Introductions: Peter Wohlleben
November 22, 2021
By Rebecca Hoogs, Executive Director
In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben describes what he found by listening to trees: “Puzzles and wonders… Daily dramas and moving love stories… Here is the last remaining piece of Nature, right on our doorstep, where adventures are to be experienced and secrets discovered.”
For trees, being old doesn’t mean being bowed or fragile. Quite the opposite. “Elders,” he writes, “are markedly more productive than young whippersnappers, and when it comes to climate change, they are important allies for human beings.”
Wohlleben’s work helps readers speak the language of trees and understand how forests respond to threats and bounties as collectives—inspiring collaborations we can learn from. “If a tree falls in the forest there are other trees listening,” Wohlleben writes.
After reading his books, it’s impossible to see one tree without seeing those standing nearby—and the fecund soils and underground networks of fungi through which they trade nourishment and healing—even the air in their canopies contains messages.
Wohlleben’s newest book, The Heartbeat of Trees, captures the reverence and wonder for trees that humans have held for millennia. His research shows that we are not only admirers touched by their beauty but existentially connected to the inner workings of arboreal communities.
In Wohlleben’s imagination, humans are not merely observers of the natural world: our lives and our future are interlocked with theirs. “Trees could solve the problems if people trying to improve things would only allow them to take over,” Wohlleben posits.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the trees and forest of Carkeek Park near my home here in Seattle saved me many days over the last year and a half of the pandemic. When we couldn’t be together, being in trees—forest-bathing, so to speak—helped calm my mind and body.
It is thus an incredible pleasure and honor to welcome renowned forester and New York Times bestselling author Peter Wohlleben, and friend and translator Jane Billinghurst.
Rebecca Hoogs gave this introduction to open our 2021/22 SAL Presents event with Peter Wohlleben on November 16, 2021.