Cooperation In The Forest

A forest is the ultimate sustainable cooperative community
Trees are but part of the larger forest, 2/3 of which is unseen under our feet. Also unseen is the incredible amount of cooperation that takes place in the forest.

There are many mutually beneficial relationships between species, creating a web of working together to form an entity much larger than any of its parts.

Everything has a role to play in building and maintaining the forest. It would continue in perpetuity, if we would allow. A forest is the ultimate sustainable, cooperative community.

Instead of wiping trees and forests out, we should be studying them and learning their valuable lessons.
Mushroom (mycorrhiza) Cooperation
"In the early 1990s mycologist Suzanne Simard and her team at Oregon State University discovered that cobwebby networks of mycorrhiza could connect not only many trees of the same species but also trees of different species.
They encountered birch connected to fir trees by up to ten different species of fungi. Moreover, birch trees growing in bright sunlight seemed to be subsidizing fir trees in the shade by sharing sugars via their mycorrhiza network."  - source: backyardnature


  1. Wow. makes me wonder how many species of lifeforms/ fungi, lichens, etc. have gone extinct from our forests in the past 150 years of logging never to return... Certain geo specific conditions may have been favorable for some species which will never recover--that would be a bad thought :( I think that goes for the big 350+ 400 ft trees, most of them grew in river valleys or protected spots, below 500 or 1000 feet elevation.

    I tossed together most of the accounts I compiled in the last couple years and some photos I found on the internet and old books into one concise blog post recently-- listing all the Doug references, stories, and measurements of Doug firs from 300 feet and up I could find. There are definitely hundreds more I could add if I had access to museum archives, libraries etc. And a similar list could be compiled of Sitka Spruce, and Noble fir, Grand fir-- and the giant western red cedars. One account mentions a 407 foot cedar tree!!!...Although I am not sure how reliable it is, cool to imagine!

    The oldest forests 150 years ago on Vancouver Island, B.C. and western Washington must have been twice or thrice as grand, in sheer scale, and much more complex with multi-complex strata from the ground up. The stuff they are finding in the red woods today is just a glimspe of what was eradicated in B.C.. New species are being found up in the canopies.

    Cheers, as always, fascinating blog!



    1. Micah - good to hear from you again. Thanks so much for the link. Wow! Recommended big tree viewing.

      I read recently that some scientists are now starting to highlight the fact that once the old growth is gone, it is gone forever. After industrial scale logging the original community has been wiped out, never to return in quite the same grandeur.

      With 99% of the original coastal Douglas-fir ecozone on Vancouver having gone under the saw, it spells the extinction of the big trees and the big forests. We can't even save the 1% that is remaining...

      Thanks again for the link to your amazing repository of some pretty impressive tree life!


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