Finding the Mother Tree

Finding the Mother Tree

Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Book - 2021 | First edition
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"A personal and scientific work on trees, forests, and the author's profound discoveries of tree communication"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2021
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780525656098
052565609X
Branch Call Number: 333.75 SIM
Characteristics: 348 pages ; 24 cm

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JLMason
Jun 03, 2021

Simard's research and discoveries about the symbiotic relationship among tree species connected by a fungal network is fascinating and worthy of acclaim.  Unfortunately the first half of this autobiography is slow and dull. But the book finally picks up speed when she begins her real research.  She explains how her curiosity and childhood connection to nature the wilds of British Columbia made her open to alternate ways of thinking.  She had to persist in the face of forest industry hostility and resistance to change to conduct her experiments.  These showed how a forest ecosystem functions as a whole to produce healthy trees compared to the sterile monocultures favored by the forest industry.  This account should have been more interesting, but it has way too much detail about how the experiments were conducted, information that could have been provided in appendix notes.  It suffers in comparison to Walter Isaacson's biography "Code Breaker" about another female scientist, noble prize winner Jennifer Doudna. Reading these two books in parallel I am struck by how one author can make people and scientific subject matter come alive.  Simard's book would have benefited from a better story arc and a broader context outside of herself:  information about forestry practices beyond BC and Canada, other similar research, and the impact of her work on the industry ("transform forestry practices into what is adaptive and holistic and away from what has been overly authoritarian and simplistic"). 

r
rca8
May 27, 2021

Fundamental scientific advances involve a re-visioning of nature. We're called to see reality in a new way. No longer huge, sluggish lizards, we now can imagine dinosaurs as small, agile, and covered with feathers, and we realize they never fully went extinct. Suzanne Simard's work has led to such a re-visioning of what a forest is: no longer an aggregate of separate individual trees stuck in a substrate of dirt, and instead a 'wood-wide web' of interconnections, with trees linked to, and interacting with, each other through webs of mycorrhizal fungi. This re-visioning has deep policy implications for the management of forests and also potentially for how trees are planted in urban environments.

d
daddo
Jan 20, 2021

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