UBC Forestry Prof. Suzanne Simard's Work on the Web of Life That Supports Us All

Last night the CBC's 'Nature of Things' ran an inspiring and profoundly educational documentary titled: Smarty Plants: Uncovering the Secret World of Plant Behaviour [you can watch the full documentary here]. Smarty Plants follows lead scientist and ecologist JC Cahill from the stunning heights of Utah’s Great Basin Desert to the rain forests of Canada’s west coast as he treks the green world and discovers that plants are a lot more like animals than we ever imagined.

One section in particular [perhaps because i live in a Douglas Fir coastal rain forest] concentrated on the work of UBC Forestry Prof. Suzanne Simard, who at UBC lectures on and researches the role of mycorrhizae and mycorrhizal networks in tree species migrations with climate change disturbance. In it she walks and talks the viewer through an introduction to the interconnected world of the forest, specifically a Douglas Fir forest, but as my research this morning has taught me the same general story holds true in every forest environment studied in detail so far.

In an excellent 5 minute video [here]  Prof. Simard talks about Mother trees and the implications of the invisible interconnected nature of all forests in regard to our present day logging industry, its outmoded practices and how we are undermining the health and productivity of this resource with our short-sighted quick profit model of development.

A different short textual page on Mycorrhizal Networks shows how the survival of young trees was greatly enhanced when they were linked into the network of the old trees. This research provides strong evidence that maintaining forest resilience is dependent on conserving mycorrhizal links, and that removal of hub trees could unravel the network and compromise regenerative capacity of the forests.

This old pantheist's heart and hope "soars like an eagle", as Chief Dan George said, today. Perhaps the rationality of science can one day lead us to understanding intellectually and then emotionally that we are all-flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces and faeries-in this together.