Updated: Apr 22, 2020
There is a paradigm shift going on in the realm of forestry. For years there had been a consensus among ecologists that trees were all independent operators, each tree an island unto itself, the forest a place of limited, scarce resources where trees were in competition with each other. Paradigmatic trees were “disconnected loners, competing for water, nutrients and sunlight, with the winners shading out the losers and sucking them dry.”
But that’s beginning to change. When Ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered an underground connectivity between trees in her field experiments, scientists began to see the forest through new eyes. Scientists like Simard and German Forester Peter Wohlleben began to study the many ways trees are connected to each other through underground fungal networks and actually share resources with each other. If we could pull back the forest floor, we could actually see white and yellow threads crisscrossed and going off in multiple directions connecting each tree with an abundance of resources embedded
in its neighbor trees throughout the forest.