Forests are a staple of the fantasy genre. From Middle Earth to Hogwarts, or the forests of Hansel and Gretel or Red Riding Hood, the forest is a setting that crops up time and again across numerous fantasy worlds.
Sometimes these forests are magical, as in the above examples, and sometimes they are not. A forest can be home to fairies, unicorns, outlaws (of both the dashing and dangerous varieties), secret hideouts, sacred springs and lost shrines.
But why is this? What attracts authors of fantasy, more than other genres, to the forest?