The boreal forest is the largest vegetation zone on earth and makes up around 29 percent of the total forested area. With a total surface area of around nine million square kilometers, it is considerably larger than the Amazon rain forest, which covers around seven million square kilometers. Deforestation has accelerated rapidly, particularly in Russia since the fall of communism.
Boreal forests convert carbon dioxide into oxygen on a massive scale. The average tree produces enough oxygen over a hundred-year period to allow a human being to breathe for twenty years. Together, the tropical rain forest and the boreal forest act as our earth’s lungs. Yet less than twelve percent of these forests is a protected area. In Canada, eight percent of the boreal forest is a protected nature reserve, and in Finnish Lapland, because of campaigns by Greenpeace and the Indigenous Sámi population, 90 percent of the primeval forest is protected.
For Borealis, photographer Jeroen Toirkens and journalist Jelle Brandt Corstius will visit these forests in search of the stories and people in the forests. Who lives in them? How do they live? And how do the forest-dwellers relate to their surroundings? For the project, they will be focusing on the boreal zone in the Northern Hemisphere, a chiefly coniferous circle that extends across Europe, Asia and North America.
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Drawing on our own network, individuals will be given the opportunity to subscribe to Borealis upon payment of a fixed annual or monthly subscription. When the project begins, they will receive a beautifully designed wooden case with space to hold the book and individual photos. At least twice a year, subscribers will receive a photo, a handwritten text and a postcard or "relic" from along the way. This will enable them to build up their own project collector’s box, and to play an active role in the project’s creation. In 2020, subscribers will receive a copy of the book to round off their collection. The boxes will be signed and numbered and participants will be named in the book.