Fear of the forest 

Fear of the forest is pretty common among people. Imagine that you are alone somewhere in the middle of the forest. It gets dark and that’s when the imagination works most vividly. Like on purpose. Every branch turns into a monster that stalks behind you and every sound causes a small heart attack. Every moment you expect something to jump out at you..

Some people suffer from this phobia, but few people realise that the fear of entering the forest has an also official name. The fear of the forest is called hylophobia or xylophobia. It is a fear of the forests. 

Irrational fear of the forest

Fear of the forest is many times an irrational. Some people find that their fear is worse at night, while others are equally afraid at all times of the day. Fear of the forest is sometimes associated with other fears, such as the fear of animals, fear of dark or also fear of the unknow.

Rational Fears

Some people are afraid of the forests, because they can get ill or injured while hiking. Those who feel vulnerable, such as some women and children, may fear being attacked. Those who live in areas known for big animals (wolf, lynx, bear) may be concerned about coming into contact with wild animals.

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This fear is the forest is often a reason that people do not go to the forests

Fear of the wild animal

Fear of the wild animal is very often characterized by an increased level of concern that is disproportionate to the situation. In addition, some people are afraid of forest animals that pose little danger to people, such as shy or small animals (rabbit, squirrel, marten). This fear is often a reason that people do not go to the forests.

Fear of the dark forest

Fear of the dark are rooted in a fear of the forest. Heavily forested areas are relatively dark even throughout the day. Tall trees cast long shadows and dense forest undergrow create feeling of threat. This kind of fear can worsen the existing fear of the forest or even be the main reason.

Fear of the forest in a black night

Fear of the black night often starts in childhood and is viewed as a normal part of human development. Black night in a forest can become a stressful experience.  Studies focused on this fear have shown that humans often fear the dark for its lack of any visual stimuli. In other words, people may fear dark night because they cannot see what’s around them.

Fear of the unknown

For some people, the fear of the forest is based on the fear of the unknown. Modern society provides few opportunities to return to nature, and relatively few people are acclimatized outdoors. Unusual sights, sounds, smells and textures throw us off balance, making us feel wary. Forested areas can be full of animal sounds or extreme quiet.

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Every step in forest means surprise

Wild plants often seem far different then during daylight. Even walking through grass, mud or dirt feels far different. Every step means surprise. Every step means tripping over a branch or a stone. Who have a fear of the unknown may be exposed to an increased risk of anxiety when exploring the forest.

Children fear of the forests

Research revealed that generally, children are often scared of a forest and that the girls are more scared than boys. Children mainly fear natural threats (e.g., wild animals) and social risks, (e.g., threat from bad people).  


Since dark of the civilisation people used to have respect and many times also fear of the forests. Nowadays, more and more people, especially those growing up in cities, love the forest, but have a respect. They perceive the forest as a safe, free space with which they create a personal and often intimate relationship..

Alone in forests

Since the dawn of civilization, people have had respect and many times fear of forests. Nowadays, more and more people, especially those who grow up in cities, love the forest but have respect for it. On the one hand, they perceive the forest as a safe, free space with which they create a personal and often intimate relationship. On the other hand, they have a panicky fear, especially of the presence of large animals.

Even more exciting experience is to sleep in the forest alone. That is experience which not only test of my skills but recharge all my batteries for many following days.

Vlado Vancura
European Wilderness Society

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