Białowieża National Park, Poland (2013)
Białowieża Forest is 10,000 years old. On the geological clock, that puts its birth just after the most recent Ice Age. It is the last of the European continent's primeval forests. In prehistoric times, lions roamed here; wolves, deer, ermine, beaver, fox and bison still do. Parts of the woodlands have remained untouched for those one hundred centuries— a living, breathing time capsule. Białowieża is a kaleidoscope of evergreen and broadleaved trees, ancient and moss-covered oaks and alders, pines and spruces. It is dotted with mist-shrouded bogs, fed by the watershed of the Black and Baltic Seas, on which the forest comfortably sits. It is the place where old-world faerie tales have been born, inspired by its inhabitants -- perhaps even some not visible to the human eye. Today, the forest is threatened by illegal harvesting of firewood by local villagers. The National Park's scientists and educators and hoping that the forest's human neighbors realize how fragile and irreplaceable Białowieża's ecosystem is.