Un arbre qui tombe fait plus de bruit qu’une forêt qui pousse (Extrait)

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Un arbre qui tombe fait plus de bruit qu’une forêt qui pousse

Depuis toujours ils savaient qu’ils iraient vivre à la campagne pour mieux profiter du temps qui passe moins vite. Ils ont emménagé à deux heures de Paris sur la terre de leur enfance. La suite est imprévue puisque Piero décède d’un accident cardiaque au printemps 2020, laissant derrière lui sa compagne Amélie et leurs trois enfants Manon, Antoine et Charlie. Ce foyer, devenu monoparental, parvient progressivement à créer un cadre où chacun retrouve sa place, dans la douceur et l’amour, en intégrant l’empreinte de Piero restée intacte. Frappée par le deuil, cette famille se définit aujourd’hui comme une « tribu » composant avec des équilibres fragiles, où chacun aide l’autre à se reconstruire en préservant sa juste place.

J’ai rencontré Amélie grâce à un ami très proche, alors que je démarrais un travail sur les formes plurielles de monoparentalités. Elle m’a alors dit : «Je ne suis pas un bon exemple de famille monoparentale, chez moi c’est le bazar.» C’est bien cela que je voulais restituer : la réalité quotidienne que cette famille vivait et sa reconstruction. J’ai ainsi été régulièrement et librement accueilli pendant dix-huit mois.

Sa situation m’a profondément touché et m’a interrogé sur la reconstruction de la cellule familiale après un deuil. À la fois collectives et individuelles, les reconstructions se sont faites au fil des saisons. Pour cela, Amélie a décidé d’accompagner ses enfants dans un esprit d’ouverture, une atmosphère sereine où chacun peut regarder la réalité en face sans risquer de s’effondrer.

Piero, fort, énergique et passionné laisse soudainement son atelier intouché. Un lieu foisonnant de créations, une grange où le bois et les outils sont omniprésents et où chacun peut encore ressentir sa présence. Les heures passées à concevoir, façonner de nouveaux meubles, ont imprégné les lieux d’une odeur de sciure, d’huile et de terre qui lui donne toujours vie. Ce désordre apparent fait écho au temps qu’il faut pour que chacun puisse « remettre les choses en place », à l’abri du regard des autres.

Trampolines, cross, caravane, salon, sont autant d’espaces de jeux que se réapproprient progressivement les enfants. Chacun y recrée des rituels passés permettant notamment de faire revivre le père. Il est temps d’oublier sa colère et de se découvrir plus fort et plus grand qu’on ne pensait.

Dix-huit mois faits de douleurs, de doutes mais aussi de rires se sont écoulés. Ils ont permis au fil des saisons et des événements d’avancer dans le processus de reconstruction, d’aller de l’avant, à l’image d’une forêt qui cicatrise et retrouve un nouvel équilibre.


They had always known they would move to the countryside to better enjoy the time that went by more slowly there. They moved two hours from Paris to the land of their childhood. What happens next is unexpected since Piero dies of a heart attack in the spring of 2020, leaving behind his partner Amélie and their three children Manon, Antoine and Charlie. This household, now single-parent, gradually manages to create a setting where everyone finds their place, in gentleness and love, while integrating Piero’s imprint, which has remained intact. Grief-stricken, this family now defines themselves as a “tribe”, dealing with a fragile balance, where each one helps the other to rebuild while keeping their rightful place.

I met Amélie through a very close friend of mine as I was starting a project on the plural forms of single parenthood. She then told me: “I’m not a good example of a single-parent family, my home is a mess”. This is exactly what I wished to render: the day-to-day reality that this family was experiencing, and their reconstruction. I was thus regularly and unrestrictedly welcomed for 18 months.

Her situation affected me deeply and made me ponder the reconstruction of the family unit after a bereavement. Both collective and individual, the reconstruction processes took place throughout the seasons. For this, Amélie had decided to accompany her children in a spirit of openness, a peaceful atmosphere where each one of them could look reality in the face without risking breaking down.

Strong, energetic and passionate Piero suddenly leaves his workshop untouched. A place teeming with creations, a barn where wood and tools are ubiquitous and where everyone can still feel his presence. The hours spent on designing, shaping new furniture, have permeated the place with a scent of sawdust, oil and earth that still gives life to it. This apparent disorder echoes the time needed for everyone to “put things back into place”, away from the eyes of the others.

