The Hidden Life of Trees
by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst (William Collins, £9.99)
According to Peter Wohlleben, we fail to understand trees because “they live on a different time scale” from us. One of the world’s most venerable trees is a spruce in Sweden that is 9,500 years old. Wohlleben draws on decades of experience as a forester in Germany’s Eifel mountains for this eye-opening book. He starts with wise words for those entering a forest: “Slow down, breathe deep and look around.” Not only is the air cleaner, as leaves filter out pollutants, but pine forests release defensive compounds that kill germs. Trees also release oxygen, so a walk in the woods is “like taking a shower in oxygen”. Wohlleben’s aim is to let us see the trees and forests around us not just as “lumber factories” but as wondrous organisms, as complex as any animal. Trees are “social beings”, communicating through their roots, thanks to the fungal “wood wide web” that permeates the soil, even sharing nutrients in hard times. Wohlleben’s book will change your view of the wooded world.