The ecosystem is a beautifully complex collection of life forms working in harmony. The intricacies of these connections are explored in The Magical Forest, a riveting episode from the BBC's nature series Secrets of our Living Planet.
The filmmakers embed themselves in one of the most glorious natural environments in the world: the sprawling seasonal forests of North America. Here, plant and animal life share a stunning give-and-take relationship. The most profound examples of this can be found during the autumn as the cold moves in, insect life burrows deep into the ground, and the trees begin to shed their leaves.
Nature depends on a series of surprising relationships in order to thrive during even the harshest of conditions. The film provides a remarkable glimpse into these relationships by showing how they set the stage for the oncoming brutality of winter temperatures, and lay the groundwork for a rebirth in the spring and summer.
The process begins with a population of flying squirrels and the truffles they gnaw upon as winter approaches. Upon being eaten, these truffles release nutrient-rich spores into the soil and allow thousand-year-old trees to grow as the seasons change. The film then turns to the forest's flowing waters, and the tens of millions of salmon who spawn there. These salmon serve as the main food supply for bears and cubs, and provide them with reserves of sustenance during their period of hibernation. As the carcasses of these salmon decompose, they also offer a feast of nutrients for starving soil.
The symbiosis continues as the winter season clutches its icy grip upon the region. This is the period of time when hundreds of Canadian lynx emerge in search of well-camouflaged snowshoe rabbits. As the season winds down, the fates of both predator and prey are largely dependent upon the actions of tiny bug worms who exist on burgeoning tree leaves.
The images that occupy The Magical Forest are awe-inspiring not only for their dazzling beauty, but for the unexpected connections they capture. Nature lovers in particular will relish this rare and informative look inside the inner workings of a living forest.
Directed by: Gavin Maxwell