement « Bois Wide Web ». Pour des raisons incon­nues, ils gardent les anciennes souches de compagnons abattus vivants depuis des siècles en les nourrissant avec une solution de sucre par leurs racines... La Vie secrète des arbres: Edition illustrée

    “When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with larger machines.”

    This is an extremely emotive book and it does wonders at humanising trees and making them seem ever more real, fascinating and valuable.

    It has a strong environmentalist message, one that seeks to install within the reader a renewed sense of value for the world around them and the trees we share the Earth with. It's a book that wants you to think about your actions and to consider that there is a world that is not necessarily perceptible to the human senses, but it is a world we should acknowledge nevertheless.

    I love the message behind the work even if it defeats itself in the final chapter when it states that trees are a commodity. We should respect them, but use them still. And this is an idea I don't like. It needs to be more than respect and cultivation but a way of coexisting and making our urban spaces more green and natural.

    Overall, it's a very well written book but one that does become a little dry after a while and shoots itself in the foot.

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    __________________________________ 9782352046790 “An organism that is too greedy and takes too much without giving anything in return destroys what it needs for life.”
    ― Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees



    Peter Wohlleben has written a beautiful book on trees. He captures the imagination and translates his vision well. Like many science books for the masses he takes a good deal of information and distills it well for the amateur forester and part-time tree-hugger. The only reason I give this book four stars and not five is because his biggest strength is also, perhaps, his biggest (or most important) weakness.

    I worry about the anthropomorphizing of animals, fungus, or plant. It is a strength because it creates empathy. It works. I read that a tree might feel pain, communicates, nutures its young, takes care of the sick, works together, counts, etc., and I am (hopefully, if I have any empathy in me) feel a bit more hesitant to abuse or misuse trees.

    BUT, my concern with this type of treatment is two fold: 1) trees aren't human. By focusing on the parts of trees (or forests) that appear to have human traits, we are putting ourselves at the center. We are creating (or strengthening the notion rather) that WE are the freaking center of the living universe. Those trees they are important because they LOOK/ACT like us. It is a slippery slope. Do the benefits outweigh the costs in the short or long term? I don't know. I just know there is a danger here. 2) perhaps, by giving these behaviors (communication, counting, etc) words that have a very significant meaning for man, we are actually NOT communicating what they are doing that is unique. Maybe communication or counting or nurturing ISN'T what they are doing and these human behavior metaphors are not allowing these amazing trees to be viewed as amazing AND alien enough. This isn't the same, but it for me is similar to comparing fungi to plants. Yes, there might be similarities, but these are two completely separate kingdoms. Sometimes, we can mix them together (in a salad perhaps), but some metaphors don't do justice to just how funky and beautiful and DIFFERENT these kingdoms really are. Perhaps, by making trees seem more human we are doing a long-term disservice by NOT making them seem alien enough.

    And, perhap, I'm just wrong. I'm willing to accept that too.

    Oh, and this is just Part I of Wohlleben's 'The Mysteries of Nature trilogy'. The follow-up books are:

    2. The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief, and Compassion: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World - my review
    3. The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things ― Stories from Science and Observation - my review 9782352046790 Peter Wohlleben has written a wonderful little book about trees. He is a forester; he manages a forest in Germany. He must do a wonderful job, as he has amazing insights into the life of trees and tree society.

    Did I say society? Yes, trees communicate with each other, nurture their young, and aid the ill when disease or distress strikes. Does this sound unlikely? Well, it sounded a bit over-the-top to me, until I started reading this book. Forests are superorganisms that exchange nutrients through inter-connected root systems. They are a bit analogous to ant colonies. Wohlleben cites evidence of a 400 year-old beech tree that was actually being kept alive by neighboring beech trees!

    Acacia trees warn other nearby trees of giraffes who are feeding on them. As a result, the pre-warned trees pump toxic substances into their leaves within a period of a few minutes, causing the giraffes to leave the area. The giraffes walked 100 yards away, bypassing nearby trees before continuing to feed. They chewed on trees that were either oblivious to the warnings, or they walked upwind. These warnings are sent using electrical impulses that travel 1/3rd of an inch per second. These impulses are propagated along filaments of fungi.

