Peter Wohlleben

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Peter Wohlleben
Wohlleben in 2012
Bonn, West Germany
OccupationForester, author
Notable work
The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate

Peter Wohlleben (born 1964) is a German forester and author who writes on ecological themes in popular language.[1] 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 due to the damage caused by the techniques and technologies he was expected to employ, including the felling of mature trees and the use of insecticides.[2]

In his 2015 book about natural forests, Das geheime Leben der Bäume:Was sie fühlen, wie sie kommunizieren - die Entdeckung einer verborgenen Welt,[3] (The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World) he takes the perspective of the trees, much as Jacques Cousteau took the perspective of the inhabitants of the oceans.[citation needed] Among other phenomena, this book introduces for a popular audience the "Wood-Wide Web", through which nutrition and signals are exchanged among trees.

In 2016 he published his book Das Seelenleben der Tiere which was translated into English and published under the title The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief, and Compassion — Surprising Observations of a Hidden World in 2017.[4] His 2012 book Kranichflug und Blumenuhr, was translated as The Weather Detective: Rediscovering Nature's Secret Signs in 2018. His new book The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things – Stories from Science and Observation is slated for release in 2019.

Professionally, Wohlleben manages a beech forest on behalf of the municipality of Hümmel, Germany.[5] He has offered regular tours of local forests; in 2017 one is programmed for August based on The Hidden Life of Trees.[6]

Publications and news coverage[edit]

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[7][8] and reviews[9] in all the major German newspapers, including skeptical pieces in the business press.[10][11] The book was featured in a cover story in Der Spiegel and appeared on the Spiegel bestseller list.[12]

An English translation was published in September 2016 under the title The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate [fr] with a foreword by Tim Flannery, published in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.[13] Translations into other languages are in progress.[14]

The New York Times ran a profile of Wohlleben in January, 2016.[15] The article describes him as a forester who devotes his professional efforts to preserving the forest rather than managing it for lumber production. "For us what’s important is what will happen in the next 100 years or next decade. Not even all that plastic in the ocean will destroy nature—it will sink into the sediment eventually—but in the next decade ocean fish with micro-plastics in them that can cause cancer will be an important issue for us," Wohlleben told Maclean's (5 March, 2019) under the heading "The best way to save nature? Do nothing."[16]

The documentary film Intelligent Trees[17] 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 Wohlleben's observations about communication among trees.[citation needed]


  • The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World. (Greystone Books, 2015) ISBN 978-1771642484.
  • The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things ― Stories from Science and Observation. (Greystone Books, 2017) ISBN 978-1771643887.


  1. ^ Wohlleben, Peter. "Peter Wohlleben - Bücher". Förster & Autor Peter Wohlleben (in German). Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  2. ^ Mark Brown (2017-05-27). "Trees talk to each other, have sex and look after their young, says author | Environment". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  3. ^ Wohlleben, Peter (2015). Das geheime Leben der Bäume (in German). München: Ludwig. ISBN 978-3-453-28067-0.
  4. ^ Wohlleben, Peter (2017-11-07). The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief, and Compassion — Surprising Observations of a Hidden World. Greystone Books Ltd. ISBN 9781771643023. Lay summaryThe Washington Post (2017-12-08). Foreword by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. First published in 2016 in German, under the title Das Seelenleben der Tiere. Translated from the German by Jane Billinghurst.
  5. ^ Leslie, André; Taube, Friedel (November 19, 2013). "Protecting Germany's old forests". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Two-hour hike with Peter Wohlleben 7 August 2017". Waldakademie Hümmel. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  7. ^ Weinl, Volker (July 25, 2015). "Können Bäume wirklich miteinander reden?" [Can Trees really converse with each other?] (in German). Bild GmbH & Co. KG. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  8. ^ Heidtmann, Jan (November 20, 2015). "Der Baumflüsterer" [The Tree Whisperer]. Sueddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  9. ^ Freund, Wielland (July 4, 2015). "Aus dem Bäumischen von Peter Wohlleben" (in German). WeltN24 GmbH. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  10. ^ zu Guttenberg, Philipp (December 23, 2015). "Sehnsuchtsort Wald" [The Woods: a place of yearning]. Handelsblatt (in German). Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  11. ^ Mühl, Stephanie (November 29, 2015). "Bäume sind so tolle Lebewesen" [Trees are such fantastic creatures] (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  12. ^ Maus, Stephan (17 October 2015). "Dieser Rebell mischt den deutschen Wald auf" [This rebel presents a new view of the German forest] (in German). GmbH. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  13. ^ Wohlleben, Peter (September 2016). The Hidden Life of Trees. Vancouver, Canada: Greystone. ISBN 978-1-771-64248-4.
  14. ^ Wohlleben, Peter. "Peter Wohlleben - English Home Page". Förster & Autor Peter Wohlleben. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  15. ^ McGrane, Sally (January 29, 2016). "German Forest Ranger Finds That Trees Have Social Networks, Too". New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Intelligent Trees - The Documentary". Retrieved February 9, 2017.

External links[edit]