You have probably felt that when you are nervous, you can take a walk in the park, and it will give you calmness, healing, and refreshment. The forest isn’t just a compilation of trees; it is something much more. Maybe we cannot notice, but many things are happening.
Suzanne Simard, an ecologist, in her TED says that the trees communicate between them and have a social network going on. She claims that there are some enormous figures of biological pathways that link the trees, providing them a way of communication. With these benefits, the forest can behave like it is a single organism.
Suzanne has examined the Canadian forests for more than thirty years, and she concluded something amazing. The conclusion revealed that the trees communicate with each other, no matter how far they are positioned. They are amazingly social, and they rely on each other for survival. They share water and the needed nutrients.
Because she has grown up in the fantastic forests of British Columbia, the ecologist adored to lie down on the ground in the woods and observe the giant trees. She revealed what has been happening underground when an incident with her dog occurred.
Her dog fell into the outhouse of the forest and had to be taken out, and Suzie saw the extraordinary web of roots. After this incident, she got back to the study of trees and concluded that pine needle seedling root was able to pass on carbon to a different pine seedling root.
Trees must help each other to survive
The previously mentioned facts and exciting connection between the forest trees, motivated Suzanne to continue with her examinations, and she was curious to find out what more is happening there.
Her colleagues didn’t support her hypothesis that the trees share some information between them. Without support, her situation was quite challenging to find funding for her research, so she did some experiments on her own.
So, as a beginning, she planted 240 birch, fir, and cedar trees in the Canadian forest. She assumed that the fir trees and the birch trees would link each other by creating an underground web. Cedar won’t connect with the other trees. The seedlings were covered with some plastic bags filled with different types of gas. Furthermore, she inserted a radioactive gas in the birch, and in the fir added a stable carbon dioxide.
After this trick, she found out that the cedar tree wasn’t that silent as it seemed to present. There was a loud sound between the fir and the birch trees; carbon was shared. Birch trees sent carbon to fir, especially when there was a lot of shade.
The opposite reaction happened during the winter period when the birch didn’t have leaves, and the fir trees sent them carbon.
The scientists always believed that there was a collaboration between the trees for sunlight, water, and carbon. But, with this experiment, we know that they have a very close relationship.
Through the mycelium, the trees were conversing by signals, which are mainly chemical and hormonal. With these kinds of signs and messages, the trees ask for what they need, whether that is water, sunlight, or carbon or some other nutrients.
According to Suzanne, the trees can communicate via nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, water, chemicals, and hormones. All previously mentioned nutrients can be transported from one tree to another.
Mother Tree’s Wisdom
The network of mycelium links a lot of individuals (plants) in one forest, and it could be from the same or different species. The ecologist that we talk about, Suzanne, declared that the mother trees nurture younger trees. The mother has the power to be linked to hundreds of different trees. With the communication between the trees, they are becoming stronger. That is why all the trees are communicating with each other, and they are living in an incredible community.
Furthermore, when the mother is sick, she has to transmit her wisdom to the next generation. So, that will not be possible if all the trees are cut at the same time.
Suzanne’s experiment aims to prove that we need forests, and we need to change our behavior towards them. We can eliminate one or two trees, but that should be our maximum number because if we remove more of them, the whole system will collapse.
With what we do, we are only making our forests weaker. Luckily, the woods are capable of healing their selves.
Below, we present you for simple solutions to sustain the forests.
- Spend more time in your local forests.
- Save the primary forests, because they are keeping the mother trees alive, the genes and mycelium networks
- In the woods, some trees must be cut, but only the marked ones. Because the mother trees must pass the wisdom to the next generation.
- The forests must contain a variety of species, so plant different types of trees.
We are getting familiar with the very complex connection and relationship in the forest between the trees. With all this new information, we can take proper care, and help to our forests.
The world needs more people like the ecologist Suzanne, so make sure that you become one of them. Nature will be thankful.