Why forests are our best chance for survival in a warming world

Trees provide habitats, resources, and refuge, and they help absorb fossil fuels’ carbon emissions. They are also at profound risk, but there's still time to act.

Despite seeing the forest for the trees, Suzanne Simard once faced harsh criticism for her groundbreaking work.

The professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia bucked the prevailing theory that a forest’s trees were isolated individuals. Her experiments showed that trees live interdependently, sharing resources via belowground networks. Simard’s essay “Why all life on Earth depends on trees” emphasizes how ecosystems rely on those connections, a truth that’s at the root of this special issue.

Forests keep our world in balance. They’re the “lungs” of the planet, drawing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen. They provide habitat for countless species. And in a warming world, they’re our best chance for survival.

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