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Nature Trees

The Power of Trees

How Ancient Forests Can Save Us if We Let Them

by (author) Peter Wohlleben

edited and translated by Jane Billinghurst

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2023
Trees, Ecology, Global Warming & Climate Change, Botany, Forests & Rainforests
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

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"Another love letter from Wohlleben to the green world… makes the case for how we should allow forests throughout the world to regrow and in the process help heal not only the climate but us, as well."—Lydia Millet, Oprah Daily

An illuminating manifesto on ancient forests: how they adapt to climate change by passing their wisdom through generations, and why our future lies in protecting them.

In his beloved book The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben revealed astonishing discoveries about the social networks of trees and how they communicate. Now, in The Power of Trees, he turns to their future, with a searing critique of forestry management, tree planting, and the exploitation of old growth forests.

As human-caused climate change devastates the planet, forests play a critical role in keeping it habitable. While politicians and business leaders would have us believe that cutting down forests can be offset by mass tree planting, Wohlleben offers a warning: many tree planting campaigns lead to ecological disaster. Not only are these trees more susceptible to disease, flooding, fires, and landslides, we need to understand that forests are more than simply a collection of trees. Instead, they are ecosystems that consist of thousands of species, from animals to fungi and bacteria. The way to save trees, and ourselves? Step aside and let forests—which are naturally better equipped to face environmental challenges—heal themselves.

With the warmth and wonder familiar to readers from his previous books, Wohlleben also shares emerging scientific research about how forests shape climates both locally and across continents; that trees adapt to changing environmental conditions through passing knowledge down to their offspring; and how old growth may in fact have the most survival strategies for climate change.

At the heart of The Power of Trees lies Wohlleben's passionate plea: that our survival is dependent on trusting ancient forests, and allowing them to thrive.

Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.

About the authors

Peter Wohlleben is the author of several books about the natural world, including The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Life of Animals, and The Heartbeat of Trees. His books for children include Can You Hear the Trees Talking?, Do You Know Where the Animals Live?, and Peter and the Tree Children. A longtime former forester, Wohlleben runs a forest academy in Germany that supports sustainable forest management and teaches adults and children about the many wonders of the forest.


Peter Wohlleben's profile page

Jane Billinghurst holds an M.A. in German and Philosophy from Oxford University and is the author of numerous nonfiction books, including Temptress: From the Original Bad Girls to Women on Top. She is also an editor and has been the director of Simon Fraser University's Summer Book Editing Workshop. She lives in Anacortes, Washington, where she can often be found tending her foxgloves and forget-me-nots or relaxing in a garden chair.

Jane Billinghurst's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Wohlleben. . . offers a pointed critique of harmful forestry practices and urges humans to let trees heal themselves. . . [T]he insights into trees’ surprising abilities captivate. . . Nature lovers should take note."
—Publishers Weekly

"Insightful and valuable. . . Wohlleben is a wide-ranging and meticulous researcher as well as a careful observer. . . This is an essential book for any botanist, forester, student of the environment or politician."
—The Winnipeg Free Press

"If we don't learn to leave the trees alone, the trees will eventually be alone anyway—but without us. Wohlleben brilliantly and readably shows us how urgent and how hard it is to do nothing."
—The Guardian

"Another love letter from Wohlleben to the green world. . . [The Power of Trees] makes the case for how we should allow forests throughout the world to regrow and in the process help heal not only the climate but us, as well."
—Lydia Millet, Oprah Daily

"Forester and bestselling environmental writer Wohlleben (Forest Walking, 2022) draws largely on observations of his home territory in Germany in this thoughtful look at how trees learn and adapt. . . the forest is often the last recipient of humanity's benevolence. The author is in his element here as a gentle purveyor of knowledge that provides a new perspective on a crucially important topic. His many fans will be enthused, and new readers will appreciate entering Wohlleben's evocative world."

"In clear, vivid prose and with impeccable reasoning, Peter Wohlleben makes a compelling case that almost everything we do in modern forestry management may be dead wrong. What should we do instead? Let the wisdom of the trees quell our human arrogance, heal the forest, and restore our sweet, green world."
— Sy Montgomery, author of How to Be A Good Creature

"Trees, says Peter Wohlleben, have wisdom. So does he. In this magisterial take on how forests can save the planet from our worst endeavours, the German forester warns us against the hubris of tree planting. For their forest wisdom is greater than ours. Planting is usually bad, a 'giant PR operation.' Instead, he says, the world needs the quiet magic of natural forest restoration. We are, at best, stewards of the world's forests. We must stand back and let them grow."
— Fred Pearce, author of A Trillion Trees: Restoring Our Forests by Trusting in Nature.

