Can understanding plant intelligence change attitudes and behaviour towards plants?
There is a field of science that not many people know about, and many scientists haven’t had the experience of, to make informed comments. Many people not familiar with intelligence existing beyond primates will dismiss it, even ridicule it as they do the meaning in children’s stories, shamanism, animalism or even quantum science. For some it may threaten their justification of their current actions so they need to hang onto their own ‘truth’. It is an area called Plant Intelligence. Plants can learn, have memory and are intelligent, however the mechanism is different to that in humans. They do not have brains or neurons.
My interest in plant communication was stimulated when I became a Treesister and met Ellen who could communicate with trees, especially the Redwoods. Ellen spent days at a time hiking and sitting with the Redwoods. They provided her with great insights into navigating our turbulent world. Ellen Dee Davidson’s book ‘Wild Path to the Sacred Heart’ provides an amazing insight into her experiences. She shone a light on a path for me. If we follow our hearts we too can have greater connection with Nature. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1733627502/ref=ppx_od_dt_b_asin_title_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
Since reading Ellen’s book I have heard of more people, especially women who can connect deeply with trees. Usually it would be when they are in a meditative state, which slows their brain waves to alpha or beta and generally slows the whole body and its increases receptive skills. Depending on your current beliefs you may consider the ability or process as tapping into the universal consciousness, a quantum field of thoughts travelling not as matter but as energy, or a spiritual being channeling the thoughts and words (however the person senses them which may or may not be like an actual human voice) or the actual consciousness of the tree. How could we know? We don’t have the tools within our current science technology to test it.
However, Monica Gagliano, Research Associate Professor in Evolutionary Ecology previously at the University of Western Australia, and now at the University of Sydney has done experiments based on methods used for studying animal behavior. Monica is the leader in research and dissemination of the new field of Plant Bioacoustics. Just type her name and you will see she has authored many articles, several books, and presented many public talks.
To quote her web site… “Plant bioacoustic is a newly-emerged field of plant communication. Plants produce sound waves in the lower end of the audio range as well as an overabundance of ultrasonic sounds. By capturing the signals emitted by plants under different environmental conditions, I am exploring the ecological significance of these sounds to communication among plants and between plants and other organisms.…
Plant cognition is a new and exciting field of research directed at experimentally testing the cognitive abilities of plants, including perception, learning processes, memory and consciousness. The emerging framework holds considerable implications for the way we perceive plants as it redefines the traditionally held boundary between animals and plants.” (https://www.monicagagliano.com accessed 26-01-2020)
This fascinating work may help those who easily dismiss the narrative supplied by people like Ellen who receive messages not only from trees but animals, elements and ancestors. Indigenous people who have remained connected to the land, plants and animals have thrived for centuries by accessing such knowledge. The knowledge of what plants to eat, to use as medicine or to avoid has been handed down for thousands of years. Where did this knowledge come from? Was it instinct, universal collective knowledge or communication with the plants or plant spirits as Manari, shaman of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest explained to me?
When you consider the super abilities of Yogis and free divers who can control their breath to limits which most of us would expire at we must accept that humans are nowhere near their potential in expanding our receptive abilities in hearing sound. If we look into Monica’s research and slow down to ‘plant time’ we may find we can hear, or in some other way sense the acoustic sounds they produce. We can already use microphones to hear the sounds; therefore it is likely some of us can hear them without devices.
Recently I have heard that the trees are calling for our help.
Many different sounds have been recorded and plant scientists who reproduced the conditions trees are exposed to including drought, inside an agar plate have discovered the sound a stressed tree makes. “Inside tree trunks are bundles of specialized tubes called xylem, which rely on the attractive forces between water molecules as well as those between water and plant cells to lift liquid to the highest leaves and branches….In drought-stricken trees, … increased pressure can cause the water column to break, allowing dissolved air to form bubbles that block water flow… called cavitations,… Since cavitations can kill trees, scientists and forest managers want to know when they are increasing.” Hopefully if water can be supplied the trees will live. The science can tell us which trees are calling for help. But who will listen?
They are asking that we stop cutting them down, polluting and increasing saline levels in the water. We need to plant and nurture many more. The trees need the underground water and their relations, other trees in forests, where vapour is transpired and carried through the air to create rain. And maybe they need our songs and love as well.
Another account of sounds produced by trees is given by David Haskell in ‘The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connections”. David uses microphones attached to recorders to listen to trees and some of these sounds can be attributed to movement of water through cells and the zylem…but he also listens deeply. He is awake to the interconnections of all life. To quote a review, “Through his exploration, Haskell shows that this networked view of life enriches our understanding of biology, human nature and ethics. When we listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, we learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance and beauty.”
