A whisper from the woods

Mushrooms: The Internet of Trees

Jun 26, 2023

By Patty Rangel, Our Regional Coordinator for California, USA / Baja California, Mexico, International Ambassador to the Global Ecovillage Network and Board of Directors, San Diego Mycological Society

In recent years, scientists have discovered that mushrooms are much more than just a  tasty addition to your favorite dish. In fact, they are the “Internet of trees” – a vast network of underground fungi that connects trees and other plants in a similar way to how the Internet connects people.

The research on the “internet of trees” began in the 1990s, when Canadian ecologist  Suzanne Simard discovered that trees in a forest were connected through a vast network of underground mycorrhizal fungi known as the “wood wide web”. They attach themselves to the tree’s roots and help it to absorb nutrients from the soil in exchange for sugars produced by the tree’s photosynthesis.

The mycorrhizal network is made up of microscopic filaments called hyphae, which connect the roots of different plants and trees. These hyphae act like an underground internet, allowing plants to exchange nutrients, water, and even hormones. For example,  if one tree is under stress due to drought or disease, it can send out hormones to warn other nearby trees of the danger. The other trees can then prepare themselves for the impending threat. But it’s not just trees that are connected through these underground networks. These fungi form a mutually beneficial relationship with trees and other plants,  including shrubs, herbs, and even grasses. This means that entire ecosystems are linked together!

Human beings can help trees and mushrooms by practicing “mycorestoration” in regenerative projects. With the Global Tree Initiative working towards reforestation and preserving natural habitats, it is important to share how mycorestoration can supply innovative ways to mitigate the impact of human activities. Fungi are natural decomposers that break down complex organic matter, like dead trees, into simpler compounds that can be absorbed by plants. This decomposition process is crucial for the health of our forests, as it contributes to nutrient cycling, soil formation, and carbon sequestration. By introducing native fungi species into areas where deforestation has occurred, we can help regenerate soil and support the growth of new trees. Fungi form symbiotic relationships with tree roots, improving their ability to absorb water and nutrients. This increased access to resources accelerates tree growth and improves their resilience to stress, such as drought or disease.

Fostering sustainable communities through mycorestoration can be conducted through global partnerships that promote ecology within Ecovillage Design Education (EDE’s).  The Global Ecovillage Network‘s presence in five continents and in over 8000  communities around the planet, helps the regenerative approach to community building and preservation of existing forests. By promoting sustainable land management practices and reducing our reliance on extractive industries, ecovillages can help prevent deforestation and protect the habitats of countless plant and animal species.

In conclusion, the integration of mycorestoration and ecovillage principles can significantly contribute to the Global Tree Initiative’s mission to protect and restore our planet’s forests. By utilizing the power of fungi and promoting sustainable living practices,

We can create resilient ecosystems that support both human communities and the natural environment. As an advocate for these principles, I am proud to be a part of the global movement to regenerate our forests and cultivate a sustainable future for us all.

______

Patty Rangel is a 2022 GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) representative to the United Nations Environment Program (General Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya), a graduate of the United Nations Summer Intensive Program (UN Headquarters in New York City),  Honorary Burning Man Earth Guardian, and a member of EcoVillages in France, Italy, Mexico, and  the USA. Patty is passionate about ARTivism and empowering Indigenous Nations. She has been involved with GEN since 2007.

If you want to get in contact with Patty, send her an email at Patty@PlantGrowSave.org

 

 

 

Please share this. Thank you!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other blog posts

Ask me almost anything, May 2024

As tree planters, we take for granted the collection of rainwater to irrigate our plants.  Whether we live in an urban or rural setting, rainwater harvesting is a relatively cheap and effective way to sustain the water needs of ourselves, our plants and our animals.

Traveling with Trees, May 2024

Today I am sharing about a special tree, the Weeping Bottlebrush. This particular tree lives in Sebastian, Florida in the United States. It is a haven for all kinds of creatures such as birds, squirrels, lizards, lichen, and bugs too!

Food for Thought, May 2024

Food defines us – what we eat, how we eat it, how many times a day we do so! Our diets and the way they evolved have deep historical, cultural, and even religious roots, making this a sensitive topic for many and a complicated target for change.

As within so without

We are well aware of the massive positive impact that planting trees has both on our environment and our physical well-being. So, I’d like to talk about less commonly explored side effects – the impact of planting trees on our mind, our mental health, and even on our perception of reality. 

Food For Thought, April 2024

According to a WWF report, Bending the Curve, our diets are the leading cause of death all over the world. Unbalanced diets and lifestyles are responsible for the rising numbers of obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Community Blog, March 2024

For this year’s theme, International Day of Zero Waste highlights the importance of supporting waste management worldwide and promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Ask me almost anything, March 2024

Wetlands are saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. This saturation creates an environment with unique soil conditions and functions, which shape the adaptations of the plants that call wetlands “home”.

Traveling with Trees, March 2024

Jennifer is now back on a bi-monthly basis to tell us about her experience in Nature and with trees. Join us in welcoming and thanking Jennifer and her new column Traveling with Trees.

Food for Thought, March 2024

Paired with last month’s recipe, this one is inspired by the Tree Sisters which make a great combo both on the fileds and on our plates.

Taking Your Business Paperless for the Good of the Planet

These days, more and more businesses are going paperless to save money, and space, and improve their operations in today’s digital age

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our newsletter. Stay tuned to all our news. There is more to come.

You have Successfully Subscribed!