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 is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago. Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb. Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration. Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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