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Forest Talk Radio launches in North Bay

Many escape into the woods to find solitude but now there’s a way in the North Bay area to hear what trees are thinking along a trail.

App imagines conversations between trees along trail

Those who hike through the Laurier Woods Conservation Area in North Bay can now access Forest Talk Radio. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Many escape into the woods to find solitude but now there's a way in the North Bay area to hear what trees are thinking along a trail.

Forest Talk Radio is new feature at the Laurier Woods Conservation Area in North Bay. It was created by David Merleau, an independent media artist.

Merleau says he first got the idea after watching a Ted Talk on the topic of the "wood wide web", which focuses on how plants communicate. It prompted a conversation with his mother who mused there must be an app for that. Merleau couldn't find one, so he decided to create it.

He says he decided to focus on the Laurier Woods Conservation Area and channeled his artistic side to imagine the conversations trees would be having.

To listen in, users can download the Forest Talk Radio app onto their smartphones.

"All you do is walk around and you find these hidden entries that are strewn throughout the trail," he said.

"These are basically entries that come up onto your map as you approach them. You will start to hear the conversations going on as you approach a particular area."

From there, people get to hear what the trees are saying — or Merleau's interpretation of what they are saying.

"So in one particular case there's this pine tree that's remembering the experience of humans when they first came to the area," he explained.

David Merleau is an independent media artist in North Bay. He created an app called Forest Talk Radio, which currently features stories from the Laurier Woods Conservation Area. (Submitted by David Merleau)

Another conversation involves a cherry tree and maple tree rooted very close together.

"You basically hear them bickering back and forth," he said.

"It's quite funny, but you also hear them resolve their differences and try and figure out how to co-exist."

Merleau says it's been an interesting experiment of nature, technology and relationships.

"It's been a learning process to really sort of understand the complexity of relationships that we have around us," he said.

"I definitely appreciate what this project has done to be able to help me better understand the relationship that humans have with nature but also the relationship between the world of technology and the world of nature."

We learn what Forest Talk Radio is all about and why you'll want to tune in. 6:34

With files from Wendy Bird

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