A Natural Connection

There is nothing that will put the fear of climate change into you quite like the ski season that is just winding down. Whether you experienced the year's news-breaking 'polar vortex,' a whopping 30 centimeters of fresh powder in May, or no snow at all until well into January, you would have to be nuts (yes, I'm calling you nuts) to deny that there is something completely out of whack in our ecosystem. And you know what? Trees think so too. And they're talking about it.

Now before you call me nuts, do yourself a favor and watch this video where UBC Professor Suzanne Simard explains how trees and plants of various species use networks of fungi -- also known as mycorrhizae-- to communicate with one another through their underground root systems.

What is fascinating about this, is that these subterrainian networks of communication are the livelihood of all forests. These mycorrhizae are a mode of connection that allow plants and trees to warn one another of pests and disease as well as provide bigger  “Mother trees” with a vehicle to transport carbon, water and nutrients to younger plants in order to ensure survival. Without them, there would be nothing keeping our air clean and nothing driving the diversity and resilience of the ecosystem. As humans, we can learn so much about the importance of connectivity from nature. Ecological balance depends on these fragile and complex modes of connection, and without these talking trees and magical fungi we would be left treeless and without much hope.

Oh, and speaking of fungi, it's forage season, so while you are letting your boot liners dry out for the season, why don't you get out into the forest. You never know, those chanterelles might just be trying to tell you something about the world, other than that they taste delicious fried in butter with sage.

By AI Blog contributor: Lucy Lynch