Jeroen Toirkens (NL, 1971) studied Photographic Design at the KABK in The Hague and currently focuses on social documentary photography and slow-journalism, and has published extensively in national and international newspapers and magazines. In his first book Nomad (2011) Toirkens created a diverse and often poignant picture of nomadism in the 21st century. For years he has been searching for the last living nomads on the Northern Hemisphere. For his second book, Solitude: In the wake of Willem Barentsz (Lannoo, 2013) he sketched an intimate portrait of people living in solitude in the Arctic North of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, an area called the Barents Region, Europe’s last true wilderness.
The boreal forest is a circle of mostly coniferous trees stretching across northern Europe, Asia and North America. It’s the largest vegetation zone (biome) on earth and makes up around 30% of the total forested area. With a total surface area of around nine million square kilometers, it is considerably larger than the Amazon rainforest. Boreal forests, also known as taiga, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen on a massive scale. The average tree produces enough oxygen over a hundred-year period to allow a human being to breathe for twenty years. Together, the tropical rainforest and the boreal forest act as our earth’s lungs. Yet less than twelve per cent of these forests is a protected area. For the ongoing project ‘Borealis’, photographer Jeroen Toirkens and journalist Jelle Brandt Corstius have been visiting these forests in search of the stories and people in the forests. Who lives in them? How do they live? And how do the forest-dwellers relate to their surroundings?