A Walk in the Woods

Forbidden Forest

“British, French, American, and German armies fired approximately 720 million shells and mortar bombs on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918. Military experts estimate that as many as one in five rounds of ammunition fired by either side failed to explode… 16 million acres of France were cordoned off at the end of 1918, including the 2 million acres around Verdun. Known as the Zone Rouge, they remain forbidden territory to this day. The Département du Déminage was created after the end of the Second World War to find, remove, and destroy shells and bombs from both wars. This activity has cost the department 630 démineurs to date, all killed while clearing unexploded munitions. At the current rate of clearance it is a conservative estimate that the Département du Déminage will still be finding these weapons nine hundred years from now.”

 — From “The Forbidden Forest,” photographs and text by Jonathan Olley



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