Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben

Staff review by Chris Saliba

German forester Peter Wohlleben delves into the hidden world of trees and makes many surprising discoveries. 

Peter Wohlleben is a German forester and writer. His book, The Hidden Life of Trees, has been a huge hit in his native Germany, selling over 300,000 copies. Now translated into English, a broader audience can gain access to this unique and beautiful portrayal of the natural world.

Most of us, it’s probably safe to say, see trees as inanimate lumps of wood. They merely sit there, creating shade, making a landscape look pretty or providing food in the form of fruit. Besides this they’re not worth taking a closer look at. How wrong we have all been! In this lively and animated book of popular science, seasoned forester Peter Wohlleben shows that trees are living, breathing organisms with complex lives of their own. Much of what he describes is quite surprising. Amongst many other fascinating scientific discoveries, it’s been established that trees communicate with each other through scent, help neighbouring trees that are in trouble by supplying them nutrients through their root systems, feel pain or discomfort when their leaves are eaten and can repel unwanted guests. In one example, Wohlleben describes giraffes who were eating the leaves of a particular tree in Africa. To send the giraffes on their way, the tree quickly emitted an unsavoury scent. Once this scent was in the air, it alerted other trees to the danger.

The chief charm of The Hidden Life of Trees is Wohlleben’s imaginative and evocative writing style. He sets forth the science of trees in a pleasant, easily digestible form. In many ways, his book is almost written like a children’s story book. He makes the reader radically re-think their view of trees, bringing them come alive as sensitive, thoughtful, complex beings. Once you’ve read this book, no walk through a forest or garden will ever be the same again.

The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben. Published by Black Inc. ISBN:  9781863958738 RRP: $29.99

(Release date 13th September 2016)

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