“How astonishing that when I visit an old-growth redwood forest in California, I am visiting a place that may have been forested continually for fifty million years!”  – Joan Maloof

I came across Maloof’s Nature’s Temples: The Complex World of Old-Growth Forests quite by chance while I was browsing the Kindle Store. The title sounded intriguing, especially after reading The Secret Life of Trees: How They live and Why They Matter (by Colin Tudge), so I could not resist reading it. Joan Maloof doesn’t disappoint and her book is packed with information (like the fact that the tallest tree in the world is some 380 feet tall!) while remaining accessible to the lay reader.

These are just some of the diverse chapters contained in the book:

  • What is an old-growth forest?screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-10-27-22-am
  • History of the forest
  • Forests and carbon
  • Birds and their habitat preferences
  • The role of insects in the forest
  • Fungi in the ecosystem
  • What lichens tell us about forests
  • Do humans need the forest?

Maloof looks at and explains the extremely intricate and intricately balanced life of the old-growth forests and rightly bewails their loss to logging, deforestation, and other means of human interference. The harm of our interference is, after all, becoming more and more apparent and there is also now studies to show that, even if forests are replanted, the same abundance of flora and fauna will not be present again – even after many decades.

“We know we need clean air and clean water, but do humans need beauty?” — Joan Maloof

Maloof also notes in Nature’s Temples that researchers from Japan and elsewhere have shown that a walk in the forest can improve one’s mood, reduce stress hormones, strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, and reduce blood sugar levels. This kind of walk in the woods even have a name in Japanese – shirin-yoku; “wood-air bathing”.

“… we should always allow and encourage the left-alone woods, for it is there that our true riches reside. Today, and in the future, these are the places of refuge – for both the species we share the planet with and for our human spirit.” — Joan Maloof

I can highly recommend this book to those who love nature, woods, and trees or even just those who wish that there really are shepherds of the forests residing deep in the forests. After reading this book you will want to go and walk in a forest and – yes – even hug some trees.

Maloof, Joan. (2016) Nature’s Temples: The Complex World of Old-Growth Forests. Portland: Timber Press Inc. (Illustrated by Andrew Joslin.)

 

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