If you go down to the woods today – you’d better bring a camera.
To mark International Day of Forests (March 21), we’ve rounded up the most exquisite woodland the world has to offer.
Forget the Amazon – these fantastical forests will have you barking up all the right trees. Put them on your ‘to see’ list, once we can all start exploring again.
Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
Remote, and barely accessible until the 1980s, this sprawling Chinese woodland has UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its extraordinary plant diversity, and its population of giant pandas. The vast array of species means that come autumn the landscape turns (almost) every colour of the rainbow.
Redwood National Park, USA
In America, size matters, and these giant Californian redwoods are quite literally as big as they come. Best in class is Hyperion, a 115 metre monolith that’s officially the world’s tallest living tree. Above the canopy it stands on the shoulders of giants, but from the forest floor it’s just another trunk.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Japan
Soaring stalks of bamboo blend into a shimmering wall of green in this bamboo grove just outside Kyoto, Japan. The forest is famous for its visuals, but a moment of stillness reveals a steady, undulating rustling, not unlike waves lapping on a beach.
Daintree Rainforest, Australia
An ancient rainforest in Northern Australia, Daintree combines our two favourite ecosystems, as the dense tropical foliage leads directly into miles of pristine beach. Keep an eye out for the cassowary, a flightless bird so elusive locals apparently buy lottery tickets if they see one.
Dragon’s Blood Island, Yemen
The barren desert island of Socotra is just about the last place you’d expect to find a forest, but the endemic dragon’s blood trees rise from the rock like an array of alien parasols. The bizarre-looking species is named for its deep crimson resin, which is used for everything from pottery glue to toothpaste.
Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
The world contains several cloud forests – mountainous jungles veiled in layers of mist – but none so justly famous as those in Monteverde, Costa Rica. A network of rope bridges criss-crosses the canopy, lending tourists a bird’s eye view of the region’s stunning biodiversity, from birds and big cats to Costa Rica’s famous red-eyed tree frog.
Black Forest, Germany
Awash with ruined castles and Grimms’ fairy tales, the Black Forest in South Germany is renowned for its dense canopy, plunging landscape, and delightfully Gothic atmosphere. If you see a gingerbread house – do not enter.