A British Columbia forest professor’s unique research and bestselling book mapping how trees are deeply connected communities has caught Hollywood’s attention.
Professor Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia says she is overwhelmed by the newfound celebrity status, but wants to continue to focus on saving the forests.
Simard said he expects to sign an agreement within weeks to become an executive producer on a film about his life and research after production companies backed by actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams won the film rights to his book. “Finding The Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest.”
“Amy Adams will play me, apparently,” Simard said. “That’s the plan. Yeah, it’s a little weird.”
Forest research makes the UBC professor a Hollywood star
The film, book and ongoing research will serve to broaden knowledge around the world about the sophisticated relationships trees have with the environment and create public concern about the threats they face, he said.
“I’d rather not have my life splashed in movies, but I’m interested in helping us all move forward in a more sustainable way,” said Simard, 61, in an interview from Nelson, BC.
“People are hungry for solutions, so that’s what I hope people will learn from this,” he said. “It’s transformative. That’s what I hope “.
Simard said her book is the personal story of a decades-long journey that begins with her as a new hire at a BC Interior forest company in the 1980s, moving towards her growing concerns as a government researcher on logging policies. nette and then her determined research as a university ecologist to prove that forests are communities and mother trees are their lifeblood.
Story of the UBC researcher who discovered how trees “talk” to each other on their way to Hollywood
“They’re actually like companies,” Simard said. “They have these deep relationships with each other, like trees, and with all the other creatures of the forest. It’s like this big interconnected community and there are all kinds of sophisticated ways they communicate and interact with each other. “
He said his work was often rejected by others who considered forests to be more competitive than cooperative environments.
But Simard said she was undeterred. Working in the Douglas fir forests near Kamloops, BC, she was able to produce a map showing the trees are connected through underground fungal root systems that allow the trees to share carbon, water and other nutrients.
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The trees are also capable of relaying information about potential diseases and pest threats to other trees through this network, he said.
“What we found in linking this map is that pretty much all of the trees were connected to each other,” Simard said. “They had the most connections to each other and what emerged from the map was that the largest and oldest trees were the most highly connected.
“That’s why we started calling it the mother tree, because all this convergence of information led us to understand that these old trees were really essential,” he said. “They are like the core of the forest in regenerating the forest.”
Simard leads UBC’s Mother Tree Project, established in 2015 to explore how tree connections and communication can affect forest recovery and better understand the impact of climate change on forests.
She said she consulted with major BC forest companies on initiatives to set aside more tracts of old forest in planned harvest areas to preserve more mother trees and biodiversity.
His determined pursuit of his research in the face of peer criticism gained praise earlier this year from an unlikely source during an episode of the award-winning television show “Ted Lasso”.
“We knew we once believed trees competed with each other for light,” said a “Ted Lasso” character during an unannounced work scene that ultimately paid off. “Suzanne Simard’s fieldwork challenged this perception, and we now realize that the forest is a socialist community. The trees work in harmony to share the sunlight.”
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