Secret Wisdom of Forests with Dr. Suzanne Simard
Did you know: 80% of the earth’s original forests have been cleared? Are you familiar with the rule of 3s when it comes to survival?
We can generally survive:
- 3 weeks without food
- 3 days without water
- 3 minutes without oxygen
So, yeah, we might need these things in the future.
See the Forest for the Trees
Right now, we have about 3 trillion trees on the planet. We’re cutting down 10 billion trees a year, and the population growth rate is more than 1%.
This means, right now, we have roughly 400 trees for every human, which means every tree is responsible for 57.6 breaths for humans
By 2030, that number drops to 341 trees per human.
Each tree is then responsible for 67.5 breaths.
By 2050, that number drops to 278 trees per human.
Each tree is then responsible for 83 breaths.
The stress and strain on our forests continues to threaten our well-being and pose a dangerous impact on the quality of our air and our ability to breathe better.
The Flip Side of Our Breathing Problem
Deforestation represents the other half of our breathing problem. Without original, biodiverse forests, we jeopardize our ability to combat stress and anxiety, become more mindful, and better connect to our moment.
Protecting our ancient and endangered forests is essential to solving our breathing problem.
How to Get Involved:
International Day of Forests
To celebrate International Day of Forests, we joined a talk on the secret wisdom of forests with Canopy Planet and Dr. Suzanne Simard. Explore the flip side of our breathing problem with this recorded Tree Talk from Canopy Planet.
Tree Talks: Secret Wisdom of Forests
Dear Forests: A Love Letter
We are walking trees & floating plants.
- John Burroughs
Two books about trees exist in my memory from early on, as if I was born with them already embedded in my DNA. I do not recall reading them for the first time, and only rediscovered their deep roots and magnificent impact upon first reading them to my daughters. These two books form the foundation of my understanding of this world, and are the building blocks of my imagination and how I define adventure and freedom. They are The Lorax* and The Giving Tree.
In a similar path of rediscovery, the history I share with trees came crashing back into me during a walk through the temperate rainforest outside Vancouver in October of 2019. In the same way you stumble upon yourself after recovering from the end of a relationship or return to your loved ones after your first long road trip, walking into and through the forest that day was a return to myself, when I hadn’t yet realized I had departed.
When I was four, I fell from a neighborhood tree and broke both bones in both arms. My friends dragged me into a red Radio Flyer wagon and wheeled me home. My mother carried me inside and called my father because I wouldn’t let her near my arms and she couldn’t bear to cut the sleeves of my brand new baseball jacket.
And yet, while I am reassured by my mother that this event and the months of recovery was anything but, joy fills my heart as I retell this story to my daughters. I am filled with a feeling of tremendous triumph as I relive those moments when I learned to play with a dinosaur and marbles with my feet, while my arms were suspended from the top bunk for six months.
I found myself in the temperate rainforest outside of Vancouver as part of an eco-event hosted by Canopy Planet that concluded the 2019 Textile Exchange conference. This was my first sustainability conference. During the event, I crossed paths with the team at Canopy, and have been championing their cause ever since.
Following the eco-event, Canopy’s Founder and Executive Director, Nicole Rycroft, gave an impassioned lecture in which she spoke of the rapturous love affair between trees and humans. While I listened to Nicole, another memory came crashing back in. She captured our relationship with trees in a way I hadn’t understood before: we have been intimately connected and dependent on trees since our very first breath.
I was reminded of the few moments following the birth of our firstborn. Her skin was still a violet hue as she lay on her mother’s chest and worked herself up to her first howl. With those early breaths, I watched the oxygen slowly bloom within her. These magnificent pink blossoms—one on her arm, another on her back; one on her cheek and another on her leg and her neck—an absolute miracle that now dances and laughs and practices tae kwon do.
And so, upon my return to the forest that cold and rainy day in October—the final day of a challenging and incredibly inspiring week of Textile Exchange—these memories and many others came crashing back into me, filling me with a sense of absolute freedom, exhilarating adventure, tangible nostalgia, and a renewed purpose.
This hike, the opportunity presented by Canopy’s mission, the ability to thank these ancient and endangered guardian forests properly, the opportunity to protect my daughters’ chance to explore and develop this relationship, all of these signs have provided answers and much needed direction.
Thank you for reading. We hope to see you at the Canopy Planet event on 3/21.
Want to show more love for the trees?
If this scratches an itch (cue GIF of bear receiving best back scratch of life against a tree), here’s some further reading:
The Cosmic Miracle of Trees: Astronaut Leland Melvin reads Pablo Neruda’s Love Letter to Earth’s Forests (5 min read).