Trampolines, cross, caravan, living room, are all play areas that the children reclaim bit by bit. Each of them recreates past rituals, allowing notably to revive their father. Time has come for them to forget about their anger and to realize they are stronger and bigger than they thought.

18 months made of pains, doubts but also of laughs have passed. They have permitted, throughout the seasons and events, to progress in the reconstruction process, to move forward, just like a forest that heals and finds a new balance.

Plant ecosystems are extraordinary, and their capacity to continue is a source of inspiration for us: not only do they pass on the elements necessary for the life and development of younger generations, but they also resist various disturbances thanks to types of cooperation. In short, they possess an amazing resilience which allows them to get back into balance.

Higher, further

Among the plant world, trees are particularly fascinating. We all know more or less precisely what a tree is: a long-lived plant, a large land plant with a trunk that rises vertically without relying on others to stand upright. But why grow taller than its conspecifics?

Growing until reaching the others, or even surpassing them, in order to get to the vital light. Indeed, growing taller allows the tree to provide its green leaves with the light needed for photosynthesis, which produces the organic matter on which the entire tree lives and develops. It can then disperse seeds and spores, giving its offspring the opportunity to establish themselves further away. Thus, trees have strategies underpinned by the community effect.

In the very long history of plants, evolutionary strategies have occurred repeatedly and independently. In other words, although the first trees appeared just under 400 million years ago, not all trees are descended from these species, and the evolution processes can be surprising, as in the case of the apple tree, which is actually more closely related to a strawberry tree than to a chestnut or a plane tree.

The power of adaptability

Although they are massive, trees are living beings that we sometimes perceive less as individuals than as components of a larger group: the forest. In a way, and contrary to the well-known metaphor, one cannot see the tree for the forest and remains blind to the immense diversity of the 73,000 or so tree species in the world.

This multiplicity of species and ages guarantees the resistance and resilience of the ecosystem in question. Thus, if a minor external disturbance occurs, its plasticity will allow the ecosystem to absorb it without difficulty, rather like a reed that will bend in the wind. However, if the turbulence is too great, a period of great change, and adaptation will begin, leading to a new equilibrium. These processes are not always perceptible on a human scale because they sometimes take several decades, or even centuries in some cases, to find their resolution and reach a new state of stability.

Invisible cooperation and visible solidarity

What we see of a forest on the surface is only a small part of the system. The underground is a place where many things happen. A true communication network, it is based on the roots of trees and on the mycelial filaments of microscopic fungi. This symbiotic relationship (from “sun” ‘with’ and “bios” ‘life’) favours the exchange of nutrients that are essential to the life of both. In fact, these are forms of cooperation that have been selected in the course of evolution and that ultimately create a huge functional network involving multiple plant, fungal and animal species.

There are also surprising vertical links. For example, the root system of trees, especially hardwoods, is incredibly symmetrical with the crown; the individual thus linking the underground world with the aerial world. The tree needs light from the sky as much as it needs water from the ground through its root system; its growth depends on this symmetry and balance. In ancient pagan cultures, it was not uncommon for trees to be seen as connecting points between all these dimensions. Wasn’t Yggdrasil, the tree of Norse mythology, the passageway linking the nine worlds? As for the shamans, they used to sit in a tree to meditate, and the oak was the tree of Zeus. Likewise, yew trees in cemeteries symbolise this link with the world of the dead.

Finally, trees exchange information of various kinds and communicate with each other, particularly through their roots. Among these interactions, there are mechanisms that recall solidarity. These mechanisms are numerous in the forest ecosystem, operating at several levels both directly and indirectly. They are sometimes incredible, since the disappearance of the oldest trees often benefits the youngest.

In this way, young, slender, frail trees can grow taller, protected by older trees, before expanding and becoming less vulnerable. Similarly, older trees may form a bulwark that allows the wind to blow more gently without posing a threat to younger trees. The reverse is also true, as the young trees’ crowns capture light thus preventing the sun’s rays from burning the bark of the older trees and causing damaging, even fatal, sun scald. As for the mosses that cover the trees, they gain access to light while protecting the trunks in return.

