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”.