Top 5 Old Growth Forest Documentaries

Guest post by Nataly Perez Manrique

Welcome to Part Three of our four-part forest documentary series. We’ve scoured the land to bring you a curated list of the best forest documentaries! Not sure what to watch this weekend? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

You may ask, “What is an old growth forest?” It’s a forest that has been allowed to grow and mature for a long time, usually at least 100 years. Wow! Unfortunately, old growth forests are vanishing across the planet as logging intensifies. These incredible places are so important for wildlife habitat, water filtration, and the incredible amounts of carbon they can store. Not only that, but they are beautiful and awe-inspiring. Go on a journey with us to visit remarkable old growth forests from all across the world!

old growth forest documentaries
Most trees in Japanese public spaces are highly manicured from the beginning of their life to craft a distinct aesthetic, like this intricate pine entanglement in the Yamagata Prefecture. Honshu, Japan. Photo: Garrett Grove

The Lost Forest

This National Geographic short documentary features an international team of scientists and explorers who go on an extraordinary mission in Mozambique to reach a forest that no human has set foot in. The team aims to collect data from the forest to help in our understanding of how climate change is affecting our planet. But the forest sits atop a mountain, and to reach it, the team must first climb a sheer 100m wall of rock. Where to watch: Available on YouTube.


Hunting Giants

A wilderness explorer searches for the largest old growth tree still standing near Port Renfrew, Canada, a logging town on the brink of collapse. This cinematic adventure into the old-growth rainforests of British Columbia explores the choices faced by many forest communities: do we remain focused on dwindling timber profits or reinvent ourselves into an outdoor recreation and tourist economy?


When Old Growth Ends

When Old Growth Ends tells a love story about the Tongass National Forest of SE Alaska through the eyes of the salmon, the old-growth trees, the Indigenous peoples, and a group of women with an affinity for wild places. The documentary illuminates how the failing timber industry and its government enablers have ruptured the heart of the Tongass, leaving the last remaining old-growth temperate rainforest in the nation vulnerable to completely unraveling. Where to watch: Available here.


Treeline

We couldn’t say it any better than Patagonia Films does of their feature length documentary:

“Quietly, patiently, trees endure. They are the oldest living beings we come to know during our time on earth. They provide our shelter, our fuel, our companions, and—in some cases—our divinity. They are living bridges into our planet’s enormous past, their obscure stories written into their rings over centuries and even millennia. Treeline takes us to the enshrined cypress groves of Japan, the towering red cedars of British Columbia, and the ancient bristlecones of Nevada, following a handful of skiers, snowboarders, scientists, and healers as they move through these giants and explore a connection older than humanity.”

Where to watch: Available on YouTube


Bury Me in Redwood Country

A documentary about the Redwood forest landscape. A forest where the tallest and largest trees on the planet can be found. The documentary includes interviews with Redwoods experts, foresters, conservationists, Native basket weavers, rangers, and naturalists.


Be sure to check out the others in our 4-part top forest documentaries series:

Part 1: Top 5 Forest Preservation Documentaries
Part 2: Top 5 Forest Restoration Documentaries


Nataly Perez Manrique is a Latin immigrant from Peru. She has a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Duke University. She is also an advocate for the eradication of violence against women and the defense of Indigenous peoples’ rights in her home country.

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