The Wood Wide Web


I recently read Rob Macfarlane’s Underland, a book that takes us into the very core of our existence, our species and our planet, and asks one simple question: Are we being good ancestors? It was in this book that I first read a proper description of the ‘Wood Wide Web’, a system by which trees mutually support one another through an underground social network of fungal species. Not only do they share intelligence and information - they also share nutrients if another tree in their network is diseased or dying. The intelligence of trees doesn’t surprise me, but it was still fascinating to learn about how complex and far-reaching they are. Completely hooked on the subject, I next read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, a really enjoyable book that explained the idea in more detail.

Trees might struggle to communicate across oceans, but I couldn’t help thinking of these secret networks when I read about the Amazon rainforest fires raging this month. Having read these books, spent the summer in our national forests and nurtured a love for woodland all my life, it’s unfathomable to me how someone like the Brazilian president must have grown up with so little love, imagination and care for living things, that he sees the natural world as mere timber and agricultural land. So many of us want to do something good with our short years on earth - what a mark he will leave on the world, and how much better it will be when he’s gone.

The idea of the ‘Wood World Web’ has inspired the beginning of my final poem, which I am now writing and can’t wait to share with you when it’s finished!