These images by
aim to capture the wonder of this unique woodland, and the relationship that exists between the people and the land.
Forests blanket more than half of the Latvian landscape, and are deeply rooted in the nation's traditions. This photographic project by Gignouxphotos documents the beauty of an extraordinary Baltic landscape, and explores the unique management of the forest, which is providing profound social and environmental benefits for the local population.
Around one third of Latvian residents live in the countryside, depending on the forest for building materials, food and their general way of life. Many Latvian people take to the forest for refuge – for hunting, sports, picking mushrooms and berries. Many more work in the country’s thriving timber industry.
It's national recreation to be in the forest
Latvia lies to the east of the Baltic Sea, at the intersection of Western Russia, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. The country’s strategic location means Latvia’s cultural traditions have endured centuries of trade, war and conquest. The country understands the importance of the long-term.
The forest areas within the Baltic state have doubled in size over the past century, and are still growing. Following Latvia’s independence in 1990, afforestation of barren land and ex-farmland has become increasingly widespread, leading to an increase of 60,000 hectares a year.
Latvia has passed the Kyoto Protocol objective to reduce harmful emissions by 8% in 2012. This is thanks largely to the country’s mature trees absorbing two times more CO2 than that produced by the whole of the Baltic nation.
Still, the forestry sector is able to account for one of Latvia’s leading exports, with around 75% of its yield going overseas.
Biological diversity is of extreme importance, as there are thousands of rare species within the territory, many of which are protected. Ornithologist, Maris Strazds, points out that a substantial amount of the forest must remain the same for long periods of time to stabilise the plant and animal life within it.
The average age of a nest tree for Black Storks is 207 [years].
Latvia's Forest Policy, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on April 28th, 1998, combines the voices of the public, activists and institutions within the forest industry. It carefully outlines plans for the sustainable management of the forests. The foundation of this policy is to ensure the preservation of the forest’s diversity, while still being able to support the economic and social way of life the forests have provided for centuries.
Latvian national parks are all certified in accordance with the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), and hundreds of companies have received various certifications from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council.)
I cannot imagine the landscape of Latvia without it.
Maris Strazds [talking about the forest]