In 2020 alone, a combination of drought and a bark beetle infestation caused by the climate crisis reduced the German spruce population after record numbers. The European state lost an estimated 4.3 percent of the evergreen species that grow in both commercial and naturally occurring forests in the Bavarian Alps and along the southeastern border. photographer Kilian Schönberger (before) visited these regions in early 2021 to shed light on the enchanting beauty of the rapidly changing forest areas.
Recognition for spruce forests captures the ethereal nature of the species as the sunlight filters through mist and morning mist, casting a warm candy-colored glow across the landscape. Pink light illuminates the bare branches that spread outward next to needle-covered trees, while other shots show the rough, labyrinthine paths that meander through the hilly terrain. Despite its hard-wearing material, the spruce in Schönberger’s photographs takes on a delicate, gentle quality that is shaped by his understanding of the natural rhythms of trees:
Huge forests were destroyed by the bark beetle within a few weeks. Since the lowlands are not the natural habitat of the spruce, the bark beetles have just restored the balance of nature … In the lower mountain ranges in eastern Bavaria I looked for natural spruce forests and found a forest wonderland. Almost homogeneous spruce forests will grow there over the next few decades.
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