Suzanne Simard

1 minute read
By Jeffrey Kluger

Human beings may pride themselves on the buried webs of wire and fiber-optic cables that allow far-flung populations to keep in touch, but the trees beat us to it—by many millions of years. That is the revolutionary finding of Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, and the author of Finding the Mother Tree. 

Deep beneath the forest floor, Simard has found, trees communicate via vast networks of mycorrhizal fungi, using those symbiotic life-forms to help them share nutrients and even communicate information about threats such as disease and drought. 

Her TED talks have been viewed more than 10 million times, and her 200-plus peer-reviewed articles have deeply informed the thinking of conservationists and environmentalists working to help preserve forests in a world ever more threatened by climate change and wildfires. The trees, Simard teaches us, are talking. It is our job to start listening.

Kluger is a TIME editor-at-large

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