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Book Review: Finding the Mother Tree

If you're a Ted Lasso fan too, you may have caught a reference to Suzanne Simard's Mother Tree Hypothesis in season 2, when Coach Beard said "You know, we used to believe that trees competed with each other for light. Suzanne Simard's field work challenged that perception, and we now realize that the forest is a socialist community. Trees work in harmony to share the sunlight." (I did catch it while watching but appreciate Wikipedia's exact quote). Simard is a Canadian forestry scientist whose book Finding the Mother Tree summarizes the science that led to these ideas about cooperation over the course of her career and personal life. Many of her discoveries revolve around the role of underground fungal networks called mycorrhizae that connect trees and allow them to share minerals, water and information, even between species for the benefit of the entire community. I noticed many ways that her ideas apply to ecosystems in Louisiana that are not forests. Mycorrhizae and other soil microbiota are nearly invisible but critical components of a healthy ecosystem, and many traditional gardening and farming techniques regularly disrupt and destroy these easy-to-dismiss contributors to the health of the ecoystem. This is why no-till techniques have gained a foothold even in conventional agriculture. Her book helps you see the "forest for the trees" even if you're in a prairie or wetland. Highly recommend.

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