Back to Nature

The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature. Author: Peter Wohlleben.

This is the second book I have read of his; the first was The Hidden Life of Trees. He is a forester in Germany, hence the focus on trees.

I was looking forward to reading this because in the first book I discovered a million almost unbelievable facts about what goes on in the forest.

This book did not disappoint with even more incredible information backed up by intensive research and studies. A few hints I can give without spoilers Is why humans and some many other animals evolved to see in color while other animals only need to see in black and white to survive. Okay, one spoiler. Only because I have been wondering about this for a few years now. We have tiny muscles in our ears that move our eardrums to point in the direction of sounds we hear. My mind started on this when I started meditating and trying to figure out how I could not only tell exactly where sounds were coming from but also how far away the sound is produced. Even telling the difference between a loud or soft sound from afar or close. It doesn’t matter if the sounds have the exact same volume; I can discern if it originated from the highway a mile in the distance or directly outside my window in the parking lot. I still don’t know that one.

There is also a lot about human relationship with trees, starting with fire. Archaeologists are continually discovering much older evidence of ancient man’s relationship with controlled fires. He is well versed in research and admits when he is only speculating but his guesses are well educated. One proven idea is being in the forest calms relaxes us. Trees release chemicals which change our brains when we breathe them in. He has no idea why. But it explains a recent interest and some small industry around “forest bathing.”

Part of this book is a bummer when he explains exactly how much “old growth forest” is left in the world. (Not much) Old growth forest is a much better protection against climate change. Most forests left are managed like plantations with low diversity and are mostly used for profit. Trees are considered a renewable resource and these tree farms are promoted as good for the environment which is not always the case. Old growth forests are renewable but only over thousands of years.

Wow… Bad vibes. He does give hope, telling of many young people who have a great interest in the environment recently. They are motivated to do take action and not just talk about it. Overall, I am glad I read this book. It is a good read for me because my concentration is getting better but not like I used to be. So the short chapters gave me frequent breaks but I actually read it faster than I would another book of the same length. (This was short at 165 pages.) That is a personal plus.

I did enjoy, The Hidden Life of Trees more than this but only because I would rate that as one of the best books I have ever read. I have read a lot of books.

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