Activities to do
- The first action we can take is to reflect on our love for nature, called biophillia. Recall a time in your childhood when you were in awe of Nature’s beauty. Were you walking in bush-land or forest? Was it a flower in your grandparent’s garden? Use all your senses to remember how it felt in your body. Gather gratitude in your heart and thank the plant or animal that gave you the gift of awe. Continue to recall several times when you felt deep admiration for Nature’s beauty. Sense if you can feel this in your heart. Now radiate the heart felt love back to Nature. Words, song, thoughts or an energy vibration may accompany this.
- Can you remember any time in your childhood when you wanted to share the beauty of Nature with a grown-up but they were too busy or not interested in what you were showing? Maybe they were even disgusted or wanted to kill it (imagine a beautiful green caterpillar that is eating your broccoli). What effect might this have had on the little child? Can we keep the innocent love for Nature alive as we grow up? Can we learn from listening deeply? Will it make a difference?
Breathing with the trees
This activity is taken from a video of Sadhuguru speaking at the World Economic Forum.
- Arrange for a group of people sit down under some trees, eyes closed following a process of centring and focusing on their breath. As they breathe out say:-.”Your exhalation is the trees inhalation, [breathe in] the trees exhalation is your inhalation”. “Reflect that one half of your breathing apparatus is out there on the tree, what would you do without it?” (https://www.facebook.com/20781959145/posts/10157973078004146/)
- To associate listening and breathing with the trees to the wetlands, specifically Point Grey, Peel-Harvey Estuary I invite you to watch & read the slide show of photos I took when i visited the site where developers want to build a marina with associated housing and shopping facilities. I created a story line with the intention of displaying it at the Wetland Event. My hope is to produce sketch outline that children can colour-in possibly leading to the creation a collaborative book. You can see the ‘yet to be perfected’ slideshow here – Limnoriea – a mythology for Point Grey.
So whether your world-view is from peer reviewed science or the guidance channeled through clairvoyants, or somewhere in between, there is a message for us, for you and me. If we develop our capacity to understand our relationship to plants, especially trees, we may find we can make this world a more beautiful place to be.
- Imagine Earth in 2050 rewilded with increasing biodiversity and a just and sustainable habitat for all. It is possible if we listen to the trees.
If you wish to read the words that accompany the slide show (many are hard to read especially on mobiles) then here is the story line so far for Limnoriea – A mythology for Point Grey
I am the Nymph who nurtures all things in the salt marshes and salt-water estuaries.
Nymphs are known for their love of nature and nurturing all in need. I am in essence true love and create harmony because love energy radiates from my heart.
I have many sisters. My closest sisters are all the other Nereids. We live in both salt and fresh water. The Naiads preside over springs, rivers, and lakes.
The nymphs of the mountains are Oreads and the Dryads are the nymphs of the trees. Hamadryad is bound to the tree and her life is dependent on the tree’s life.
Most of us can change our form from human to the source of Nature we are in service to.
Dryads can change from the form of a tree to a human at will.
For me it is anything in the still salty water. But our powers to shift between these forms have been weakened.
We started to lose our powers and were forced into a deep sleep in the land now called Western Australia about two hundred years ago. Many crimes were committed against the human guardians who had lived in harmony with us for the longest known time.
Humans stopped respecting us and thought they were the all mighty ones. They chopped and burnt down so many trees that the Dryads started to die, especially Hamadryads. Nereids have been able to keep some of our powers but things are changing very quickly now.
I have been granted extra energy from the grid of light, an energy surrounding our universe that is connected to the centre of your mother, the Earth. I have entered a portal and will only have these extra powers for a short time, so please sit down with me and listen closely.
I heard the call from the twin tree, Swamp Paperbark, Melaleuca rhaphiophylla. The trees need your help.
In 1994 humans cut a channel to the ocean opposite a place they called Point Grey. They said it was a solution to toxic algae growth.
The clearing of land and the use fertilisers caused a lot of nitrogen build up that created toxic algae.
They didn’t think about reducing run off and stopping the cause.
They didn’t look to Nature for an answer. They also wanted to create luxury canals to live on and marinas for boats.
They didn’t ask the Trees who have lived here a long time.
The salt level and tides from the ocean made many trees die. Humans measured their decline in the Harvey River in 1994.
Only the Saltwater Paperbark can have her trunk surrounded by salty water. They have special roots coming from the trunk.
This is Saltwater Paperbark, Malaleuca cuticularis. Her leaves are smaller and she doesn’t grow as big.
They like to live close together in groves.
You can see the lake is white because there is only salt, no water.
Their bark helps protect from bush fires, but goes black, whilst unburnt parts are white. Malaleuca means black and white.
They provide food and places to live for birds, reptiles and insects. They take in carbon doixide and release oxygen.
My special powers allow me to live in the paperbark by day, returning to the salt water by night. I am here to talk to humans.
