Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees investigates the importance of trees to our health and well-being. It discusses the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and the amazing health benefits associated with it. Author, conservationist and botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger is featured in the film. We chatted with her this week.

SDTC: It seems so obvious that spending time in nature is inherently beneficial. What don’t people understand about this?

DBK: They don’t know what nature is. How many people have looked closely at grass growing or milked a cow or walked in the woods or smelled the land? Half the population is in cities and they have forgotten what nature is like. They don’t remember it. Does a banker remember what a tree looks like? There’s the big problem. The urbanization of the world is a huge problem and we have left nature behind. We need nature like we need the air to breathe.

What did you learn about trees in your research that particularly impressed you? 

That the trees are connected to the oceans. From the top of the tree in the great distance you can see the life of a great whale. This is called the web of life; all of nature is interconnected. The oxygen from trees is necessary for all life on Planet Earth and we now understand better than ever before how forests and oceans are interconnected. The film has a very good sequence on this in Japan.

You note that building the global forest is the cheapest and best defense against climate change. What are practical ways we can implement that? 

Use the app here. Get to know how to use a shovel and plant an acorn. The oak is the first tree that you should plant because it is resistant to climate change. There are about 500 species of oak in North America and the more the climate changes the better they grow. One mature oak will sequester and hold over two tonnes of carbon dioxide in its lifetime.

As far as government goes – write letters, email, attend meetings and vote. Let your local representatives know that forest conservation is one of the most important issues. And let us look to one another for help.

Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees screens May 12 & 13 at the AGO. The May 12th screening will be followed by a panel discussion on ‘Greening the Planet from Urban Micro Planting to Forest Conservation’ with distinguished panelists: Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Dr. Faisal Moola (Suzuki Foundation), Dan Kraus (Nature Conservancy of Canada), Mike Watson (International Society of Arboriculture – Ontario) and Janet McKay (LEAF® -Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests). The May 13th screening will include a Q&A with Diana Beresford-Kroeger and filmmaker Jeff McKay. Get tickets here