‘The Hidden Life of Trees- What They Feel, How They Communicate’ by Peter Wohlleben

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Genre: Non-fiction/Gardening

This book was reviewed on the ABC radio program ‘Overnights with Rod Quinn’ as part of my Christmas special. The podcast of the review is available under the ‘Podcasts’ tab if you want to hear the full review 🙂

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It’s Autumn time here in Sydney and the landscape is spectacular. Lately, when I’ve taken my dog for a walk, I’ve also brought along my camera to chapter some of the different colours around at the moment (it may sound nerdy, but I love trees, I’ve also added some snaps just to show everyone how gorgeous it is!). I’ve been inspired to take out ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ from my bookshelf and decided to review it again.

This was an incredibly popular book and a massive seller over the Christmas period.

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The author, Peter Wohlleben, is a forester in the Eifel Mountains of Germany who has spent over 20 years studying the lives of trees and now runs an environmentally friendly woodland where he works for the return of primeval forests

Each chapter of this book delves into a different aspect of a forest- the necessity of trees surviving off one another and how “loner trees” struggle and develop dramatically differently to trees that have a mother bear companion. He also looks into the modern forestry industry and how an average person’s concept of a trees health (all the way back to what we learn in school) is not natural way a tree is meant to develop. There is also a great foreword by Tim Flannery Timothy, the renowned Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist and global warming activist.

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Although this book is highly anthropomorphized to the point where it feels artificial, this book does change the way you see nature and trees in your everyday environment. I didn’t love this book, it’s not an area I’ve particularly had much interest in but I do feel it’s a significant book and a wonderful to any well read person’s book collection

 I came across a woman who read this book to complement Annie Proulx’s fiction book Barkskins which is about the construction of forests in the New World. I thought this was a wonderful idea because of the way Wohlleben romantizes lives of trees and community in forests.

I came across another review of this book in the newspaper ‘The Guardian’ and loved Wohlleben’s quote,

“Beech trees are bullies​ and​ willows are loners”

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Maybe if we had a little bit more of an appreciation for trees as living organisms, would we be in such a global crisis against climate change?

Food for thought

Love,
Vanessa

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