In 2020 alone, a combination of droughts and a raging bark beetle infestation spurred by the climate crisis diminished Germany’s spruce tree population by record numbers. The European nation lost an estimated 4.3 percent of the evergreen species, which tend to grow in both commercial and naturally established forests in the Bavarian Alps and along the southeastern border. Photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) visited these regions in the early part of 2021 to shed light on the enchanting beauty of the wooded areas that are undergoing substantial transformations.
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Endorsement for Spruce Forests captures the species’ ethereal nature as sunlight filters through fog and morning mist, casting a warm candy-colored glow on the landscape. Pink light illuminates the barren branches that splay outward alongside trees covered in needles, while other shots show the rough, labyrinth-like paths that wind through the hilly terrain. Despite their durable material, the spruce take on a delicate, gentle quality in Schönberger’s photos, which are informed by his understanding of the trees’ natural rhythms:
Huge woods were destroyed by the bark beetle within a few weeks. Since the lowlands are not the natural habitat of the spruce the bark beetles just restored the balance of nature… In the Eastern Bavarian mountain ranges with higher precipitation, I was looking for natural spruce forests and found a wood wonderland. That’s the area where almost homogeneous spruce forests will also grow in the next decades.
Schönberger frequently travels from his home in the Bavarian Alps across Europe, and you can follow his adventures on Instagram. Prints of Endorsement for Spruce Forests are also available on his site.