At the initiative of botanist Francis Hallé, our association works towards the creation of a vast natural zone on a European scale – about 70,000 hectares (700 km²) – in which an undisturbed forest will evolve autonomously, renewing and developing its fauna and flora without any human intervention over a period of several centuries.
This land, which is in the process of being located, will be cross-border with a portion in France.
Because trees are vital to us
Trees, with their flora and fauna, are vital to us. We come from them, having originated in the summits of the African equatorial canopy. The environment that they enliven – plants, animals, living beings of all kinds, free and wild forests – is necessary to the existence of mankind. It produces the oxygen that we breathe.
There is an urgent need to restore vast spaces of lively, diverse and free nature.
What is a primary forest?
A primary forest is a forest that has not been cleared, exploited or modified in any way by man. It is a jewel of nature, a true culmination of biodiversity and aesthetics.
Capturing CO2, regulating the climate, preserving biodiversity, replenishing water resources…its benefits are immeasurable.
A primary forest is far more beautiful and is far richer in life forms than a secondary forest, which is gardened, degraded and limited. In Western Europe, primary forests have been gradually replaced by these “managed” forests.
It takes an estimated 1,000 years for a primary forest to reach a fully developed stage, or about 800 years when starting from a secondary forest.
Everywhere, forests have been destroyed
The world’s last remaining primary forests are located in the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Indonesia. They are all in alarming decline. By 1850, nearly all of the ones in Europe had disappeared: the beautiful Białowieża primary forest in Poland is the only one that remains today. Sadly, it too is in grave danger.
We have to act now!
Restoring a primary forest means...
Fighting climate change
Forests are a key response to global warming thanks to the decarbonation capacities inherent to a tree’s lifecycle on the one hand and the storage of carbon in the soil on the other.
Restoring a vast repository of biodiversity
Forests guarantee the regeneration of a repository of biodiversity, through the presence not only of small and large mammals, but also insects, fungi, cavity-nesting animal species and a tremendous variety of plant species.
Protecting human life
Forests contribute to the protection of human life against pandemics through the maintenance and development of ecosystems that are sufficiently vast and varied to guarantee a good balance for all living things.
Ensuring the abundance and quality of water resources
Forests contribute to climate regulation, rainfall, and the storage and filtering of water resources.
Plant and animal biology, botany, pharmacology… In addition to assessments and monitoring developments, there is so much to discover in natural environments that have been left undisturbed by humans. Facilities and observatories in this revived forest will enable scientists to observe, analyze and evaluate processes (flux towers, etc.) and generate knowledge.
Promoting territorial development, citizenship, the arts…
We envision educational and explorational activities for the general public taking place in this natural space, including teaching virtuous practices with regard to soils, natural spaces, fauna and flora. The goal would also be to promote a limited and (very) regulated kind of wildlife tourism.
A center for conferences and exhibitions about nature and wild forests in particular may also be opened.
We need your help !
This very long-term, multi-secular project is totally innovative in the very challenges posed by its duration and aims to pass on to future generations a natural heritage that is a source of life, knowledge and culture. It is an act and a message of solidarity for the future generations who will benefit from it.
Restoring a primary forest in Western Europe is not only possible: it is necessary. It’s just a matter of will.
We are working to create the necessary conditions (scientific, technical, legal, tenure conditions) for the development and establishment of a network of large intact natural landscapes within the framework of a European project.
Main photo: Aerial view of the Białowieża forest in early autumn. © Arnaud Hiltzer
Scrolling : © Bernard Boisson, © Pierre Chatagnon, Unsplash CC