The world is full of incredible forests, but this foggy beech forest in Northern Spain is one of the most striking of them all.
Oskar Zapirain’s photos take us right to Oirtzun, Basque Country. In the sixteenth century, an abundance of both iron ore and forests fit for charcoal production presented families who worked the land with a vast economic opportunity. Seeing this charcoal forest as an asset, the people chose not to engage in clear-cutting–or the act of removing all trees from a given space–but pruned the trees instead.
In a process known as coppicing, young trees are cut down to allow a number of new shoots to emerge from the stump. Eventually the coppiced tree is ready to be harvested, after which point the process begins again. While this exact woodland management technique might not have shaped the charcoal forest in Oirtzun, processes like these allow more generations to extract the wood for charcoal.
The result is visible: the stumps stay relatively short, while the limbs reach upward like an outstretched hand. Combined with the region’s heavy fog, the scene becomes incredibly eerie and mysterious. According to This is Colossal, Oskar Zapirain has been photographing this Spanish landscape for years. The photographer continues to be attracted to its “mystical atmosphere” and uniform lighting. Check out more of his work at Flickr, or in the photos below: