What Is A Forest?

What is a forest? Is it the trees or the space that exists between them?

It sounds like a very simple question, however there is a big difference between the answers from NASA or from Ellie Davies, an excellent and fantastic British photographer, whose thrilling “ghostly-forest-photography” was recently presented on welcometotwinpeaks.com.

NASA scientists  raised that question when they discovered difference in satellite-derived maps of global forest cover. The reason was varied definitions of what constitutes a forest.  There is some urgency in the need for a definition because deforestation  is responsible for one-sixth of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The authors (of an scientific article) call for either a single, clear definition of forest that can be used globally or, preferably, a shift away from “forest/non-forest” maps to new maps of measureable ecological characteristics like tree cover, canopy height and biomass” (http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasausgs-mission-helps-answer-what-is-a-forest)

Scientists emphasize the forest’s importance as “carbon stock”.

Nevertheless the eyes of satellites in space will always see only a surface. The forests of a planet are more than carbon stock. They are living organisms, a very complex system of individual organisms interacting.

Furthermore there is a spiritual dimension here proven by the endless stories of humankind and its ambiguous relationship with the forest. For many peoples the forests were the seats of the Gods.

But is there something between the trees? We know about biochemical substances or gases emitted by plants.

Mythology however is telling us about the intangible forces in the forest. In some cases it might be some form of energy field but also even more supernatural forces which can’t be measured but encompassed by human imagination.

“A forest is what exists between its trees, between its dense undergrowth and its clearings, between all its life cycles and their different time-scales… A forest is a meeting place between those who enter it and something unnameable and attendant… Something intangible and within touching distance. Neither silent nor audible.”
(John Berger quote from welcometotwinpeaks.com, Between the Trees, 2014 Statement from John Berger in ‘Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance’, p.135-140 Verso, 2007.)

This is also what the Forest Dark is about; “Something intangible” is there. It’s impossible to understand the forest in all its dimensions but sometimes we feel it.


The forest is indeed a “meeting place”. Sometimes we will meet ourselves there, on other occasions something strange, which was always there.






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