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People who live in the forest – modern hermits and escapists

Posted on August 16 2019

Away from the family, away from every luxury, away from civilization – people who decide to live in the great outdoors and spend their time in the forest – the forest people!

Menschen im Wald

We from NIKIN know that trees and forests are essential for life on earth – that's why we actively support the reforestation of forests worldwide. Since the emergence of mankind, more and more civilization has developed – societies and systems have emerged that function better or worse. Those that work better often have a serious effect on the health of people and nature. Even today, there are still indigenous people who have not modernised, are happy with it and live in nature. Therefore it is not surprising that more and more people leave our society and start a new life far away from civilization. But who are the people who live in the forest?

Why do people choose to retreat into nature?

There are many reasons why people retreat into the forest. One thing in advance, it is actually forbidden. For safety reasons, among others. Nevertheless, modern "forest people" are often allowed to stay in the forest. Because many of them are harmless. They retreat gradually and voluntarily, for example because they initially live professionally in and with the forest and gradually reduce their contacts with "civilization". Others see themselves as "guardians of the forest", want to make themselves useful, dispose of waste and simply be left alone. Quite a few forest dwellers have gone through psychological or social problem phases in the course of their lives and chosen the forest as a place of retreat.

Only very few can be described as conscious dropouts who suddenly turn their backs on civilization. And they often don't stay long – while the more well-known forest dwellers in Switzerland can often live undisturbed for decades and are tolerated to a certain extent.

It should also be mentioned here that there are of course people who live in the forest to hide themselves there: there are also so-called "crime tourists" who are just passing through and want to attract as little attention as possible.

A life in the forest – a romantic ideal?

How healthy or hard life is in the forest depends on the individual case. Frugal hermits sometimes manage without the advantages of civilization. Others are resourceful, work up their own wind and solar energy supply and even have a telephone connection. It's all a question of attitude. Whoever lives and survives for decades in the forest is usually quite healthy. Because everyday life brings with it a lot of often strenuous physical work, as well as a great deal of consumerism. This can even do you good, especially when it comes to nutrition. And here one can state: only the hard ones come into the forest. Those who do not adapt well to life in the manner of their ancestors and take care of themselves will either quickly give in or even become seriously ill. Because life outdoors is not a walk in the park, nor is it a romantic commune.

How healthy is the distance to civilization?

The way of life and everyday life of modern forest dwellers are very different. Some of them go or have gone into normal activities. The cultivation of fruits and vegetables for their daily needs alone takes up a lot of time, as does the collection of wood for their own needs in many cases.

Life in the forest does not exclude contact with civilization

Many "forest dwellers" are not hermits at all – like the Swiss "Diesel-Sepp", who used to drink his beer in the nearby village. And many forest dwellers have telephone and internet access, but all in the forest solitude. Others, on the other hand, want to turn their backs on civilization and not even claim social benefits, like the group of forest dwellers who left Bern (Switzerland) just a few minutes by car.

So the ways of life are as different as the "forest people" themselves – but one can assume that by no means everyone who retreats temporarily or forever under the trees is known. Who knows how many people live in the forest today and consistently avoid contact with civilisation? 


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