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树木其实也有“朋友圈”

更新时间:2016-3-9 11:36:52 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

German Forest Ranger Finds That Trees Have Social Networks, Too
树木其实也有“朋友圈”

IN the deep stillness of a forest in winter, the sound of footsteps on a carpet of leaves died away. Peter Wohlleben had found what he was looking for: a pair of towering beeches. “These trees are friends,” he said, craning his neck to look at the leafless crowns, black against a gray sky. “You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light.”

冬日的森林幽深静谧,落叶层上的脚步声逐渐消逝。彼得·沃莱本(Peter Wohlleben)发现了此前在寻找的东西:一对高耸的山毛榉。“这些树是朋友,”他说着抬起头,看向黑色的没有叶子的树冠,映衬着灰色的天空。“你看到了吗,这些粗枝指向彼此的反方向。这样做不会挡住同伴的光。”

Before moving on to an elderly beech to show how trees, like people, wrinkle as they age, he added, “Sometimes, pairs like this are so interconnected at the roots that when one tree dies, the other one dies, too.”

为了展示树与人一样,会随着年龄的增长而增加皱纹,沃莱本走向了一棵年长的山毛榉。之前,他补充说,“有时候成对的树木在根上也是紧密相连的,一棵树如果死亡了,另一棵也会追随而去。”

Mr. Wohlleben, 51, is a very tall career forest ranger who, with his ramrod posture and muted green uniform, looks a little like one of the sturdy beeches in the woods he cares for. Yet he is lately something of a sensation as a writer in Germany, a place where the forest has long played an outsize role in the cultural consciousness, in places like fairy tales, 20th-century philosophy, Nazi ideology and the birth of the modern environmental movement.

今年51岁的沃莱本是一名个头很高的职业护林员。他腰杆笔直,身着暗绿色制服,看上去有点像是他打理的这片山毛榉林中的一棵。不过最近,沃莱本以作家的身份在德国引起了某种程度上的轰动。在德国,森林在很长一段时间里占据文化意识的突出地位,比如在童话故事、20世纪哲学、纳粹意识形态中,以及现代环保运动的诞生过程中。

After the publication in May of Mr. Wohlleben’s book, a surprise hit titled “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World,” the German forest is back in the spotlight. Since it first topped best-seller lists last year, Mr. Wohlleben has been spending more time on the media trail and less on the forest variety, making the case for a popular reimagination of trees, which, he says, contemporary society tends to look at as “organic robots” designed to produce oxygen and wood.

去年5月,沃莱本出版了一本书,意外走红,名为《树的隐秘生活:它们如何感知和交流——来自一个秘密世界的发现》(The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World)。森林随后在德国重新引起了关注。新书于去年登顶各大畅销书榜后,沃莱本在接受媒体的评判上花费了越来越多的时间,呆在森林里的时间变少了。整件事激发了人们对树木的再次想像。沃莱本说,现代社会总是将树看作“有机机器人”,用来产生氧气和木材。

PRESENTING scientific research and his own observations in highly anthropomorphic terms, the matter-of-fact Mr. Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.

通过高度拟人化的词语,沃莱本呈现了科学研究和他自己的观察,他注重事实,让读者、脱口秀观众及新闻阅读者高兴地了解到,森林中的树木是一种社会性的存在(生物学家其实很早便知道了)。树木可以数数、认知、记忆;可以照顾生病的邻居,可以通过真菌网络“树维网”(Wood Wide Web)发送电信号,警告同伴危险的来临;而出于某种未知的原因,它们还用根系为早已倒下的伙伴的古老残肢输送糖液,使其存活长达数世纪之久。

“With his book, he changed the way I look at the forest forever,” Markus Lanz, a popular talk show host, said in an email. “Every time I walk through a beautiful woods, I think about it.”

“他的这本书,让我永远改变了对森林的看法,”马库斯·兰茨(Markus Lanz)在邮件中写道,他是一名很受欢迎的脱口秀主持人。“每当我走进一片美丽的树林,都会想到它。”

Though duly impressed with Mr. Wohlleben’s ability to capture the public’s attention, some German biologists question his use of words, like “talk” rather than the more standard “communicate,” to describe what goes on between trees in the forest.

沃莱本捕捉公众注意力的能力让一些德国生物学家也感到印象深刻。但他们质疑沃莱本的用语,比如,在形容森林中树木之间的活动时,使用“谈话”而非更加标准的“交流”。

But this, says Mr. Wohlleben, who invites readers to imagine what a tree might feel when its bark tears (“Ouch!”), is exactly the point. “I use a very human language,” he explained. “Scientific language removes all the emotion, and people don’t understand it anymore. When I say, ‘Trees suckle their children,’ everyone knows immediately what I mean.”