    When trees sense insects eating their leaves, the trees can classify their saliva. Then they release pheromones that summon specific insect predators. So, it seems that trees actually have a sense of taste.

    I learned how older, mature trees nurture their young. Their enormous canopies shut out most of the light from the shorter trees, preventing the young ones from growing too fast. This enables the young trees to grow strong, dense wood that will eventually, in a hundred or two hundred years, to grow big and strong themselves. However, in forests that are overly managed, some of the bigger trees are culled, allowing the smaller trees to grow too fast. Then they never reach their potential height as they age.

    I learned why conifer trees grow needles and are evergreen, while deciduous trees shed their leaves each fall. It would almost seem like conifers are smart, as they do not waste energy growing new leaves each spring. But there is a reason for all this. Evergreens grow needles that are shed only once every few years. Each fall the needles develop a waxy covering that impedes evaporation over the winter. The needles have very little surface area for catching the wind and snow. Deciduous leaves, however, do catch the wind, and are a handicap during storms and snowfalls. They are dropped in the fall to prevent the trees from bending and breaking in a big wind-storm or under a heavy layer of snow.

    This book was originally written in German and translated into English; the translation is excellent. The book is not only informative, but is fun to read. Wohlleben makes analogies between trees and animals, and these analogies help shed insight into the slow, ancient life of trees. The book is not written in a humorous tone; it is written in a wonderful down-to-earth style. Although Wohlleben is not a scientist, he discusses the latest research and it is a joy to learn about his points of view. 9782352046790 Tolkien was right. Trees live in the sloooooow lane (imagine healing a skin wound over decades) but what lives they lead! They have incredible social networks, share food, rear children, and care for the ill. Yes, there's some anthropomorphization here, but still...

    When evolution has figured out how to tell time and talk to one another, you wish the trees could also talk to us and tell their stories. Peter Wohlleben has come pretty close to speaking for them and I will never look at trees the same again.

    Or Ents. 9782352046790 You can read this for the science or, like me, for how it helped me see. We are always in need of books that part the curtains of the familiar, the stuff we walk around and take for granted. In this case trees, all around us, the beings who help us breathe. It turns out they compete and cooperate and communicate, they form alliances and have processes that we are hard call to name so we must resort to words like grief and love. If you are non-scientific like me, or even if you are, you will be thankful for the seeing. You will see better. It will start with trees - you'll notice the wrinkles in their bark, the wounds made by woodpeckers who cleansed them of insects but not without pain. You will notice how a pear tree curved sideways to give more light to the cherry tree, which a clumsy gardener planted too close together. What you will see is life, all around you. You will be startled with how much life there is and maybe even be amazed at your own spark, a tiny but real part of the whole. I also liked entering into a different time consciousness- the time that trees inhabit. If you were an oak and not in danger of being cut down you'd be looking forward to finally being a toddler a hundred years from now, a teenager without parental restraints in a mere two hundred. Each year a miniature life with deaths and births. It is okay to go slow. This year I'll grow a half an inch. But oh, how good it is to feel being alive and to make little more life for others. 9782352046790

    Peter Wohlleben à 8 download

    As humans, daft creatures that we are, we are predisposed to look at where the action is. Swift movements, loud noises and bright colours capture our attention. Maybe this stems from our primitive instinct for survival, allowing us to spot the dangers darting in our general direction. Or it could be the result of our desire to procreate that can't make us look past flaunted flesh and luscious lips. Whatever the reasons, at some point we have begun to think in terms of foreground and background. The former is where the action is, the latter a necessary formality because the void would be too depressing an environment.

    During short lapses of my otherwise well-founded modesty I like to think of myself as something other than an utter idiot. In doing so I tend to refer to my habits of reading, writing, cogitating and looking at backgrounds. It's one of the ways to make scrolling through tedious travel pictures slightly more interesting. If a movie's dialogue doesn't ignite my interest, I find enjoyment in looking at the B-actors located in the background of the scene, pretending to go about their daily business, assuming they will remain unseen unless for when they'll point themselves out to friends and family. My smartphone camera comes with a focus that easily jumps in between the different layers of the hubbub I point it towards, making the scenery rich with potential for anecdote and diminishing the borders between foreground and background to a triviality. As someone who appreciates all that I allowed myself to think I was more than just a casual observer.

