About the Discussion Series
In previous years, the Ridges Reads book club has explored topics of climate solutions and Indigenous ecological knowledge. In this year’s Ridges Reads book club, we’re diving into an ongoing conversation in the scientific community – and one currently without a conclusion. Together, we’ll explore the imaginative and controversial topic of the “wood-wide web” through the lens of ecologists, foresters, and the environmental community. We’ll dive into the stories, the science, and why the scientific community is split (no pun intended) on this issue. Join us for this three-session book club series we’re calling “The Root Issue”!
The term “wood-wide web” was coined to describe the mycorrhizal networks connecting trees and other organisms in a forest. This phenomenon has recently become well known through bestselling books, such as Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree and Peter Wholleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. Through their books, both Suzanne Simard and Peter Wholleben claim that not only do trees exchange nutrients through these mutualistic relationships, but they also send each other warnings, care for each other, and cooperate through these networks. However, experts in the scientific community are now refuting these claims, stating that there is not enough evidence of the sentience that Simard and Wholleben affirm these mycorrhizal networks, and subsequently, forests, have.
This year’s book club will span three sessions. During the first session, we will discuss the book Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. Following the first session, our second session will focus on the book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wholleben. The third session won’t focus on an individual book but rather resources on the studies that have since been published, refuting the claims in both Finding the Mother Tree and The Hidden Life of Trees. We’re excited to dive into this scientific mystery, which continues to unfold as more research is conducted.
Why these books? Why now?
The Ridges is committed to conducting scientific research as part of our mission to promote positive environmental behaviors. We recognize the importance of both conducting scientific research and empowering our community to engage in scientific discussions. We are excited to create a space where all individuals can feel welcome to explore and discuss this scientific issue without judgement or criticism, but with curiosity and an open mind. The goal of this book club is simply to explore current science!
Book Club Dates
The virtual discussions and in person discussions will cover the same material each week. Please only register for one discussion type.
Virtual Dates: January 9th, January 30th, February 20th
In Person Dates: January 11th, February 1st, February 22nd
Additional articles and resources to be shared with Ridges Reads participants for the third discussion!