What Trees Talk About

A revealing look at the secret life of trees - how they communicate, wage war, and work together to transform our world.
Available on CBC Gem

What Trees Talk About

Nature of Things

Combining spectacular panoramic visuals with high-end CGI, this stunning nature documentary explores the secret life of trees, and how the world’s last great forest has the power to shape not only the lives of the plants and animals that live within it but our lives and life across the entire globe. New science is revealing that trees are far more dynamic than we ever realized, with a highly sociable nature and a penchant for generosity, allowing them to form vibrant communities.

In What Trees Talk About, host David Suzuki and scientists working in boreal regions around the world investigate the many unexpected ways that the trees of the boreal forest communicate with each other, form friendships with neighbouring animals, and team up to face the elements.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: A Quebec study shows how trees share food and water to survive together.

The boreal is the Earth’s largest land-based biome, covering over half of Canada’s land mass. Its extreme environment, with temperatures ranging from -50 degrees Celsius in the winter to a blazing +40 in the summer, places a high demand on the flora and fauna of the region: adapt to survive. Recent studies have led scientists to discover that not only can the boreal’s trees withstand these conditions — they are some of the most dynamic and influential life forms on the planet.

What Trees Talk About offers a fresh perspective, debunking the common myth that trees are inactive, solitary beings. “We have this general idea that trees are independent individuals,” says ecologist Annie Desrochers, “But what we have discovered is that they’re not independent, they will form unions.”

Using a ‘science in action’ approach, the film takes viewers on a fascinating journey into the heart of the boreal, revealing the hidden social connections that allow trees to thrive in harsh conditions, from sharing food and water through their roots to starving out the squirrels that stand in the way of reproduction - even banding together to change the weather.

The World’s Biggest Forest Is In Our Own Backyard And We Need To Protect It
Canada’s Boreal Forest Is A Thriving Social Community of Trees That Work Together
Boreal Forests Store Carbon, But Maybe Not For Much Longer

Director Ryszard Hunka brings us to forests around the world, using CGI animation to uncover the complex systems that allow boreal trees to thrive, in turn playing a key role in sustaining all life on earth. Each of the featured scientists brings an infectious enthusiasm to their study of the northern forest, but also an undercurrent of concern: will this force of nature, which has been integral to the health of our planet for over 10,000 years, still be self-sufficient in the onslaught of climate change?

Biologist Jill Johnstone believes it’s in our best interests to find out: “What happens in the boreal doesn’t necessarily stay in the boreal - it’s important to all of us.”