She took 522 photos of an ethereal forest. See which ones made the cut.

Photographer Orsolya Haarberg submitted these breathtaking images of the mist-shrouded laurels of Madeira. Then our photo editor had to choose.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Madeira’s laurel forests spring from a mountainous Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic west of Africa. At elevations of 1,000 to 5,000 feet, ribbons of mist wrap the trees, creating cloud forests that support many endemic species. 

Draped in moss and fringed with ferns, the laurel forests of Madeira are echoes of the ecosystems that held sway across southern Europe millions of years ago. Norway-based photographer Orsolya Haarberg recalls that when she hiked among these trees, some perhaps 800 years old, she felt as if she were “entering a holy space.” Haarberg’s images, which ran in our May 2022 issue, bring attention to the beauty of Europe’s old-growth forests. About 2 percent of the European Union’s forested area is undisturbed by human activity, preserving a rich tapestry of nature.

Haarberg took 522 images in the field in Madeira. Photo Editor Kurt Mutchler had the tough job of choosing among them. Orange (final selects) marks photos that reached the last round, blue (published) those appearing in the magazine.

This story appears in the December 2022 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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