"The Power of Trees sends a powerful message that humankind will not survive unless we revolutionize the way we conserve and manage our planet's dwindling forests. Through eye-opening stories, Wohlleben underscores how trees and the biodiversity of the natural world present us with critically important solutions to the climate crisis. [It is an important wakeup call for individuals and large-scale forest managers alike!]"
—Jeffrey Horowitz, founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners and founding trustee of the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation

"Wohlleben continues to provide convincing and concrete research-based reasons why trees, and more specifically old growth forests, are critical to the health and survival of our planet and all that lives upon it. . . I would call this a must read for everyone!"
—Cori Cusker, Bright Side Bookshop, Flagstaff

"Peter Wohlleben is such a prolific author, you may look at The Power of Trees and wonder what he could possibly have left to say and move on. You'd be mistaken. . . A vital and important read for anyone who cares about our collective future on this planet."
—Tom Beans, Dudley's Bookshop Cafe, Bend

"An urgent and informative book that advocates for a new approach to managing forests that recognizes their complex nature as ecosystems rather than mere warehouses for wood. . . Wohlleben has faith that forests can rebound. He just hopes we'll still be around."
—Suzanne Morgan, Politics & Prose, Washington

"Wohlleben speaks to the importance of our ancient trees and forests. Rather than planting forests of new trees, he explains the huge benefits to be gained from stepping back and allowing the trees to do it themselves. Through his meticulous research and observation, he has discovered the extent to which ancient trees accumulate knowledge and pass it on the younger generations. If we can only trust them, and curb the desire to interfere, they have the power to heal our planet. Highly Recommended!"
—Becky Doherty, Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs

"From the "tree whisperer" (my nickname for Peter Wohlleben) comes his latest reveal of what it means to be a tree and what it means to be humans who are dependent on trees for our well-being. . . Whether you've read his previous bestseller—The Hidden Life of Trees—or are just now discovering the wonders of his writing, you'll get a real education out of this new book. . . I really want you to read this!"
—Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane

"Wohlleben has taken off his gloves and has named the enemy: foresters, and associated players like government agencies, lumber companies, lobbyists, PLUS the heavy machinery that kills soil for centuries (think of still-visible Roman roads). . .Wohlleben has nailed the solution in just a few strokes. FABULOUS!!!"
—Kay Wosewick, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee


Praise for The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben


"A declaration of love and an engrossing primer on trees, brimming with facts and an unashamed awe for nature."
Washington Post

"Heavily dusted with the glitter of wonderment."
The New Yorker

"This fascinating book will intrigue readers who love a walk through the woods."
Publishers Weekly

"In this spirited exploration, [Wohlleben] guarantees that readers will never look at these life forms in quite the same way again."
Library Journal

Other titles by Peter Wohlleben

Other titles by Jane Billinghurst

Our Little Farm

Adventures in Sustainable Living

by (author) Peter Wohlleben & Miriam Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

What's Wild Outside Your Door?

Discovering Nature in the City

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
edited and translated by Jane Billinghurst

Of Cockroaches and Crickets

Learning to Love Creatures That Skitter and Jump

by (author) Frank Nischk
translated by Jane Billinghurst
foreword by Carl Safina

The Secret Network of Nature

Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things— Stories from Science and Observation

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

Forest Walking

Discovering the Trees and Woodlands of North America

by (author) Peter Wohlleben & Jane Billinghurst

The Heartbeat of Trees

Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

Ancient Bones

Unearthing the Astonishing New Story of How We Became Human

by (author) Madelaine Böhme, Rüdiger Braun & Florian Breier
translated by Jane Billinghurst
foreword by David R. Begun


Finding Beauty in the Fiercest Season

by (author) Bernd Brunner
foreword by Mark Kurlansky
translated by Jane Billinghurst

The Secret Wisdom of Nature

Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things -— Stories from Science and Observation

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

Papa Goose

One Year, Seven Goslings, and the Flight of My Life

by (author) Michael Quetting
foreword by Stacey O'Brien
translated by Jane Billinghurst