    A dreamy bubble that is now duly burst. One of the many things that Peter Wohlleben's book has taught me is that a lot of phenomena escape my flittering attention as I skip and skedaddle through life. The trees are such a phenomenon. A majestic backdrop to many of my sweetest memories, yet never given the notice they were due.

    Our world is full of magical places. These can be found on the ocean's vigorous waves, on a tranquil mountain top or in a lover's embrace. One other such place is under the canopy of trees. In their mystic shade of earthy green some people reach enlightenment, others find fundamental scientific truths and many discover peace. Troubled heads are cleared as they rest on ancient trunks and laden hearts are lightened by the sound of rustling leaves. Why are we not in constant awe for these beings of wonder that should be worthy of worship?

    People now will often mock that notion, hacking and slashing their way to prosperity with no regard for the beings that have been here millions of years. Or to recall the way Treebeard put it very emphatically when talking about Orks:

    They come with fire. They come with axes. Gnawing, biting, breaking hacking burning. Destroyers and usurpers, curse them!

    Wohlleben's book The Hidden Life of Trees worked the same way for me as the focus changer does for my camera. This book inaugurated a new sensibility that feels purposeful and asks to be deeply understood. The way I looked at the world and the way I looked at my memories had been tainted by a particular and exclusive interest for human affairs. Wohlleben put the splendour of trees in a sharp and welcome focus, opening my eyes as they welled up with remorseful tears. My perspective changed, and now an everyday city scenery has become a concrete concentration camp for trees forced to live in isolation, cut off from their potential and cut down to serve cityscaping needs.

    One redeeming factor is of course the knowledge that trees don't feel. How sweetly we sleep in the comfort of that intuition. Unfortunately, Wohlleben puts some question marks next to that soothing notion.

    This author's narration couldn't have been more convincing and captivating and the fact that I automatically read it with David Attenborough's voice in mind can serve to stress that point. The trees become both actors and center stage in this epic tale of survival against all odds. Their struggle for an inner balance as they grow, mend their wounds, spread their roots and branches, drop their leaves, drink the water and capture the sunlight makes for a truly engaging read. The race between a fungus eating its way to the heartwood and a tree growing healthy bark and moist material to stop the enemy in its tracks is more thrilling than a car chase, despite the impression that the timescale on which trees live make such matters less pressing. Yet they are pressing, and a matter of life and death. A tree can spend hundreds of years on its death bed but still serve a purpose, procreate and provide energy for its siblings and offspring. And when reading about this struggle for survival and growth, I could not help but discern a will for life that stirred within these entities.

    It's not just the trees that are the protagonists of this book, but also the tiny creatures that live on and around them. I've mentioned the fungi with which they have a love-hate relationship. Trees are also in what one might call a complicated relationship with small rodents, birds and insects, who sometimes help them in the dissemination of their seeds but can also wound them fatally. When caterpillars attack, reinforcements are called in with aromatic signals to deal with them. Ants are running their own brand of livestock farms as they herd aphids for the sugarry residues they leave behind when they feed off the leaves. The book is chock-full of such anecdotes that show us how trees are in fact megacities teeming with life.

    The biggest reveal came quite early in this book: trees communicate. As an introvert I didn't find that piece of information especially salient, but it does show that more goes on in the deep forests than a mere survival of the fittest. Trees often work together as a community, protecting and supporting each other, sending each other signals and goods. They use a wood wide web of roots and fungal chords that allow the transportation of nutrients from one tree to the other. They produce scents that get picked up by their cousins urging them to put up protective barriers before the enemy arrives.

    At the start of this book I had some severe difficulties accepting that the author would bestow certain qualities on trees that they couldn't possibly have, such as the capacity to feel, know, remember and be happy. Even after reading the book I have to admit this sometimes feels like a stretch, but that's really not the message one should remember from this review. The fact of the matter is that we don't know how far the sentience of these beings reaches. The latest scientific observations at least hint at the possibility that this author, which some might consider little more than a romantic treehugger, could be on to something.

