The ‘wood wide web’ theory charmed us all – but now it’s the subject of a bitter fight among scientists

By Sophie Yeo
The Guardian
July 9, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

You have probably heard the theory, that the health of forests depends on common mycorrhizal networks. …Not ringing any bells? Try switching “common mycorrhizal network” with “wood wide web”, the more familiar term that has described this phenomenon in hundreds of more mainstream places: novels, magazines, films and television series. The wood wide web is one of those rare things – a scientific theory that has captured the popular imagination. …The concept of the wood wide web originated in a series of scientific papers led by the forest ecologist Suzanne Simard. No one can blame an academic for framing their work in terms the layperson can understand, even if some precision is lost along the way. But trouble arises when a scientific theory gains a life of its own, becoming culturally relevant in a way that ignores, simplifies, or contradicts the facts that birthed it.

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