By Romina Bevilacqua
Charles Darwin was one of the first men to study them and to point out that they were sentient beings and that their roots acted "like the brain of one of the lower animals", however over the years these observations have not only been corroborated, but that even more secrets have been discovered that could change the way we relate to the nature around us. We have seen what neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso has revealed about his intelligence, his ability to calculate and even his ability to communicate with each other. But today I want to tell you about the findings of Peter Wohlleben, a German game ranger who has brought public attention to these issues in a way that no one would have expected.
Thanks to his book called "The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries From a Secret World" which was a A complete bestseller - it has sold around 320,000 copies and has already been translated in 19 countries - Wohlleben has presented to the world a side of nature that many were unaware of. In it Wohlleben has not only shown his readers that trees are much more than "organic robots that clean the air and generate oxygen", as he says that today's society usually sees them, but also has presented them as what they truly are: living beings with complex structures, capable of communicating with each other and generating social connections.
Walking in the woods, Peter stops in front of two large trees and says:
These trees are friends. Do you see how the wide branches point in different directions from each other? That's so you don't block your friend's light. Sometimes pairs like this are so interconnected that when one of the trees dies, the other dies too "
Peter Wohlleben studied forestry or forest science and has since worked as a ranger in various fields. And for this book, in addition to drawing on various studies published today about the behavior of plants, he drew on his own experiences and observations in the field.
Among the themes that Wohlleben dealt with in his book are that plants can count, learn and remember; who take care of their sick neighbors, who issue an alert to warn others in case of danger, by sending electrical signals through a network called "Wood Wide Web", and who for reasons that are still unknown keep the trunks of fallen trees alive for centuries by feeding them a sugary solution through their roots.
It has been 10 years since Wohlleben has seen with his own eyes how the forest actually tends to be much healthier when humans stop taking such a role in its growth. The Eifel municipality hired him directly to take over their forest and he made several changes based on what he had seen in several trips abroad to study the behavior of these ecosystems: he changed the use of heavy machinery for horses, he eliminated the use of insecticides and began to let the forest grow on its own and at its own pace. Two years later the forest looked much healthier and the owners were happy to have eliminated so much spending on machinery and chemicals.
I believe that finally the human being is realizing that we are not the only intelligent beings on Earth, and that nature is better without our "help".