A new

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Gargi. gupta@ dnain­dia. net, @ tog­a­rgi

the con­trary, it’s a mov­ing, beau­ti­ful­ly­writ­ten evo­ca­tion of the world of trees, in­deed, the world inside a tree, by a man who’s stud­ied them closely for many decades. Wohlleben had been a mem­ber of Ger­many’s for­est com­mis­sion for two decades and now man­ages the an­cient forests around the Eifel Moun­tain. His long as­so­ci­a­tion with trees, his hard- gath­ered knowl­edge of how they work and his abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate it to those who know less, shines through in ev­ery para­graph.

Trees aren’t in­ert, un­mov­ing “ob­jects” for Wohlleben — they are per­sons, with will, emo­tion and in­tel­li­gence. Take this pas­sage from a chapter ti­tled Tree School: “Thirst is harder for trees to en­dure than hunger, be­cause they can sat­isfy their hun- ger when­ever they want. Like a baker who al­ways has enough h bread, a tree can sat­isfy a rum­bling g stom­ach right away us­ing pho­toosyn­the­sis. But even the best baker er can­not bake without wa­ter, and thehe same goes for a tree.”

Wohlleben’s mes­sage is a sim­ple­ple one: hu­mans need to stop med­dling ing with forests. Plan­ta­tion forests – rows of trees planted in straight lines with ex­actly mea­sured dis­tance so that they can be har­vested for wood – are an abom­i­na­tion. Trees and forests have in­built mech­a­nisms that help them prop­a­gate and grow sus­tain­ably, to pro­tect them­selves from dis­ease and pests. Since sci­ence has a yet im­per­fect un­der­stand­ing of how th­ese work, it’s best

that they are left to them­selves.them­selves The Ger­man orig­i­nal was a huge seller when it came out last year, and the English trans­la­tion has al­ready gath­ered great re­views. As Pradip Kishen, In­dia’s best known tree ex­pert, writes in his in­tro­duc­tion to the In­dian edi­tion, Wohlleben’s book should be made “re­quired read­ing for ev­ery forester in the sub­con­ti­nent”.

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