可沃莱本说,这就是他的本意,他邀请读者想像树在脱皮时(“哎呦!”)会是怎样的情形。“我使用了非常通俗的人类语言,”他解释道。“科学语言去除了所有的情绪,导致人们就不再能够理解了。当我说,‘树哺乳它的孩子,’大家马上就能明白我的意思。”

Still No. 1 on the Spiegel best-seller list for nonfiction, “Hidden Life” has sold 320,000 copies and has been optioned for translation in 19 countries (Canada’s Greystone Books will publish an English version in September). “It’s one of the biggest successes of the year,” said Denis Scheck, a German literary critic who praised the humble narrative style and the book’s ability to awaken in readers an intense, childlike curiosity about the workings of the world.

在《明镜》(Spiegel)的非虚构类图书畅销榜上,《树的隐秘生活》仍排在首位。这本书已售出32万本,向19个国家销售了翻译版权(加拿大的灰石出版社[Greystone Books]将于9月出版英文版。)“这是全年最成功的一本书之一,” 德国文学评论家丹尼斯·舍克(Denis Scheck)说道,他赞扬了书中平实的叙事口吻,以及这本书激发起读者对于世界究竟如何运转所产生的强烈而又天真的好奇心。

The popularity of “The Hidden Life of Trees,” Mr. Scheck added, says less about Germany than it does about modern life. People who spend most of their time in front of computers want to read about nature. “Germans are reputed to have a special relationship with the forest, but it’s kind of a cliché,” Mr. Scheck said. “Yes, there’s Hansel and Gretel, and, sure, if your marriage fails, you go for a long hike in the woods. But I don’t think Germans love their forest more than Swedes or Norwegians or Finns.”

舍克补充说,《树的隐秘生活》一书的流行,并非是因为德国,而是因为现代生活方式。在电脑前度过大部分时间的人们,希望阅读关于自然的故事。“人们总说德国人有一种特殊的森林情结,但其实这是一种刻板印象,”舍克说。“是的,我们有《韩塞尔与葛雷特》(Hansel and Gretel),而且,对,如果你的婚姻失败了,会去森林远足。但我不认为德国人喜欢森林的程度会超过瑞典、挪威或者芬兰人。”

MR. WOHLLEBEN traces his own love of the forest to his early childhood. Growing up in the 1960s and ’70s in Bonn, then the West German capital, he raised spiders and turtles, and liked playing outside more than any of his three siblings did. In high school, a generation of young, left-leaning teachers painted a dire picture of the world’s ecological future, and he decided it was his mission to help.

沃莱本把对森林的热爱追溯到了他的童年。他成长于60、70年代的西德首都波恩,养蜘蛛、养海龟,比三个兄弟姐妹更喜欢在外面玩。高中时,那些立场左倾的年轻老师们在形容世界生态环境的未来时,表现出极度的悲观和担忧。沃莱本当时就下定决心,一定要贡献自己的力量。

He studied forestry, and began working for the state forestry administration in Rhineland-Palatinate in 1987. Later, as a young forester in charge of a 3,000-odd acre woodlot in the Eifel region, about an hour outside Cologne, he felled old trees and sprayed logs with insecticides. But he did not feel good about it: “I thought, ‘What am I doing? I’m making everything kaput.’ ”

他攻读了森林学,1987年开始为莱茵兰-普法尔茨州森林管理机构工作。之后在艾弗尔地区成为了一名护林员,管理3000多英亩的林地 。艾弗尔位于科隆郊外,距离科隆1小时左右的车程。砍倒老树,喷洒农药,做这些事让他并不开心:“我就想,自己这是在干什么呢?在让所有东西都变得更烂。”

Reading up on the behavior of trees — a topic he learned little about in forestry school — he found that, in nature, trees operate less like individuals and more as communal beings. Working together in networks and sharing resources, they increase their resistance.

阅读和研究树木的行为——这个话题他在林业学校中学习得甚少——他发现,在自然界,树木更多时候不是以个体形式生活,而是像社群一样。它们在网络中一起工作、分享资源、增强抵抗力。

By artificially spacing out trees, the plantation forests that make up most of Germany’s woods ensure that trees get more sunlight and grow faster. But, naturalists say, creating too much space between trees can disconnect them from their networks, stymieing some of their inborn resilience mechanisms.

通过人为地将树木隔开距离种植,人工林可以保证树木可以获取足够的阳光,生长得更快,大部分的德国森林都是这样。但是,自然学家说,在树与树之间制造太多的空间会使得他们失去网络联系,阻碍它们身上天生具备的顺应机制。

Intrigued, Mr. Wohlleben began investigating alternate approaches to forestry. Visiting a handful of private forests in Switzerland and Germany, he was impressed. “They had really thick, old trees,” he said. “They treated their forest much more lovingly, and the wood they produced was more valuable. In one forest, they said, when they wanted to buy a car, they cut two trees. For us, at the time, two trees would buy you a pizza.”

