The life and groundbreaking work of a UBC forestry professor is headed for the silver screen.
Arrival star Amy Adams is set to portray forest ecology professor Suzanne Simard in an upcoming film co-produced by Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.
“There were like six major production film companies and lots of interest and it became like a bidding thing. I basically interviewed these incredible actresses and production teams, and I’m like, ‘What am I doing here, it was amazing,'” Simard told Global News.
“There was a ton of interest and I think it’s because this is a story of the times, losing our old-growth forest, and then climate change. We are at a crisis point and we are making these bone-headed decisions for reasons of the past.”
The film is set to adapt Simard’s recent memoir Finding the Mother Tree, which documents her own upbringing in a forestry family and her research on how ancient trees help forests communicate through a fungal and biochemical underground “internet.”
“I found that trees are actually connected below ground and they redistribute resources among themselves, like a whole connected community,” Simard said.
“The big old trees, which by the way are what we go after when we’re harvesting first, they’re the ones that are the most highly connected to the other trees. And they redistribute carbon and nitrogen and water among the other trees to raise the productivity of the whole ecosystem. How moist it is, how nutritious it is, how much photosynthesis can go on.”
Simard said she hopes the movie raises people’s awareness of how interconnected forests are, and how necessary old-growth trees are for biodiversity.
She believes current clear-cut logging practices and old-growth harvesting are both unsustainable and incompatible with that interconnectivity, something else she’s hoping to communicate to audiences.
“We need to leave them aside for their ecological value. But there’s other forests we can continue to harvest in, albeit at a lower rate than we have right now and more carefully than what we’re doing right now,” Simard said
“I hope it can help us move past this polarization. It doesn’t have to be like this. We can get so much more value out of the forests.”