I have just finished this book and I have (mostly) nothing but praise for it. (I could have used a little less memoir and her metaphors were clunky at times.) Had checked it out a couple of months ago and was unable to finish it before I had to return it. So I got back on the wait list for it and was able to check it out again a few days ago. Thus, my reading was a tad disjointed.
Suzanne Simard is a brilliant and, dare I say it, visionary scientist. There had been previous studies, done in lab environments, testing whether trees and plants were communicating through an underground network. Simard took this idea to the woods and proved, without a doubt, that they were, and on a level more profound than most would have imagined. As a child growing up in the woods of western Canada, Simard had a deep, visceral understanding of forests. As a scientist she set out to prove that what she had suspected for years was in fact true. Across 30 years of research she shows us that trees do in fact communicate using a dense and complex fungal network. She proved that trees share information and nutrients between species and across seasons, depending upon where the need is greatest. She proved that trees recognize their kin and that even in the last years of their lives, rather than sequester themselves, they continue to pass on knowledge and nutrients to the trees around them. She proved that trees send warning of imminent stressors to those they are connected to, a critical element in a climate stressed world.
Simard’s early research was shot down by many in the industry, by those hoping to extract the most from the forest and produce the most marketable regeneration. They questioned her hypothesis and her methods. Though she struggled at times – fighting the current can be exhausting – she never relented. She believed in her results, trusted her science, trusted what her senses told her. Today her groundbreaking work is accepted across continents and disciplines. Now, if we can just get resource managers to put these ideas into practice…..