    Even if trees don't feel like how we do, the realisation that trees are the hands that have been feeding us for many years should at least be a lesson in humility and inspire us to stop gnawing at them. Trees don't only provide us with the oxygen we breathe but serve many other vital purposes enumerated in this book, ranging from biodiversity to inland water supply. It's not just a matter of cutting down old trees and planting new ones, either. Balance is key, and such a balance can only occur on a timescale we can hardly grasp.

    The trees that provided the pages for this book are the prophets of their kind, emissaries of a lifeform we've been neglecting. So don't feel guilty about getting a hard copy. Pick one up, go sit under a tree if you can still find one, read it and look up to a new world. 9782352046790 I do recommend reading this book, even though I have given it only two stars! Remember two stars is a book that is OK! Read it for the new and interesting information it contains.

    The book reports up-to-date information about the complex, symbiotic networks underlying communication between trees. It stresses that trees should be seen not as separate entities but rather as parts of a community where individuals are aware of their neighbors, relate to them, communicate with them and help each other survive. Absorbing information about particular tree species, plants, fungi, insects and birds is provided. Anyone who appreciates nature, anyone who quite simply enjoys a walk in the woods, will find tidbits of interest.

    So what was wrong?

    The writing all too often lacks clarity. Ecological and natural processes were not clearly explained. I would follow an argument and not understand why a particular conclusion was drawn. I would see other alternative explanations. One example is the discussion of the respective amounts of CO² stored by young respective old trees. We are told that plants of the same species living in the same soil and under the same conditions do not act in the same manner. An example is given of three oaks that dropped their leaves at different times. What we are told is that this was an “individual choice, a question of character.” Ah huh……..no more explanation than that?! Later in the book it is said that plants of the same species often have widely different genetic composition. (It is interesting to note that the variation is much more limited in animals.) Anyhow, this must be the explanation but this is just my guess. It should have been explained more clearly.

    Conclusions drawn should more often have been backed up with reference to particular scientific studies.

    The writing reeks of anthropomorphic expressions. This became extremely annoying. It made the entire content of the book feel childish. Yet this is not a book for children; previous knowledge of plant processes is a prerequisite. I will give some examples. Beech trees are referred to as Beech & Co., Spruce as Spruce & Co. Perhaps this is amusing once, but not ten times. “Ouch” is interspersed frequently - when discussing a lesion in bark, the loss of a tree limb, a hit by lightning or any damage done to a tree. The upper branches of trees are called “the executive offices”. “Foolish trees” are said to have not obeyed the “tree etiquette manual”. A volcanic eruption is “the shuffling of cards in the game of life.” We read sentences such as, “If we think back to tree kindergarten……” Maybe it is me, but this type of writing switches the book from being a scientific book of merit to a book of farce. This is a shame. Let me repeat, the book has valuable content.

    The content is poorly organized. Similar information is repeated in different chapters. The chapters are exceedingly short with ambiguous titles. Here are examples of titles: Let There Be Light, Street Kids, Burnout andDestination North. On completing a chapter you are left wondering what exactly had been the point of the chapter! What was its message? While there is definitely interesting information it is hard to absorb due to it being poorly organized.

    Beside the main themes, what miscellaneous information caught my attention? How woodpeckers make their homes in trees, working on several at the same time and in conjunction with fungi. The parasitic plant mistletoe can kill a tree, but moss and algae aren’t usually dangerous. It is normal that you don’t hear lots of birdsong in forests. The value of and conditions found in “old growth forests” were interesting, as well as how long it takes to establish such forests and how they differ from commercial forests. Leaving fallen trees is important - they make it harder for herbivore to consume undergrowth and they are home to a multitude of beneficial insects. This is just a smattering of assorted information. Each person reading the book will find different points of interest. I don’t regret reading the book, but its organization, and the author’s way of expressing himself could certainly have been improved.

    The audiobook narration by Mike Grady was clear and easy to follow. The German words are accurately pronounced.

    The author is a German forestry manager, writing on ecological themes. The book closes with a note by Susanne Simard. She is a forest ecologist. She has worked more than thirty years in the field and is currently doing scientific studies such as those discussed in the book. She is at the University of British Colombia in Canada. Her research confirms most of Wohlleben's observations about the communication among trees. 9782352046790 3.75★ If a tree falls in the forest there are other trees listening.

