Canada Rain Forest + Salmon

Photo by Lucy

In our June 25th Blog post on Tree Groups and Tree Careers (, we learned that the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation was listed by in its the “Directory of NGOs working in the Forest Sector in Canada.”

This piqued our curiosity, and we wondered about the tree and salmon connection.

The Canadian Youth Biodiversity Network’s blog post about British Columbia’s Temperate Rainforests satisfied this curiosity, and replaced it with another “…Salmons are anadromous: they are born in freshwater and live up to a year sheltered in the nutrient-rich streams of the rainforest; they then move out to the ocean where they mature and bring rich nutrients from the ocean back to their birth stream where they will spawn.”

Now we wanted to learn more about Canadian rainforests which are home to many living Canadian treasures, even iconic species, and including trees that are 1000+ years old. Wow.

The Temperate Rain Forest of British Columbia

It turns out that British Columbia’s temperate rain forests are important and at the global level, rare, making up one quarter of the world’s total, and according to Sierra Club BC, have “…the largest carbon storage capacity per hectare on earth. Halting logging of endangered old-growth forest will help reduce BC’s carbon footprint and allow salmon, bears, wolves and many other species a fighting chance to adapt to a warming world.” (There’s that tree-salmon connection again.)

Sierra Club BC “works to support people stewarding abundant ecosystems and a stable climate, while building resilient, equitable communities.”

This non-profit’s mission statement is succinct with a sweeping embrace that resonates with us at Friends4Trees4Life –  “A healthy, life-sustaining planet, where humans respect the dignity and interdependence of all living beings.” ( and,

Photo by Lucy

Great Bear Rain Forest

Imagine living for more than 1000 years. Isn’t there something awe-inspiring and reverant about such an achievement?

Thankfully, some people in BC felt compelled to act to protect this ancient life. They also had the necessary stamina, focus, creativity, respect and resilience that was needed to succeed as they worked toward their goal for more than a decade.

This backgrounder explains the history and important trailblazing success achieved, after fifteen years of continued efforts, negotations and collaboration among the B.C. and First Nations governments along with environmental organizations and several forestry companies , in order to protect the Great Bear Rain Forest for future generations.

“Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) in the Great Bear Rainforest is one of the most comprehensive conservation and forest management achievements of this scale on Earth. The goals of Ecosystem-Based Management are twofold: low ecological risk (maintain 70 per cent of the natural levels of old-growth across all rainforest types) and high levels of human wellbeing. The measures set a new global model for forest conservation that strengthens indigenous rights, increases wildlife and ecological resilience, and keeps carbon stored in old-growth forests as a result of avoided logging. The conservation model sustains (and in some cases aims to restore) the long-term health for all types of forest ecosystems in the region. The science-based goal agreed to by all parties, to maintain 70 per cent of natural levels of old-growth ecosystems across all forest types, will be achieved for most ecosystems and exceeded in many. The plan puts an area the size of Nova Scotia under a new legal, scientifi c and principled standard for maintaining forest and wildlife health, and the health of the communities that depend on them, into the future.”

“Eighty-five per cent (3.1 million hectares) of the remote wilderness region’s coastal temperate rainforests will be permanently off-limits to industrial logging. The remaining 15 per cent (550,000 hectares) of the forest will be subject to the most stringent legal standards for commercial logging operations in North America.”

However, the success in protecting the Great Bear rainforest does not mean the work is done. This Sierra Club BC link outlines the remaining challenges and what’s at stake for climate change and biodiversity if BC’s remaining  old growth temperate rain forests continue to be felled at the rapid and unsustainable rates that they are currently being logged

Tree Friends and the Wood-Wide Web

Catherine’s imagination and regard have always been captured by the fact of longevity in living beings.

Her travel bucket list has long included seeing an actual living ancient British hedgerow that is at least 1000 years old. (For a Financial Times article on British hedgerows,

Now, through our Blog research, she knows about old-growth forests closer to home here in Canada and she has added visiting BC’s temperate rain forests in person one day to her bucket list too.

Well, if 1000 years of life isn’t a big enough number to contemplate, we are also learning that some old-growth forests have living trees that are 4000 years old. That’s truly incredible and mind-boggling!

Thanks to Toronto Reader Jim for putting The Hidden Life of Trees on our radar awhile ago.  Today seems like the perfect time to profile this book in our Blog, as we are growing increasingly entranced by the wonder, beauty and now mysteries of trees and tree life that we are learning about.

Author Peter Wohlleben explains in the three interview video clips below how he became motivated to overcome his disinterest in writing (he prefers talking with people about his beloved forests) in order to write The Hidden Life of Trees.

He feels there are some amazing scientific discoveries about trees in recent years worth knowing about and made more accessible and inviting to read for more people than the approach of dry scientific papers on offer to-date. He shares his knowledge with others in his forest walking tours, and now through his book, published in 2016, seeks to reach a wider audience, sharing his forest and the scientific discoveries embodied within it.

Science-based evidence is now available to help us understand how it is that trees work and communicate with each other to create an ecosystem (or tree “family” or “community”) that is protected and can live to be very old. “Mother trees” literally feed, care for and support their children and other aging or struggling trees, in part via vast inter-connected root systems and fungi networks hidden underground (the other WWW, the wood-wide web).

GoodReads offers this clear, succinct and enticing review,

“In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group. As a result of such interactions, trees in a family or community are protected and can live to be very old. In contrast, solitary trees, like street kids, have a tough time of it and in most cases die much earlier than those in a group.”

“Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.”

Here’s what the Smithsonian magazine’s science-oriented book review has to say about the author, and the science underpinning this book, It introduces Readers to some of the scientists who are continuing the work of studying how trees communicate, including UBC’s Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology.  It also provides an introduction to Simard’s and others’ studies into how “mycorrhizal networks” work – the underground fungal networks that work in concert with underground tree root systems to facilitate tree communication, exacting a ‘fee’ of 30% of a tree’s sugar production for their transmission “service”.

For a balanced perspective, the article also presents some scientists’ critique of Peter Wohlleben’s use of anthropomorphic and emotional language in his writings on trees. The video clip interviews offer the author’s response to such critiques, explaining why he intentionally uses an engaging and more “human” storytelling method for sharing the science-based evidence on trees with others.

This short, two-minute video clip of a Goethe Institut interview will introduce Readers to Peter Wohlleben, whom we found to be delightfully charming, engaging and credible.

If you want more of the Scandanavian accents, here is a second longer interview clip on SVT/NKR/Skavlan (9 minutes),

Finally, Toronto’s own Steve Paiken also interviewed Peter Wohlleben on TVOntario’s The Agenda, in this enjoyable 17- minute videoclip.

Added Tree Pleasures

We now have an added pleasure and challenge for our walks in nature and around the neighbourhood, thanks to Peter’s The Hidden Life of Trees – can we spot trees that are respectful ‘friendly’ trees? (Hint, the forests he manages near the remote village of Hummel , Germany, are populated with beech trees, and the old-growth forests in the Pacific rain forests of western North America where Suzanne Simard conducts her research into tree inter-connectedness include 1000-year old Douglas fir trees).  Happy tree gazing and friendly-tree hunting!

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