Natural Wonders: Breathing Forest

Forests are the lungs of the Earth. The little puffs of breath from trillions of trees and plants provide the planet with oxygen. We return the favor with our carbon dioxide. Normally, we cannot see this process. However, a strange sight in a forest in Sacré-Coeur, Quebec had onlookers questioning this.

a mossy forest floor becomes saturated after a storm. Photo: SP-Photo/Shutterstock


A man named Daniel Holland captured an incredible phenomenon while strolling through a dense, mossy forest one afternoon. He saw the forest floor heaving up and down, as if the Earth was gasping for breath. The wind whips violently among the trees, making the trees bend and look like they are about to snap. It creates an overall eerie scene out of the Twilight Zone.

Some believed it to be something supernatural or from a large animal trapped beneath the forest’s mossy floor. On the contrary, something as simple as wind is the culprit for this odd phenomenon.

Uprooted tree in the forest. Photo: TTphoto/Shutterstock


According to meteorologists, the area suffered an intense thunderstorm that week. This saturated the soil and caused the trees’ roots to loosen. As gale-force winds ripped through the forest, the trees almost gave way and toppled.

The ‘breathing’ illusion comes from the movement of the roots beneath the trees. As the trees sway, the torque almost uproots the tree. This phenomenon is most common in trees with root systems shaped like discs.

Despite its plausible explanation, the scene reminds us that nature is, in fact, alive.

Another example of this rare phenomenon:

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer at ExplorersWeb.

Kristine has been writing about Science, Mysteries and History for 4+ years. Prior to that, Kristine studied at the University of Leicester in the UK.

Based in Port-of-Spain, Kristine is also a literature teacher, avid reader, hiker, occasional photographer, an animal lover and shameless ramen addict.