The importance of forests to our planet is more apparent now than ever before. It is trees that filter our carbon emissions out of the atmosphere. Over the past four years photographer Jeroen Toirkens (b. 1971) and journalist and programme maker Jelle Brandt Corstius (1978) visited forests in the boreal zone for their Borealis project. This zone is a circle of mainly coniferous forest extending across the northern regions of Europe, Asia and America. Thirty per cent of all trees are in this zone, and they are vital for maintaining the earth’s ecological balance, converting huge quantities of CO2 into oxygen. Yet less than 12% of the forests are protected, and they face threats from all quarters: commercial logging, the vulnerability of newly planted trees and raging forest fires, as seen last summer in Siberia.
For Borealis Jeroen Toirkens and Jelle Brandt Corstius sought out the stories of the forests and the people who live there. Now that the impact of climate change can be seen and felt increasingly clearly, it is important that these stories are heard. Toirkens’ images bear witness to the ancient mythical appeal of forests, but they also show how the inhabitants of the boreal zone manage and protect their habitat. The exhibition at The Hague Museum of Photography will feature all eight parts of the project, including the final episode in Alaska, the personal highlight for Toirkens and Brandt Corstius, on display for the first time.
Borealis - Trees and People of the Northern Forests by Jelle Brandt Corstius and Jeroen Toirkens will be published to coincide with the exhibition (Lannoo Publishing, ISBN 9789401452373).
The Borealis project receives financial support from ASN-bank, Dutch national forestry service Staatsbosbeheer and the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. Trouw newspaper is a media partner.