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An Ecologist’s New Book Gets At The Root Of Trees’ Social Lives by Cori Vanchieri

In ‘Finding the Mother Tree,’ Suzanne Simard recounts discovering forests’ hidden networks. Opening Suzanne Simard’s new book, Finding the Mother Tree, I expected to learn about the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. I had an inkling that Simard, a forest ecologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, would walk through her painstaking research to convince logging companies and others that clear-cutting large parcels of land is too damaging for forests to recover. I didn’t expect to be carried along on her very relatable journey through life. Simard was born in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia in 1960. Her family of loggers selectively cut trees and dragged them out with horses, leaving plenty still standing. In her first stab at a career, she joined a commercial logging company that clear-cut with large machinery. Her job was to check on seedlings the firm had planted in those areas to restart the forest. The fledgling plants were often yellowed and failing. Simard’s instincts told her those trees were missing the resources that exist within a diverse community of plants, so she set out to see if her hunch was right.

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