I invite you to come and spend time with us, to touch our bark, smell our aroma, see our beauty and hear us -listen deeply.
Come and sit with me, be quiet, even hug me. Breathe in, breathe out, can you feel something in your heart?
Please stand with the trees; we need your love. Nature needs you to be embedded in love with us.
What do you think the trees want? What do you think the water wants?
When you listen with your heart you will hear the answers.
Maybe you will hear: No more chopping and pushing over trees.
We need trees to cover at least 50% of Planet Earth’s land for harmony and the energy of the Nymphs to be returned.
We need the water to be clean.
The trees are grateful for you saying yes to our survival
They want you to say no to ‘capital growth’ like housing developments and Marinas at Point Grey.
Recent humans have called this place Point Grey.
It is on the eastern side roughly in the middle of the estuary.
Gratitude to Treesister friends and music provided by Karlo WondeRa
After reading many scientific and ‘expert’ reports of the risks to wetlands by the increasing population, ‘lifestyle’ housing and resultant demands on the water and risk of fire I wrote the article posted in ‘news’.
I have gone deeply into my heart and conclude this project with heart-focused intentions. It is best to read through the instructions, then the ‘Intention’, and then come back and follow or use your own intention practice. Thank you.
Breathing in, breathing out. I feel the energy of Gaia enter through my feet and I draw it up to my heart.
I focus on the point between my eyes and draw energy from above, again to my heart where I feel love oozing out around me. I connect with love vibrations surrounding me.
(If you are following with me take as long as needed here to really fill your heart).
I see myself connected energetically with compassionate people around the globe. We send out intentions on the wings of love into a thought wave above our heads. I connect with all powers who my logical mind want to dismiss (and invite you to connect with your guides, angels, elementals and beneficial beings or simply love vibrations).
I enter the swirling cosmos, spiralling galaxy and smile. Love is radiating out of my heart. The Intention is on its way, seeding hearts. And then one big breath in and as I breathe out I am grateful it is so.
The heart powered intention:
The awareness of love of nature is rising.
There is a shift of global consciousness away from clearing more and more land.
Trees are seen as essential to life, honoured and cared for. Where trees are grown to provide timber it is done amidst other crops or animal foraging to allow biodiversity and soil replenishment.
Rivers are free to provide life for all and not be dammed for hydro-power or used for inappropriate mono-culture thirsty crops.
Common sense prevails and the land surrounding wetlands is regenerated.
Wetland adjacent farmlands allow only clean run-off from rain, free of animal manure, fertilisers and chemicals.
All development that has any degree of risk to wetlands is not approved, and were approvals have been given they are revoked.
Wise use of land considers tourism and fishing as long as the risk of increased human interaction does not lead to increased risk.
People are planting, or donating to tree planting programs like Treesisters.
The last three months (from September 2019) in Australia have changed everything in the way many people in Australia view fire risk and climate change. Trending reduced rainfall and higher temperatures, which have multiple negative effects on wetland ecosystems including risk of fire have raised the probability and potential impact of close vicinity wetland housing developments to an unacceptable level of risk.
In December 2019, 27 leading health and medical organisations in Australia signed a joint statement calling on the Federal and NSW governments to respond to the public health emergency associated with persistent air pollution from bushfire smoke in NSW. The statement made it clear: there is no safe level of air pollution. They requested a multi-portfolio response and the development of a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being. The Statement outlines the need for a nationally ‘coordinated approach to tackling the worsening health impacts of climate change’. There is already an increased demand for health services from extreme weather events, such as bushfires and heatwaves. Health authorities are stating that it is clear that tackling climate change is crucial to minimize health effects of bushfire smoke.
Leading medical journal, The Lancet, has published articles warning of the potentially lethal, suspended fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which affects our respiratory, cardiovascular, and immune systems when inhaled, resulting in respiratory or cardiac collapse in some people. Cities as well as urban areas in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra have experienced PM2.5 over periods longer than one or two days which presents health risks of serious concern – way above levels set by the World Heath Organisation. “Without immediate and efficient climate action, catastrophic bushfires will become a common disaster and might destroy the future of Australia and possibly of humanity.” Published Lancet article January 2020
Reporting in, ‘Special Climate Statement 71—severe fire weather conditions in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales in September 2019, the Bureau of Meteorology explained and warned of the potential looming disaster. “Australia’s climate was impacted by a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) in both 2018 and 2019, exerting a drying influence over many parts of the country… While the IOD is a natural mode of variability, its behaviour is changing in response to climate change. Research suggests that the frequency of positive IOD events, and particularly the occurrence of consecutive events will increase as global temperatures rise.”
The report continues with explanations of how the other contributing factors like higher than normal temperature, lower humidity and strong winds create extremely high fire risk. They discuss in detail the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI). This special report, and associated request by the fire department to meet with political leaders, indicates a prior knowledge that catastrophic fire conditions existed. The devastation is clear to see. Strong political leadership is not.