These mechanisms can also be more subtle and less visible than that, by playing on the chemical balance of the individuals. Beyond these reciprocal relationships that enable growth, a community of trees often supports itself in the face of adversity and thus lasts.

Perpetual renewal

Trees follow a cycle of self-regeneration, passing from a period of activity to a period of rest. For example, deciduous trees: when photosynthesis becomes insufficient in autumn, the tree relocates its resources, all the recoverable and recyclable compounds, towards the trunk and branches. Without photosynthesis and therefore without sap flow, the leaves dry out and fall, at the same time allowing the tree to easily get rid of many metabolic waste products rich in nitrogen.

Once on the ground, the leaves create a cover that will protect the roots from the winter cold and provide “board and lodging” for saproxylic communities. Feeding on decomposing wood and thus contributing to the formation of humus, these organisms will structure the soil, increasing its permeability, water capture and retention, and respiration, as well as root exploration. The regeneration of the tree ecosystem takes place in an unchanging cycle represented by the succession of seasons, in which everything participates and which benefits everyone at a given moment, in one form or another. We renew ourselves but we do not change on a human scale.

Cyril Faure est photographe, il vit à Paris et travaille en France. Ses projets visent à questionner les changements sociologiques de notre société. Il a notamment illustré plusieurs transformations profondes telles que les évolutions des codes de la virilité (Virilité, 2018), les familles monoparentales (Monoparentale, 2019) et la reconstruction familiale (Un arbre qui tombe fait plus de bruit qu’une forêt qui pousse, 2020-23).

Germinal Rouhan est botaniste. Maître de conférences du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, il est chercheur à l’Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), et responsable scientifique de l’Herbier national de Paris. Ses recherches s’inscrivent dans des perspectives d’exploration, de description et d’analyse de la biodiversité ; elles se situent dans le domaine de la systématique et de l’évolution des plantes vasculaires, en particulier des fougères et lycophytes.

Jean-Charles Miquel est écologue, responsable recherche et développement au sein de Soins Modernes des Arbres. Il a été ingénieur de recherche à l’INRAE et au Centre d’étude de la forêt de Montréal. Ses travaux visent à réaliser des modèles de simulation complexes pour répondre aux besoins de professionnels, grâce à ses expériences en laboratoires et sur le terrain (valorisation des déchets, pollution et perturbation des sols, production et gestion forestière).

Cyril Faure is a photographer, he lives in Paris and works in France. His projects aim at examining the sociological changes of our society. He has notably illustrated several profound transformations such as the evolution of the codes of virility (Virility, 2018), single-parent families (Single parenthood, 2019) and family reconstruction (Afallingtreemakesmorenoisethana growingforest, 2020-23).

Germinal Rouhan is a botanist. A senior lecturer at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, he is a researcher at the Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), and the scientific manager of the Herbier national de Paris. His research works come within the scope of the exploration, description and analysis of biodiversity; they pertain to the field of the systematics and the evolution of vascular plants, in particular of ferns and lycophytes.

Jean-Charles Miquel is an ecologist, responsible for research and development at Soins Modernes des Arbres. He used to be a research engineer at INRAE and at the Centre d’étude de la forêt de Montréal. His works aim at developing complex simulation models to meet the needs of professionals, thanks to his laboratory experiments and his field experience (waste recovery, pollution and soil disturbance, forest production and management).


Direction artistique

Conception graphique

Jérôme Granjon, Studio Pupik

Traduction des textes en anglais Pascaline Faure et Nastasia Michaels

Impression et photogravure

EBS (Editoriale Bortolazzi Stei)

Dépôt légal : juin 2023

N° ISBN : 978-2-491924-31-7

Achevé d’imprimer sur les presses d’EBS (Editoriale Bortolazzi Stei) à Vérone — Italie

Tous droits réservés. La reproduction totale ou partielle de cette publication sous toutes formes et par tous moyens électroniques ou mécaniques, y compris photocopie, enregistrement ou tout autre système d’archivage, et sa transmission ou sa reproduction sous forme de fichiers informatiques, sont interdites sans l’autorisation écrite de l’éditeur et des auteurs.

Première édition © Libel

Avec le soutien de

Libel, Lyon


Cyril Faure


Germinal Rouhan

Jean-Charles Miquel

ISBN 978-2-491924-31-7

Dépôt legal

Juin 2023

Prix de vente public 30 €

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