“No more walks in the wood;
This is the aftermath
Of afternoons in the clover
Fields where we once made love
Then wandered home together
Where the trees arched above,
Where we made our own weather
When branches were the sky.
Now they are gone for good,
And you, for ill, and I
Am only a passer-by.”
— John Hollander, An Old-Fashioned Song
The Life and Loves of a Tree
We start loving trees as children because they are so much fun to climb and offer endless playtime adventures and hiding-out opportunities. As we get older, explore and learn more about trees, we find more to love and cherish.
Trees do many good things for the world — like cleaning the air, providing oxygen, and protecting us against a changing climate (to name just a few), and trees have incredible healing and restorative powers along with an ability to spark creative and spiritual inspiration. Just a short walk in the woods can lift your spirits. And, take a look around along the way. You may be surprised at what’s really going on among the trees.
A forest is actually a lot like a community of social beings. Yes, that’s right — trees in the forest are social, sharing, caring and also smart, having evolved to live in cooperative, interdependent relationships through communication and collective intelligence. And, all this extraordinary interaction among trees is happening underground, just inches below the surface.
Suzanne Simard, a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences in Vancouver, studies the below-ground fungal networks that connect trees and enable their underground “inter-tree” communication and interaction. In her TED presentation How Trees Talk To Each Other, Suzanne describes her field research (which included some tense moments with a bear) and the exciting discoveries during 30 years of study. [Ted Talk, courtesy of TED, CC BY–NC–ND 4.0 International]
Peter Wohlleben’s international best-seller The Hidden Life of Trees (2015) fascinated readers to the many wonders of the forest. In a new, illustrated edition, beautiful images provide the perfect complement to the original book, with striking close-ups of bark and seeds, panoramas of vast expanses of green, and a unique look at what is believed to be the oldest tree on the planet. [If you purchase a book via the link here to Amazon, Zeester Media LLC may receive a small commission. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase
Go To The Woods – Breathe Deeply – Be At Peace
In Japan, shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), is the practice of spending time within a forest to benefit from its therapeutic powers as well as to enjoy being surrounded by nature. Introduced in the early 1980’s as a Japanese national health program, it has become a popular healing practice throughout Japan and around the world.
Forest bathing activities may include relaxation techniques such as mindful meditation, yogic breathing (yoga deep breathing exercise) and aromatherapy as well as walking or simply standing in a forest absorbing it all through the five senses (sight, touch, smell, sound and taste). For the best experience, participants are encouraged to select a safe, secure forest and relaxation methods that best fit their needs and preferences.
Technical Recreational Tree-Climbing, a style of tree climbing requiring special equipment and techniques, continues to grow in popularity as an enlightening outdoor experience with therapeutic benefits as climbers ascend into the crowns of tall trees and canopies of forests. Basic training is essential to learning how to use the ropes, saddles, and techniques safe for both the climber and tree.
Once a year, Tim Kovar, an adventurous arborist and tree climbing instructor, takes a few people on a climb up one of the tallest trees in the world — an 850 year old California redwood called the Grandfather. It’s a summit Tim says less people have attempted than Mt. Everest.
Go Tree Climbing – The Global Organization of Tree Climbers provides information on training, climbing programs, and safety. Tree Climbers Rendezvous 2018 is a tree climbing event open to all levels of experience, scheduled to be held in Costa Rican Cloud Forest August 24-28.
Tree Climbers International – promotes tree climbing as a safe recreational activity for people of all ages, and offers recreational tree climbing courses from basic to advanced.
Do Trees Talk to Each Other? by Richard Grant, Smithsonian Magazine (March 2018)
Alternative Healing, A Walk in the Forest by Catie Liebeck, Pulitzer Center (April 25, 2016)
How Trees Calm Us Down by Alex Hutchinson, The New Yorker (July 23, 2015)
Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
When You Give a Tree an Email Address, by Adrienne LaFrance, Atlantic Monthly (July 10, 2015) The city of Melbourne assigned email addresses to trees so that citizens could report problems with a specific tree. Instead of reporting problems, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees.
Find a Forest Near You – interactive map & online search tools to help you find forests in US and Puerto Rico
10 Incredible Forest Walks To Add To Your Bucket List by Richard Madden, The Telegraph Travel/Tours (August 7, 2017)
Want to get involved and help trees? Our world can certainly benefit in many ways with more trees. Here’s a list of just a few of the organizations dedicated to planting trees and restoring and protecting forests around the world:
National Forest Foundation – Nonprofit partner to the US Forest Service (chartered in 1993) that promotes health and enjoyment of America’s forests with community involvement, tree planting programs, collaborative research, funding grants, and information resources
Arbor Day Foundation – Nonprofit conservation and education organization that provides information and support for the planting of trees in cities and communities and restoring forests around the world. [Search for Arbor Day celebration dates across America and around the world → here]
Tree People – A nonprofit organization that inspires and supports the people of Los Angeles, California to plant and care for trees, harvest the rain, and renew depleted landscapes.
3 Ways To Get Involved – Crowtherlab – Includes a global interactive map and list of organizations to help you learn more about tree planting and forest restoration and find a project you’d like to support.
Feature photo is courtesy of Spring Fed Images/Unsplash CC0
Gordon Hempton is a ‘sound tracker’, traveling the world in search of vanishing sounds, including silence. He found a quiet spot in the Washington Hoh rainforest, and takes us there in the short video documentary, Preserving One Square Inch of Silence.
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