Everything I Need to Know About Ecology I Learned in the Forest


Vandana Shiva, the renowned environmental activist, credits much of her knowledge of ecology to learning it in the forest. Growing up watching peasant women organize nonviolent protests against logging operations that were depriving them of water, food, and fuel shows us that forests teach union and compassion – principles essential to equitable societies.

1. The forest is a society

Forests provide homes to a vast array of plants, animals, and fungi – as well as providing protection from natural disasters like landslides and flooding – protecting communities against these hazards while contributing to global water cycle processes and providing essential habitat. Furthermore, forests reduce air pollution and soil erosion while providing nutrients needed for plants to grow food production and helping prevent disease spread, so forests should be prioritized by humans alike.

A forest is a social environment like any other society. Each tree plays its part in the ecosystem. People can also play unique roles within communities, ranging from being friends, family members, spiritual teachers, or counselors – but regardless of who fills those roles – each person needs strong foundations in life – either trusting friends and family relationships, faith in a higher power or supportive local community members that provide support.

Forest school is an outdoor education delivery model whereby children, youth, and adults alike visit natural spaces to gain personal, social, technical, and wellbeing-enhancing skills. Forest schools serve as an alternative form of schooling for both young people and adults and offer unique outdoor learning experiences for everyone involved. Forest schools have gained international popularity as a practical learning experience that develops self-esteem, knowledge of nature, well-being improvement, and self-confidence among all its attendees. Forest schools also serve as a great alternative learning experience! They are utilized worldwide as alternative schooling models while providing learning opportunities that take advantage of outdoor environments.

Endnight Games developed The Forest as a first-person survival game back in 2014. The Forest’s captivating open-world gameplay and prosperous story campaign left its fans emotionally affected, and now The Forest 2, with its improved plot, is almost ready for release.

2. The forest is a community

A forest is an ecosystem comprised of living things – trees, soil, water, other plants, animals, and birds all interdependently exist in harmony, creating and supporting one another to ensure the survival of life – including our own! Forests play an integral part in providing us with clean air, freshwater, and food; without them, our lives would look very different indeed!

Forests can be defined as areas of land covered predominantly by trees and other forms of undergrowth vegetation; however, forests offer much more than this! From clear rivers to swim into tall rocks to climb and gorgeous wildflowers to scent, forests have much more to offer than trees alone! Additionally, depending on where they exist in the world, they may also feature unique climate and geological characteristics that define them further.

Vandana Shiva notes in her book that much of what she knows about ecology was first learned while volunteering for the Chipko Movement, a nonviolent response to deforestation in Garhwal Himalayas led by Bachni Devi, a village woman who led resistance against tree felling with women from her village and community. When officials arrived to enforce an order against tree felling, they noticed women holding up lit lanterns at daylight; when asked, these women explained they were there to teach forestry lessons!

These peasant women from the Garhwal Himalaya understood the true worth of forests in their environment – springs and streams produced by forests provided spring water, fodder for their livestock, fuel for their hearths, as well as fodder for dwellings when their forests disappeared. Furthermore, without access to forests for basic needs like water and firewood, they had to travel great distances for supplies like these.

3. The forest is a home

Forests provide habitat to an abundance of plants and animals, as well as food, water, fuel, and insulation to the atmosphere and soil. Their presence plays a critical role in global ecology – forest ecosystems can be found all around the world and are an essential source of timber, fiber, and recreational opportunities, as well as recreational tourism destinations.

Forests are vast expanses of trees covering large tracts of land. Forests may be found anywhere – in a country, city, or state. A forest may contain various varieties of trees, which makes it ideal as both a living space and a working location for humans.

Vandana Shiva, an ecofeminist and founder of Navdanya Farm, says she gained much of her ecological knowledge from growing up in the forests of the Himalayas. She recounts the story of the Chipko movement as an example of nonviolent protest against large-scale deforestation occurring there; peasant women held lanterns lighted from within all day to block officials from cutting down trees in public view.

4. The forest is a place of healing

Humans have become increasingly disconnected from nature, leading to serious health consequences both personally and globally. But there’s good news: forests help heal us.

Li’s research expands on a Japanese tradition called shinrin-yoku (forest bathing). This simple activity–walking through woods and taking in their atmosphere–has been shown to reduce stress, boost immunity, relieve depression, and even lower blood pressure. While people intuitively know spending time among trees is good for them, only recently has science confirmed this benefit.

Forest explorers of today are making the most of this science. Forest-based wellness has grown into an international movement, from prenatal classes in the woods to forest kindergartens and even funeral services using trees as part of funeral plans. Canada’s National Healing Forest Initiative provides reconciliation and healing all at once: visits to our country’s forests have tripled since the publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report in 2015.

Forests provide an opportunity to reconnect with nature, an endeavor that begins right at home. In Sons of the Forest, players enter an enchanted world in which they must build a base and harvest resources such as food. As your base expands, so too does its presence among mutants that roam nearby; should any see your creation, they’re likely to want to destroy it!

Healing Forests have emerged across Canada to raise awareness of residential schools and their legacy, reflecting Canada’s natural landscape as a place for reconciliation and healing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Some are located on church grounds, while others can be found along public trails.

5. The forest is a place of connection

A forest represents everything nature should be: interconnected and intelligent with spiritual significance.

At first blush, this idea may sound romantic, but biologist Suzanne Simard has spent decades of research assessing what it means for forests to communicate with each other or “communicate with each other.” She discovered that trees form part of an intertwined network similar to the Internet; mother trees serve as central hubs of this communication system. They recognize kin and strangers and impart wisdom to their seedlings, sending recognition signals and safety dispatches as quickly as a human sending email. Furthermore, when distress signals from neighbors arise, they act soon by increasing nutrient supplies to them.

To connect with nature and to find peace within, she suggests opening oneself up to its alluring scents, inhaling its healing aerosols and curative infrasounds, and quieting one’s mind so as to embrace and become Nature. There is no need for travel either; any green space, from urban parks to suburban woods trails, offers us an opportunity to connect and learn from forests.

To gain more insights into connecting with nature, check out her book The Forest for Everyone or follow her online at her website and Twitter handle, @theforestgirl. This post originally appeared in The Conversation; please note that all examples shown come from a programmatically collected dataset of current usage rather than representing opinions held by Merriam-Webster or its editors.