On the 20th January, 2020, a fire, reported to have been deliberately lit near Harvey, created thick columns of smoke. The devastating Yarloop and Waroona fires of 2016 are a reminder of the velocity of fires in this region. The fire at Preston Beach in 2016, which was triggered by a lightning strike tore through almost 70,000 hectares of land, destroyed 180 homes and buildings and resulted in loss of many animals and the lives of two men.
Bushfires in wetlands act differently to dry land bush fires. It is to do with what lies underneath connecting lakes and pre-existing lakes – the peat. It can continue to burn for months. Peat fires continue to burn underground until the ground water levels rise. They need to be replenished by rain creating run off into the lakes and estuaries. Years of lower than average rainfall is leaving areas of wetlands dry in summer time. Peat has a high carbon content, is porous and ignites easily when dry. Lightening, extremely high temperatures and of course bush fires can easily ignite peat.
Photo shows Ramsar-protected Macquarie Marshes wetland on fire with 90pc of crucial reed bed razed (breeding ground to over 20,000 birds). Due to the lack of water from diversion from the Murray-Darling system the river bed was dry and it is possible the ecosystem will not recover.
As the Peel region’s population grows and sprawls over and around wetlands the risk of human initiated ignition increases. Occupational and recreational activities lead to unintentional, and sadly intentional fires. The increasing population, resulting in houses being built closer to wetlands, increases risk of health problems related to fire and smoke. In many cases the new communities draw more water from underground supplies. The Water Authority released new guidelines for underground water use in 2015 hoping to minimise risk to the estuary ecosystem.
The reduced gigalitres level for licenses is essential, and the requirements to find alternative water supplies such as storm water and grey-water has helped slow the withdrawal of the water but we may need to do a lot more to help bushland surrounding wetlands to maintain health and not become fuel for fires.
Climate change, leading to an increase in fire risk has raised the probability and potential impact too high to allow for the continued growth of new subdivisions and retail developments. This is especially so for those near wetlands. It has already been noted by the health department that increased health problems from smoke exposure are occurring in areas where houses are situated close to wetlands. A HealthyWA Fact Sheet explains the risk of exposure to peat-fire smoke is worse than bushfires so even if life and property is not destroyed by the flames the smoke has lethal potential. The smoke is different due to the components and the way it burns. The partially decomposed vegetation contains carbon, sulphur and nitrogen, which if burnt release odorous and irritating gases. Incomplete combustion due to a smouldering effect can also release more fine particulate matter, mentioned above.
The Peel-Yalgorup wetlands are at great risk of degradation from fire as the climate becomes hotter and rainfall decreases. This has been recorded as a trend since the 1970’s. According to health authorities we are now experiencing a climate health emergency and action needs to be taken to minimise all contributing factors. Whilst Statements calling for action continue to be ignored by State and Federal Governments we look to local councils to strengthen programs that encourage farmers to learn about and use regenerative practices such as the program the Peel Harvey Catchment Council is offering. Businesses and service facilities are looking a their carbon emissions but a greater emphasis will need to be on divesting and boycotting corporations and their investors that pursue development that destroys habitat and ignores the voice of the people.
Emergencies lead us to consider actions such as a moratorium on approving progression of earth works that degrade vegetation or waterways, new housing sub-divisions especially near wetlands and other measures appropriate under emergency situations like now. The risk of losing our wetlands is too high, the loss too great.
Brains trust – How does the proposed Point Grey development fit the current aims of preservation of water and ecosystems for wetlands?
Screen Shot from Google Maps above showing unnamed roads in an area that is the proposed 275 Hectare Master-planned residential community and marina site. These are not visible from the gate or Google Earth. Artists impression of foreshore of the site as depicted on the web site indicates massive earth works to obtain depth required.
Google Earth image of the Point showing largely cleared land with fringe of natural vegetation butting the estuary. Low tide results in exposed mud many metres from the shore. How could this artists impression be achieved?
Entry to the western tip of the point (all of image to right) is not possible except by water craft.
May common sense prevail and the land use for this area be deemed for creating a more sustainable and beautiful world. Possibilities include, but not limited to a demonstration site for regenerative agriculture using methods to conserve rainfall, increase micro-climate moisture, prevent high nutrient run-off and erosion or conservation projects including flora and fauna.
To examine this potential acceleration of extinction please go to the Natures Heart Intention Wonderful Wetlands project. The aims are to: reflect on human behavior in relation to Nature; provide basic information on the Peel-Harvey Estuary, a Ramsar listed wetland; identify organisations and projects taking action to regenerate waterways locally; describe some with global importance that effect climate change via hydrology and carbon sequestration to name two processes; and invite you to set an intention that wetlands be protected and regenerated.