Around the Block: Dark Forest

Taking the tourist root

Most of Minecraft’s overworld is pretty safe during the daytime. Hostile mobs like zombies, skeletons, and spiders need darkness to spawn – and the sun is bright enough to keep them away. But there’s one biome that still poses a danger, even in the middle of the day. It’s the dark forest.

Dark forests were added to Minecraft in The Update That Changed the World, alongside stained glass, podzol, and pufferfish. Originally they were called “roofed forests”, referring to the way that the canopy forms a roof, but then we decided that Dark Forest was a better name.

There are two kinds of dark forest – the first is the normal one, which is the most dangerous. But it’s also possible to find a more hilly variant, where steep hills and cliffs break the canopy. These are safer in some ways – the hills allow more sunlight to get in, and more dangerous in others – you don’t want to fall off a cliff.

Dark forests are much denser than other forests. The trees grow closer together, and their leaf canopy blocks sunlight from reaching the forest floor. In some places, the foliage is so dense that it gets dark enough for zombies, spiders, and skeletons to crawl out of their lairs and prowl in the daytime.

So why bother venturing inside? Well, there are plenty of resources to collect. A lot of wood, for starters – oak, dark oak, and birch trees will all generate in dark forest biomes, as well as huge red and brown mushrooms, dandelions, poppies, lily of the valley, rose bushes, peonies and lilacs. You’ll also find sheep, pigs, chickens, and cows wandering around, drinking from the occasional lake.

But the most compelling reason to visit a dark forest is to find a woodland mansion – huge structures, built by illagers, full of valuable loot. Assaulting a woodland mansion is no joke, they’re much more dangerous than their name suggests. But the rewards can be worth it.

If you do choose to invade one, then it might be worth setting up a small base outside a mansion before you venture inside. That way you don’t have to run for miles if you succumb to its inhabitants’ attacks. But longer stays in a dark forest are not advised – the danger of mobs spawning in the daytime, and the ease of getting lost amongst the trees, make it a poor place to set up home more permanently.

In the real world, a forest that shows no signs of disturbance by humans is called “primary forest” and there isn’t very much of it – only about 20 percent of the original forests that existed on Earth before humans remain. 

This is a problem because primary forests are extremely valuable – they purify water, generate the oxygen we breathe, store carbon, control flooding, and provide a home for millions of species.

More than half of what’s left lies within just three countries – Brazil, Russia, and Canada, and in some parts of the world - like Europe, only about 3% remains. The ones that are left we do have left are increasingly becoming tourist attractions, which brings its own issues.

Minecraft’s overworld contains as much forest as you want – and you can always generate a new world if you need to. But unfortunately, we can’t do the same for our Earth. So let’s try and keep our real-world dark forests safe by leaving them alone.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere