Save The Mother Tree Project

$1,694 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 19 people in 26 months
The old research truck for Suzanne Simard's Mother Tree Project, a groundbreaking study designed to save our forests from climate change, is busted.  Suzanne and her students can't get to their research sites to conduct their science on how Mother Trees connect, communicate and cooperate with other trees to make resilient forests.  We need your help to buy a sturdy truck to get us to our research forests. 

Hi friends.  I'm Suzanne Simard, a scientist and a mother.  I have contacted you because you have reached out to me about my research -- thank-you.   I love forests – not just because they nurture my spirit and saved my life – but because they provide clean air, pure water, biodiversity, and carbon storage.  They allow us all to lead healthy lives.  I have discovered something cool about forests that could help save them – and us -- from extinction.  I have learned there is a way for us to help our forests.

With my grad students, I have discovered that Mother Trees connect with and communicate with other trees and plants in the forest through an invisible underground fungal network. Mother Trees are the biggest, oldest trees in the forest – they are the hubs of an invisible subterranean internet – through which they transmit nutrients, water and defense signals to other trees, especially when the neighbors are in need.  Mother trees send carbon to seedlings in her shadow.  Deep-rooted Mother Trees pull up water from aquifers and transmit it to shallow rooted seedlings and shrubs.  Deciduous Mother Trees send nitrogen to conifers.  Injured Mother Trees send warning signals to neighbours when there is danger.  A Mother Tree recognizes which neighbors are kin, and can either favour or discourage them by shuttling carbon in different directions and amounts through the fungal internet.  These discoveries are upending our long-held notions of forests – from battle grounds of trees competing for resources -- to social communities built on cooperative relationships. 

These old notions - of forests as a bank of disconnected, competing objects – are killing us.  Hand-in-hand with this thinking, we have objectified and commodified forests as though there is no consequence of ever-increasing rates of clearcutting, spraying of pesticides to kill unwanted plants, insects and microbes, and planting of weedy tree species.  But there are deadly consequences to these practices.  These include huge pulses of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, changes in hydrological cycles, losses of biodiversity, loss of productivity, to name of few.

But I believe our discovery – that forests are social interdependent communities, like our own -- can be game-changing in our fight against climate change.  Once we understand that forests are connected, communicating and reciprocating -- as though they are sentient and intellingent -- deserving of our respect and needing our care, we can transform our treatment of them.  From clearcutting and planting them into biological deserts -- to stewarding them to be more productive, diverse and sustainable.  We can do this by conserving Mother Trees in different sized groups for their roles in nurturing and protecting the next generations of forests, just as we do as parents and grandparents raising our children.  We can do this by making sure the new generations of regenerating seedlings are well adapted to the changing climate and that they have the help of a diverse suite of neighbors, symbionts, pollinators, seed dispersers, etc. 

But I need your help.  Based on our discoveries, I have started a large, comprehensive experiment – called The Mother Tree Project – to figure out how to design innovative forestry practices so our future forests are resilient and productive as climate changes.  To connect people with forests to re-learn that 'we are one'. So that our forests don’t die from drought or burn down or get chewed up by insects as global temperatures rise.   The experiment includes a network 30 of forests across western Canada and is a collaborative effort with First Nations, government and industry.   We are testing a wide range of harvesting and regeneration practices to nurture forests for the future. This experiment is partially funded by NSERC, but we lost a large portion of our funding due to institutional errors. To make matters worse, our old research truck finally gave up the ghost and has left us without transportation to our research forests.  My students and I are ready to go with The Mother Tree Project, but we have no wheels.  Only an old VW van and our bicycles.

You can help us with The Mother Tree Project by donating toward the purchase of a research truck.  The truck has to be big, sturdy and reliable enough to transport me and my crew of graduate and undergraduate students to our remote research sites scattered up and down British Columbia.   For your donation, we will plant a seedling next to one of our Mother Trees in your name.  Planting will occur in the spring of 2018.  You can come visit your tree as it grows.  You can be part of this amazing research network.  I will post regular updates on the project.  I really need and appreciate your help. 

