Although there seems to be hardly any old-growth forest left in Europe, the forest portrayed below at least felt ancient to me. I can hardly begin to describe how valuable that has become. Most of the forests that I visit in my home country, the Netherlands, are plantation or production forests in which trees of mostly the same species are more or less lined up in rows to be cut down and exploited after some decades. In fact, a mere ten percent of the Netherlands is covered with forest, of which only a tiny fraction is old growth. This makes my country the worst off in the European Union (ironically, only beating the rocky island of Malta, where forests have no chance to begin with). Although plantation forests are certainly better than no forests at all, it makes me sad that most of the forests we can enjoy today are the ones that are not given the chance to develop into a real forest: a place full of old, big, gnarly trees and a rich understory. A place that oozes the kind of natural purity that has become so rare (at least where I live) that, at some point, it may just fade from our collective memory.
So when I visited the forest below in the Val di Funes in the Dolomites, I was pleasantly struck by its pristine beauty, which could only have evolved from centuries of unhampered growth and development. Part of this may have been an illusion because the area is popular with tourists, meaning that it is probably not as untouched as I would like. I visited the place in the early evening, however, when there were only a few other tourists left. So most of the time I was completely alone surrounded by giant trees. Combined with the impressive backdrop of the Geisler/Odle peaks, the beautiful light, and the atmospheric clouds, it was an experience that I will not quickly forget.
Illusion or not, this forest in the Val di Funes (Villnößtal, Dolomites, Italian Alps) felt more pristine than I had experienced in a long time. All shots have been taken with the Fuji X-T5 and Fujinon XF18-55mm lens.