Why trees are even more awesome than you think

Would it surprise you to learn that, like animals, trees communicate with each other and pass on their legacy to the next generation?

In this fascinating video, UBC Professor Suzanne Simard explains how trees are much more complex than most of us ever imagined. Although Charles Darwin assumed trees are simply individual organisms competing for survival of the fittest, Simard demonstrates just how wrong he was. In fact, the opposite is true: trees survive through mutual co-operation and support, passing around essential nutrients “depending on who needs it”.

Nitrogen and carbon are shared through miles of underground fungi networks, ensuring that all trees in the forest eco-system give and receive just the right amount to keep them all healthy. This invisible web works in a very similar way to the networks of neurons in our brains, and when one tree is destroyed it has consequences for all.

Simard talks about “mother trees”, usually the largest and oldest organisms on which all other trees depend. She explains how dying trees pass on a “legacy” to the next generation, shuffling important minerals to young saplings so they may continue to grow. When humans cut down mother trees with no awareness of these highly complex “tree societies” or the networks on which they feed, we are reducing the chances of survival for the entire forest.

“We didn´t take any notice of it,” Simard says sadly. “Dying trees move resources into the young trees before dying, but we never give them chance.” If we could factor this crucial knowledge into our forestry industries, we could make a huge difference towards conservation efforts for the future.

(Via Activist Post)

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