You’ve probably heard or been told, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Usually people are telling us that we are caught up in the details and not seeing the big picture, but there may be more to it. The trees may be hiding their secret of survival in the forest. If humans seek and embrace their survival secret, it will transform life as we know it.
The trees in a forest depend on cooperation to ensure long-term survival. Research has shown that trees are a connected community and actually care for each other. Why?
The health of the forest depends on the health of the individual trees, but a tree is not a forest. When they stand together they are stronger than we they stand alone. Standing together, trees and plants create an ecosystem that moderates extremes.
Wind – groups of trees provide protection from strong winds, making it more difficult for the wind to break or uproot trees.
Moisture – groups of trees actually create humidity providing the vital moisture needed to survive.
Erosion – trees are entangled by their roots and make it difficult for the soil to erode away.
Protecting the whole is so important that trees will actually assist a sick member of the forest. Scientists have discovered that trees share nutrients either through the fungal networks around the root tips, or the roots themselves may be interconnected.
Not only do trees help each other in times of stress, they communicate when danger is present.
On the African Savanna, scientists made a shocking discovery on how trees communicate. A herd of giraffes were feeding on umbrella thorn acacias. Well, the trees didn’t like the fact they were being eaten and within a few minutes of being munched upon, the trees began pumping toxic substances into their leaves to get rid of the giraffes. It wasn’t enough to harm the giraffes, just enough to make them move on to better tasting food.
It worked, the giraffes moved on, but what surprised the scientists was that they didn’t just move a few feet away and continue eating. They moved 100 feet away.
After several tests, the scientists discovered that the trees that were being eaten gave off a warning gas for the other trees. The scent messages were carried to nearby trees on the breeze. The trees that received the warning began pumping toxins to their leaves even before being eaten. To continue to eat, the giraffes needed to move far enough away to the trees that hadn’t received the warning.
People can benefit from the trees communication through scent. In Japan it’s know as forest bathing. Research on the health benefits of walking through a forest were found when a group of Korean scientists tracked older women on their daily walks. These women were monitored as they walked thru the forest and through urban areas.
What scientists found was that when the women walked through the forests, their blood pressure, lung capacity and the elasticity of their arteries improved. The excursions to town showed none of this.
Another important reason to protect our planet’s forests – they are good for our health.
Humans can learn a great deal from the forest. Their cooperation provides a protected environment that allows the trees to live a long life. That is why even sick trees are nourished and looked after. To get to this point the community must remain in tact and everyone must look out for each other. If they did not do this, the trees would not survive.
Is this the secret the trees are hiding in the forest?