In the Foreword to “The Hidden Life of Trees”by Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery (scientist, ecology-conservationist, and Fellow at the Melbourne Sustaintability Institute, University of Melbourne) tells us that trees connect to other trees through “a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods.”
Trees also, Tim says,
use the senses of smell and taste for communication. If a giraffe starts eating an African acacia, the tree releases a chemical into the air that signals that a threat is at hand. As the chemical drifts through the air and reaches other trees, they “smell” it and are warned of the danger. Even before the giraffe reaches them, they begin producing toxic chemicals. Insect pests are dealt with slightly differently. e saliva of leaf-eating insects can be “tasted” by the leaf being eaten. In response, the tree sends out a chemical signal that attracts predators that feed on that particular leaf-eating insect.
He then goes on to make an astonishing, and moving statement.
The trees in a forest care for each other, sometimes even going so far as to nourish the stump of a felled tree for centuries after it was cut down by feeding it sugars and other nutrients, and so keeping it alive.
In the UN Climate Summit (2014), the New York Declaration on Forests, a non-binding international declaration was published. It included a pledge to halve the rate of deforestation by 2020, and end it by 2030.
The Guardian ran a piece by its environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey, on 12th September 2019, that began: “An area of forest the size of the UK is being lost every year around the world, the vast majority of it tropical rainforest, with dire effects on the climate emergency and wildlife.” Fiona quoted climate change and forestry experts Dr Charlotte Streck (Director of Climate Focus), and Dr. Jo House (Director of the Masters Program in Climate Change Science & Policy Bristol University) warning us that deforestation has accelerated, and even though tree-planting is happening in some parts of the world, this “does not compensate for the loss of standing forests.”
In “Sand and Foam”, Kahlil Gibran sings:
Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper that we may record our emptiness.