Bluebell flowers carpet the Hallerbos forest floor, Flanders, Belgium
© Jason Langley/plainpictur
A glimpse of the Blue Forest
What colour do you normally associate with a forest? You might say green, but Belgium's Hallerbos forest is sometimes called the Blue Forest, for obvious reasons. For about 10 days every year, usually in late April or early May, this very old forest floor is transformed as bluebell hyacinths wake up from their winter slumber and carpet it in blue.
Even though it's a bit early for the fleeting blooms, we’re featuring the Blue Forest today because it is the United Nations' International Day of Forests. The theme this year is reforestation, another thing that Hallerbos is known for. Large swathes of the ancient forest were destroyed by occupying forces during World War I, which prompted the Belgian government to roll out an extensive reforestation project starting in the 1930s. Within 20 years, Hallerbos was well on its way to being a healthy forest again, as the depleted native beech and oak trees were restocked.