沃莱本受到吸引,开始调查培育林木的其他方法。他参观了一些瑞士和德国的私人林地,留下了深刻的印象。“他们有非常粗壮的古树,”他说。它们以更加有爱的方式对待树木,培养的林木也更值钱。在一处森林中,他们说,砍两棵树可以买一辆车。但我们z合理,砍两棵树只能买到一个披萨。”

Back in the Eifel in 2002, Mr. Wohlleben set aside a section of “burial woods,” where people could bury cremated loved ones under 200-year-old trees with a plaque bearing their names, bringing in revenue without harvesting any wood. The project was financially successful. But, Mr. Wohlleben said, his bosses were unhappy with his unorthodox activities. He wanted to go further — for example, replacing heavy logging machinery, which damages forest soil, with horses — but could not get permission.

2002年,沃莱本在艾弗尔建立了一片“埋葬林”,人们可以将至爱的骨灰埋藏在200年的大树下,放置带有逝者姓名的牌匾。这种做法在不用砍树的情况下带来收入。项目在经济上收获成功。但沃莱本说,他的老板对这种非常规的做法感到不太开心。沃莱本想要更进一步——比如,换掉沉重的伐木机器,那些东西破坏了森林土壤,转而以马匹来替代。不过他没能得到许可。

After a decade of struggling with his higher-ups, he decided to quit. “I consulted with my family first,” said Mr. Wohlleben, who is married and has two children. Though it meant giving up the ironclad security of employment as a German civil servant, “I just thought, ‘I cannot do this the rest of my life.’”

在与上级们斗争了十年之后,他决定放弃。“我首先和家人商量,”沃莱本说,已婚的他有两个孩子。虽然这意味着放弃德国公务员这个铁饭碗,但“我只是想,‘我不能就这样度过剩下的人生。’”

The family planned to emigrate to Sweden. But it turned out that Mr. Wohlleben had won over the forest’s municipal owners.

他全家计划移居瑞典。但最后,沃莱本说服了拥有这片森林的市政当局。

So, 10 years ago, the municipality took a chance. It ended its contract with the state forestry administration, and hired Mr. Wohlleben directly. He brought in horses, eliminated insecticides and began experimenting with letting the woods grow wilder. Within two years, the forest went from loss to profit, in part by eliminating expensive machinery and chemicals.

所以,十年前,市政当局冒了一次险,与州森林管理机构结束了合同,直接雇佣了沃莱本。沃莱本引入马匹,弃用杀虫剂,开始实验让树木肆意生长。不到两年,森林从亏损转为盈余,部分得益于去除了昂贵的机械和化学品。

Despite his successes, in 2009 Mr. Wohlleben started having panic attacks. “I kept thinking, ‘Ah! You only have 20 years, and you still have to accomplish this, and this, and that.’” He began therapy, to treat burnout and depression. It helped. “I learned to be happy about what I’ve done so far,” he said. “With a forest, you have to think in terms of 200 or 300 years. I learned to accept that I can’t do everything. Nobody can.”

尽管收获了这些成功,2009年,沃莱本又恐慌起来。“我不断地想,‘啊!你只有20年,但你要实现这个,这个,还有那个。’”他开始接受治疗,以应对职业倦怠和抑郁。治疗起到了效果。“我学会了对于已经做的事情感到开心,”他说。“谈到森林,不得不想到200年或者300年。我学会了接受自己没有办法什么都做到。没有人能够这样。”

He wanted to write “The Hidden Life of Trees” to show laypeople how great trees are.

他想要写下《树的隐秘生活》,向非专业人员展示树木的真实情况。

Stopping to consider a tree that rose up straight then curved like a question mark, Mr. Wohlleben said, however, that it was the untrained perspective of visitors he took on forest tours years ago to which he owed much insight.

沃莱本说,不再把树长得笔直视为理所当然,而是可以弯曲如问号,这得益于几年前他带领森林之旅时,游客们以他们非专业的眼光,对他拥有很大发言权的领域所做出的贡献。

“For a forester, this tree is ugly, because it is crooked, which means you can’t get very much money for the wood,” he said. “It really surprised me, walking through the forest, when people called a tree like this one beautiful. They said, ‘My life hasn’t always run in a straight line, either.’ And I began to see things with new eyes.”

“对于一位护林员而言,不挺直的树就是丑陋的,它意味着你没法从这样的树身上赚到钱。”他说。“令我惊讶的是,有一次在穿过森林时,人们称这样的一棵树很漂亮。他们说,‘我的生活也并没有总是直线前进啊。’然后我开始以新的眼光看待事情了。”

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