Thanks so much, Suzanne.  Please spread the word, post on your facebook pages.
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$1,694 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 19 people in 26 months
Created May 7, 2017
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Sabine Hoppner
1 day ago
Michaela Bartoňová
2 months ago

I have long been interested in nature and the human contribution to the destruction of nature. I am an artist and I am trying to influence people on the emotional side and get them to think. I've been watching your work since 2012 and I admire you. You are an inspiration for our team!

William Flickinger
7 months ago

In my own little 1/2 acre of woods, I am working to nurture the trees even more so now that I am aware of the connectiveness between the trees and our universe. Thanks for your good work.

elin kelsey
12 months ago

Hi Suzanne - You do such marvelous work. I have just posted your go fund me ask on #conservationoptimism and #earthoptimism. Is there a way you could attach it to your TED talk? It has reached so many hits and I bet those folks who watch it would be happy to contribute.

Shirley Lambrecht
13 months ago
Ling Cheng
14 months ago

Very inspired by your work

Anna Finke
22 months ago

I have always admired the research you and your colleagues have done on mycorrhizal networks - the lack of understanding about the interconnectedness of forests may just be our downfall. I'm currently working in China, where people do not seem to even comprehend how much damage they can do by disturbing the soil, not to think of the reforestation approaches. Planting trees alone does not mean restoring forest ecosystems. Green deserts, we call them. I hope this donation will enable you to provide more information on how we can truly sustainably restore and manage our forests.

Fran Rew (collaborative fundraiser)
23 months ago

Sharing the theme of "Forests" through the donated art collection of Sybil Rew, 8 collaborative fundraising organizations included the "Save the Mother Tree Project" in our Mobile Silent Art Auction’s fundraiser. Although the fundraiser is over, you can view our “Forests” themed auction description online at: http://www.accelevents/events/Forests This $300 donation, from the cities of Aurora and Denver, Colorado, is made through the collaborative efforts of the City Park Friends and Neighbors, the Cooperative Community Schools, the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, the Aurora History Museum, the Aurora Museum Foundation, the Aurora Artists Guild, and Topic-Talk Walks. We're grateful for the opportunity to learn more about our forests through the research shared in the TED talks and RadioLab interview from University of British Columbia's Forest Ecologist Suzanne Simard. We love learning more about the urban and rural forests, we all love.

Fran Rew
24 months ago

This Save the Mother Tree Project means so much to our collaborative groups, that we are honored to be able to coordinate a collaborative fundraising Mobile Silent Art Auction, which includes fundraising for this project. My mother-in-law, Sybil Rew, was an award-winning Aurora, Colorado, artist, who loved the experience of painting trees and tree leaves. On a rather last-minute choice basis, I volunteered to coordinate a collaborative fundraiser, from July 16 to 22, 2017, while we still have Sybil’s art, my time, and storage and viewing space to fundraise. At the end of July, Sybil’s former home will be sold, and her art donated elsewhere. 

The Event Description for this collaborative fundraiser just moved out of the DRAFT form this morning (July 6). We waiting to hear from Dr. Simard, about whether our introduction to the project looks acceptable. We have such a tight schedule! 

Here's the link for all who would like to spread the word, to increase the size of the pie to be shared at 10% of net earnings for each of the collaborating organizations (including, and especially, the Save the Mother Tree Project): My additional personal donation today, to the Save the Mother Tree Project (in addition to whatever additional money we can collaboratively raise for this project), is simply my expression of gratitude for being able to share the story of Dr. Simard's valued research in a format that the general public of all ages can understand. I call this format a form of "science edutainment," because the message is both entertaining and understandable to the general public. I'm grateful for all science that is shared with the general public, in all disciplines, at a level that can be enjoyably shared, and understood. Why? Because I believe that through our shared public understanding, through an edutainment format, we will be able to inspire each other at all levels of educaiton, to increase our individual and group potential for healthier co-creative choices - especially in relationships with both urban forests and urban development.

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