The best countries to celebrate the International Day of Forests

  • family hiking in the forest
Published on 2018-03-21 at 09:00 by Maria Iotova
The benefits of forests for Earth and all of us who are on it are plentiful — they absorb carbon and reduce the effects of climate change, cool the air, scale down noise pollution, filter water, prevent flooding, and are home to a vibrant biodiversity. This year, if your expat project is unfolding in any of the countries below, you are very lucky because they have some fantastic forests to celebrate the International Day of Forests in.


The Sagano Bamboo Forest in Japan

The Sagano Bamboo Forest, a stone's throw from Kyoto, in the Arashiyama district, is recognised as one of the most beautiful forests in the world. The over 500-meter-tall bamboo stalks are the best illustration of the metaphorical meaning of this mythical plant, as a symbol of strength. The wide paths that cut through the groves can be explored either on foot or by bike, and the best time of the day for your expedition is early in the morning or in the evening when the site isn't overcrowded. The Sagano Forest isn't just a stunning sight — it is also one of Japan's 100 Soundscapes, as declared by the Ministry of the Environment. Listen to the soft sound when the trunks sway with every push of the gentle wind and enjoy nature's free concert.


The Great Bear Rainforest

The Great Bear Rainforest, often called the Amazon of the North, is home to one of the richest biodiversities on the planet. Four hundred kilometres of temperate rainforest stretch along the central and north coast of British Columbia, untangling a beautiful and wild landscape of fjords, waterfalls, giant cedar trees, and towering granite cliffs. In the Great Bear Rainforest, you are sharing the land with rare wolves, eagles, and the Kermode spirit bear, subspecies of the American Black Bear, which is recognised as a prominent Native American symbol and is the official animal of British Columbia. Also, the ocean hosts a profusion of marine life, including whales, sea otters, dolphins, and sea lions. A visit to this unspoiled land, and you will understand why the indigenous population is so heartily and spiritually connected with the land — you will be too.


The Hallerbos in Belgium

The Hallerbos or “The Blue Forest” as it's named after the vast purple and blue carpet of bluebells, which bloom every year around mid-April, is Belgium's fairytale site. Drive only 20 km south of Brussels, and be ready to enter into a magical world, where the mysterious images and the flowery smells will seduce you. The forest dates back to the 6th century, but due to the turbulent European history in the 1910s it was destroyed. Reforestation occured between the 1930s and 1950s, and ever since it's been preserved. When you are in the Hallerbos Forest, please remember to stay on the indicated paths, as stepping on the sensitive carpet of bluebells can cause irreversible damage to these gentle flowers.


Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, which covers 53,000 acres along Eel River in northern California. What makes this area unique is the 17,000 acres of old-growth redwoods, which are some of the world's most ancient redwoods. The park offers a plethora of activities, such as fishing, hiking, cycling, and horse-ring. There's no pressure to accomplish everything in one go, as there are more than 250 campsites to stay at. For those who feel a bit lazy, the park has a 50-kilometre road called the Avenue of The Giants, which allows for sightseeing by car. Are you ready to travel back in time?

Costa Rica

Costa Rica cloudforest

Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica belongs to the 1% of global cloud forests. Cloud forests are unique and rare because they need exceptional conditions in order to thrive — tropical or subtropical mountainous environments where the atmosphere helps for the creation of a consistent cover of clouds. The Monteverde Cloud Forest, which was established as a nature reserve in the early 1970s, is home to a wide variety of biodiversity (10% of its flora is endemic), and it is the base for significant scientific research. Visitors will be happy to know that all the income collected by the entrances and other services is allocated for educative, preservation, and research programs. If you are planning to explore the forest, keep in mind that the wildlife is often invisible to the inexperienced eye. However, a seasoned guide can help you make the most of your visit.   

How did you celebrate the International Day of Forests in your expat destination? Please share your story in the comments below.