Peter Wohlleben born in Bonn, 1964, is a German forester and author who writes on ecological themes in popular language. After graduation from forestry school in Rottenburg am Neckar, he took up a job as a government wood ranger in the Rhineland-Palatinate in 1987. As he grew more familiar with the woodlands he was overseeing, he became disenchanted with the technologies, including insecticides, employed to manage them, on observing the damage they caused.
In his 2015 book about natural forests, Das geheime Leben der Baume:Was sie fühlen, wie sie kommunizieren - die Entdeckung einer verborgenen Welt, he takes the perspective of the trees, much as Jacques Cousteau took the perspective of the inhabitants of the oceans. He uses storytelling to convey information from the scientific literature in a manner that echoes Nikko Tinbergen's writing on animals, or Carl Sagan's writing and public presentations about astronomy. Among other phenomena, this book introduces for a popular audience the "Wood-Wide Web", through which nutrition and signals are exchanged among trees.
Professionally, Wohlleben manages a beech forest on behalf of the municipality of Hümmel, Germany. Until recently, he has offered regular tours of local forests.
Publications and News Coverage
Wohlleben began publishing books about his views on ecology and forest management in 2007. The appearance of his Das geheime Leben der Bäume through Random House's Ludwig imprint led to profiles and reviews in all the major German newspapers, including skeptical pieces in the business press. The book was featured in a cover story in Der Spiegel and appeared on the Spiegel bestseller list.
An English translation was published in September, 2016 under the title The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate. Translations into other languages are in progress.
The New York Times ran a profile of Wohlleben in January, 2016. The article describes him as a forester who devotes his professional efforts to preserving the forest rather than managing it for lumber production.
The documentary film “Intelligent Trees” features several of Wohlleben's observations. It portrays him alongside Suzanne Simard, a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, whose research supports most of Wohleben's observations about communication among trees.