    The first time I fell hard for a tree was in the Sequoia National Forest standing at the base of General Sherman. I was always a treehugger in my head but at that moment I was literally a treehugger. If you’ve never gazed up at one of the giants you are missing out on one of the earth’s wonders.

    [I don’t know these people but it was wiser to post their picture than mine because it’s not legal to step over that barrier and get so up close and personal—though after reading this book I’m wondering how the General felt about it. We’re talking a Jack and the Beanstalk moment here.]

    Back in the hippie days I knew people who talked to their plants, played classical music for them, and claimed there was a silent scream while trimming them back. Apparently these same compassionate people suffered no remorse when they smoked them, nor did I, but I digress so let’s move on.
    So I couldn’t resist reading this after watching a fascinating PBS program called What Plants Talk About. Who knew there really is a “wood wide web” in which trees, shrubs, and grasses exchange information. My hippie friends apparently did—it wasn’t the THC after all!
    I’m wondering if I should re-shelve Shel Silverstein’s book to the non-fiction section.

    I know, I’ve told you nothing about the book because of these flashbacks but isn’t it wonderful when books mess with your head? If you love the natural world there really is some compelling information within and it was easy to digest a few chapters at a time. The sometimes anthropomorphic language may bother the non-treehuggers but it’s understandable that the author did his best to make it accessible for those who might be botany-challenged. The writing style is sometimes repetitive and simplistic and much of this is pure ecology. He champions old growth forests (dear to my heart) and throws in interesting tidbits like the scientific discovery of the improvement in women’s blood pressure, lung capacity, and arterial elasticity while walking in the forest versus excursions into town. His book claimed I would never see trees the same again and that is truth. But even before I read this I've always talked to mine when they blossom and later caress the globes of fruit ripening in the sun. I tell them how beautiful they are and darned if they don’t give me peaches, nectarines, and plums to die for every year. I also voted to legalize marijuana which no longer interests me because of W.I.N.E. Those grapes are a gift and harvesting doesn’t hurt the vines, i.e., no silent screams—win(e) win(e). 9782352046790 Q: Trees are very social beings, and they help each other out. (c)

    If even 10% of this is true, we live in a mode diverse world than we ever imagined.

    Wood-wide-webs, allowing social interation between trees.
    Trees in friendship, feeding, hugging and warning each other.
    Trees having sense of taste and smell, talking to each other via sound waves of particular wavelengths.
    Tree lottery.... Forest etiquette... Only a true lover of all things natural could have come up with such poetic topics to discuss!

    Q:
    Planted forests ... behave more like street kids. (c)
    Q:
    A tree can only be as strong as the forest that surrounds it (c)
    Q:
    The trees might be screaming out a dire warning to their colleagues that water levels are running low. (c)
    Q:
    I have learned from this just how powerful a community of trees can be (c) 9782352046790 Nature is a strict teacher.

    I found The Hidden Life of Trees on the philosophy shelf in a bookshop I frequently visit. Given the title, I assumed the book must be an unique read. However, once started, it became clear that most of the content had an environmental science influence. Still, I decided to give the book a try to see if how it'll turn out. And now that I'm done, I'm not sorry about the time I spent. First quarter of the book was enlightening for me in many ways, for, I had almost zero knowledge in this area.

    Whether it's a wolf ripping apart a wild boar or a dear eating an oak seedling, in both cases there is pain and death.

    Author has categorized the contents under a series of interesting titles, and each chapter clearly describes the reasons behind the presented schools of thought. Very clear examples describes most of the concepts, so that any reader could easily understand the principles. However, for me, once passed the first third of the book, some of the contents seemed a bit repetitive, and appeared a little too speculative at times. For someone who is deeply familiar with the subject, as the author himself does, those might be easier to grasp/ believe. But the average reader might look at things somewhat skeptically. Still, what I did understand, certainly changed the way I look at Trees (and Forests) in a more profound way than I thought possible, and gave me huge boost to the respect I already had towards the silent giants.

    So many questions remain unanswered. Perhaps we are poorer for having lost a possible explanation or richer for having gained a mystery. But aren't both possibilities equally intriguing? 9782352046790