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New York Times best-selling author to give free lecture at UNBC

Free lecture on the Mother Tree Network takes place April 7
suzanne-simard mother tree
Dr. Suzanne Simard will give the Doug Little Memorial Lecture at UNBC

New York Times best-selling author Dr. Suzanne Simard is coming to Prince George to give the annual Doug Little Memorial Lecture at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).

Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence and her work influenced films like the Tree of Souls in James Cameron’s Avatar, novels like "The Overstory" and TV shows including "Ted Lasso". Her TED Talks have also been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

The topic of Simard’s presentation at UNBC will be the Mother Tree Network, Helping Forests to Help Ourselves.

Simard, who is also a University of British Columbia (UBC) Forest Ecology professor, has spent her career studying the complex interdependent network of trees that collaborate to share nutrients and the key role that mother trees play in fostering these relationships.

Last year, she wrote the best-selling book Finding the Mother Tree: Finding the Wisdom of the Forest.

“Working with a circle of collaborators and Indigenous partners, we are creating the Mother Tree Network to help protect, manage, and restore the critical forests of Western Canada,” Simard says.

“It is rooted in the Mother Tree Project that is developing ecosystem-based management practices for protecting and restoring forests in the midst of the climate crisis.”

Simard is the project leader with the Mother Tree Project, a multi-year experiment examining forest resilience through sustainable harvesting and regeneration treatments. The project features nine sites across B.C., including the John Prince Research Forest near Fort St. James.

Informed by this research, as well as collaborations with local communities, the Mother Tree Research Network will work to protect the forests and accelerate an ecological transition from extractive to a regenerative economy.

The goals of the Mother Tree Network are five-fold: to protect large forest landscapes with a particular focus on old-growth trees; support Indigenous peoples and forest-based communities restore ecological, social, and economic resilience using a variety of financing and legislative mechanisms; establish learning communities focused on collaborative conservation, education, healing, and research; develop and support practices of sustainable, ecosystem-based management; and change forest valuation from expedient products to long-term health of forests.

“We have been pretty successful globally in mobilizing people to address the pandemic, and the world is now coming together to help Ukraine. I am confident we can spark the same kind of action to address the even bigger, existential problem of climate change,” Simard said.

The Doug Little Memorial Lecture series is a free, public event. Created in 1996, it is named for the late J.D. Little. Little, a former executive with Northwood Pulp and Timber Ltd., was a founding supporter of UNBC.

The lecture series is supported with an endowment from Northwood Pulp and Timber Limited (now Canfor) and Simard's talk takes place on April 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Canfor Theatre at UNBC’s Prince George Campus.

- with files from the Canadian Press