Trees have their own internet. In a forest, trees speak to each other, and engage in inter-species cooperation, sending each other nutrients and information through a dense underground network supported by filaments of symbiotic fungi, as well through cruder above-ground exchanges based on organic volatile compounds.
If this is your first encounter with the Wood-Wide-Web – the internet of trees in a forest – you might want to learn more, starting with this enlightening Ted talk by Suzanne Simard:
The preservation, and expansion, of forests is of course a major front in tackling the worst outcomes of climate change, but also in getting to a place of better integration between humans societies and the rest of nature.
Simard’s advice is, first of all, to re-connect with our forests.
We all need to get out in the forest. We need to re-establish local involvement in our own forests. You see, most of our forests now are managed using a one-size-fits-all approach, but good forest stewardship requires knowledge of local conditions. – Suzanne Simard
But we are city-dwelling creatures. How do we reconnect with something that is physically far from the places we ordinarily hang out in?
Here’s a crazy idea. Let us connect the forest internet with our human internet.
Let’s place sensors all over the forest, and start eavesdropping on the conversations that are happening in it.
Bringing forests into our digital lives might help us build a new relationship with them, and become their stewards. Maybe even find a sustainable place for us in their ever-evolving landscape of complex interactions.
At foldAI, we have decided to take on this challenge, and we are very excited about what’s to come. Stay tuned!
1. The global tree restoration potential, Science
2. The network of plants volatile organic compounds, Nature
3. Plant-to-plant communication via mycorrhizal networks, Wikipedia