The power of the forest is dying as natural silence goes extinct

It was in the forest that I found the peace that passeth understanding.”  Jane Goodall

Silence. Does the thought of if scare you or give you a sense of inner peace? Can you recall the last time you experienced silence? Have you ever?

The healing power of nature impacts, the mind, body and spirit. Research studies demonstrate this, and many of us know this intuitively. One of the primary attributes of nature that provides health benefits is the freedom from human created noise. Half the world’s population now lives in busy, loud urban settings, many not knowing the peace and healing that natural silence offers.

Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist, and  founder of One Square Inch of Silence in Hoh Rain Forest, believes that natural silence is going extinct. In an interview on PBS On Being, he indicated that he was aware of only 12 remaining places that offered natural silence of at least 15 minutes. I visited the Hoh Rain Forest several years ago and it is by far one of the most enchanting and peaceful places I have ever been. Hempton has worked tirelessly to help preserve quiet there.


Standing Indian Mountain (North Carolina)

It seems as though the delicate balancing act between economic growth and preserving natural places for escape has been a struggle for centuries. This has become increasingly important now as our world population continues to expand, demanding more resources, with further urbanization, which creates relentless cascades of noise. The United States has had an on again. off again approach to protecting nature. Over the past eight years many natural areas have been protected. Unfortunately, we are now entering a time when those governing  the country apparently are cynical and uncaring towards the incredible importance of nature to our health, instead advancing legislation to make national parks, forests and wilderness areas more accessible to developers by handing the land over to states. We need more natural areas for recreation, not fewer as the United States and world populations continue to increase. Once these places are developed we are not getting them back. 

The absence of noise is not a luxury. Studies have found that increases in noise are associated with increased crime, stress levels,  and numerous other associated health problems. As a society it seems as though we have become obsessed with creating noise, and needing to have noise to feel safe. How many people do you know that have to always have a television on, have ear buds to listen to music, or be talking?

I am interested in your feedback. Do you value silence? Are you comfortable with it? Where do you go to experience it? How do you benefit from the experience? 

2 thoughts on “The power of the forest is dying as natural silence goes extinct

  1. Thanks for posting this! I really appreciate quiet places. My husband and I have a piece of land where we’re working to improve the wildlife habitat. When I go out there to work, I’ve been cutting trees down with a hand saw instead of a chainsaw so that I can avoid the noise and stink (and use my muscles), and I love the silence. It’s very quiet there, except for the sound of car or machine (lawnmower, chainsaw) in the distance. Also, I used to listen to an ipod when I went running or skiing, but I’ve stopped doing that so that I don’t have all that noise and distraction and can just enjoy being outside instead. Because it’s so quiet where we live, I can definitely tell that noisy places make me feel tense!

  2. For 15 months, I was fortunate to live immersed in a naturally-silent area of Ecuador’s cloud forest. It was so peaceful and serene, though when a good friend visited for a month, after a few rainy days she exclaimed, ‘Oh Lisa! What are we going to do?”

    I realized then how lucky I am to tap into the magnificent powers of Nature, especially when she is at her best, at her most beautiful. Total immersion in nature is a ‘must’ for me; after three or four days in a city, I start feeling choked – not only by pollution but also from so many people..

    There’s a balance, and I am grateful to be at peace when totally and blissfully alone in Nature!

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