Finding the Mother Tree

Suzanne Simard / Knopf / 368 pages

To care about animal welfare is to care about the environment in which animals live. In Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, Dr. Suzanne Simard puts it simply: “Mistreatment of one species is mistreatment of all.” 

Today, Simard is an accomplished, well-respected forest ecologist. But how did she get to where she is in her career—and in life? Finding the Mother Tree recounts Simard’s professional and personal paths—paths forged by her willingness to challenge the status quo. Whether questioning forestry management policies or testing the limits of her own physical capabilities, Simard’s life is defined by her tenacity and commitment to land stewardship, rather than land domination. 

The book opens with Simard as a young adult, recalling summers on her family homestead in the woodlands of British Columbia. A new recruit for a logging company, Simard quickly discovers the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated field, where she experiences an alarming disconnect between the standard forestry practices of the time and her implicit understanding of the forest. With unwavering childlike wonder and increasing wisdom, Simard walks readers through decades of research, relationships, loss, healing, and discovery, leading us to question our role as individuals within our own community—just as singular trees participate in their own interconnected forest ecosystem. 

Ecologists, environmentalists, and animal advocates alike will enjoy Simard’s narrative, as will any proponent of ecosystem-based science and science-based policy. This thought-provoking book will challenge readers to consider the ability of plants to communicate with one another—and with us.

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