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Three Types of Forests (and Why They Are Important)

Aerial view of Ban Gioc waterfall.

The Earth, in its pristine form, is beautiful and magical. Its air fresh and nature abounding in all splendors. Billions of hectares of various types of forests covered the lands. These forests house thousands of species in an interconnected string of survival.

Forests supply oxygen immense enough to sustain the ever-growing population. Thus, they are rightfully considered as the lungs of the Earth.

But did you know that the reduction of trees has caused a significant decrease in our forest’s total area? Forest denudation has given way to civilization. It also stripped the Earth naked.

Today, only about one-fifth of forest areas remain. Imagine the fate of flora and fauna living on the forest floors. Imagine our chances as forests themselves become casualties that strive for survival.

Why do we need to protect our nature’s lungs? What are the other things that you need to know about various types of forests? What is the importance of forests to the flora, fauna, and humanity? Read on to learn more.

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The types of forests vary as they cross the Earth’s latitudes. There are three main types, namely: tropical, temperate, and boreal forests. These classifications are based on their locations in the latitude. Further, they are sub-categorized according to topography, elevation, climate, and characteristics.

To learn about the differences between a jungle and a rainforest, check out our article “Jungle vs Rainforest: What’s the Difference?”

Tropical Forests

Tropical forest with stream.

The luscious evergreens define the tropical forests. These types of forests are present in equatorial regions. They receive plenty of rainfall and humidity. The temperature in tropical forests ranges from 20 to 25°C. It changes with approximately 5° temperature deviation during the wet and dry seasons.

Tropical forests house a huge number of animals and plants called biomes. Millions of species live interdependently in a rainforest. We call this complex dependency as biodiversity. The Earth consists of only 3% tropical forest yet is home to almost half of the total animal population.

The Amazon Rainforest is the biggest and the most popular tropical forest in the world. It is located in South America and covers a part of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Guyana. The Amazon Rainforest is not only a jungle of animals and plants but is also the supplier of the Earth’s 20% oxygen needs!

The tropical forests are also subdivided into:

  • Evergreen Rainforest
  • Seasonal Rainforest
  • Dry Forest
  • Montane Forest
  • Tropical and subtropical coniferous
  • Sub-tropical Forest

Temperate Forests

Temperate forest during autumn.

Rich and fertile soils cover the temperate forest’s floors. These types of forests cover most of America’s northern coasts, northeast Asia, and western and central Europe. They are also found in the temperate southern regions of America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Temperate forests survive a moderate climate and a brief period of frost. It clearly defines the four changing seasons. These types of forests paint the fall with brilliant colors. They also give way to the snowy white winters.

Temperate rainforests make up about 25% of the world’s forests. However, they have lower biodiversity than tropical forests. The trees there have broad leaves that shed off in winter. Smaller species of fauna thrive in temperate forests. Deer, foxes, timber wolves, mountain lions, and bears are just some of the animals living in these types of forests.

The seasonal rainfall categorized the temperate type of forests into:

  • Moist Conifer and Evergreen Forest
  • Dry Conifer Forest
  • Mediterranean Forest
  • Temperate Broad-Leaved Forest/Deciduous Forest

Temperate forests supply most of the wood that we use for furniture and other structures. Most hardwoods come from them. They are mostly affected by human activities and are often converted into agricultural lands because of their rich soil.

Boreal Forest

Boreal forest in winter.

The forest areas in Siberia, Alaska, Scandinavia, Canada, North America, Russia, and Eurasia are sporting conifers and evergreens. The mild summers and long winters in these high-altitude areas form the boreal forest. They are also called taiga in northern regions. The trees in a boreal forest have fine, needle-like leaves.

The animals living in taiga have thick fur to help them survive frigid temperatures. Even precipitation comes in the form of snow. The boreal biome also includes wetlands and freshwater surfaces.

Moreover, about 30% of the boreal forest covers the Earth. They have low biodiversity of trees but provide homes to thousands of species. Their soils are acidic and low in nutrients. The cold temperature will not allow the foliage to rot.

The boreal forest also provides man with necessities and food from fishing and hunting. Moose, bears, caribou, wolves, and bison are a few examples of animals living in the taiga.

Like the other types of forests, the boreal forest provides humanities with oxygen. But among them, the boreal wetlands store the largest amount of carbon dioxide. Thus, they greatly help in cleansing the Earth and easing global warming.

There are also two sub-categories of boreal forests.

  • Closed-canopy forests
  • High-boreal forests

The Canadian boreal region contains the largest wetland. They have lakes and rivers in their forest bed. It is also home to North America’s largest owl – The Great Gray Owl. Sustainable forest management helps preserve the Canadian boreal to ensure its sustainability. This way, it will be able to maintain its biodiversity for future studies.

Importance of Forests

A bottle of oil surrounded by herbs and conifer cones.

Like the Canadian forest management, other authorities protect the different types of forests. Not only because they provide shelter for wild animals and provide us with oxygen. Forests are more than just collections of trees. They provide so much more for humans while maintaining the Earth’s climate.

Provides Oxygen

Where else can we find fresh air other than in the forest? A single tree gives off oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide. Collectively, these trees can provide enough air to keep the whole world breathing. In turn, they also store harmful carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases to create a cleaner environment.

Natural Habitat

According to WWF, the forest is a habitat to about 80% of the Earth’s species. It consists of animals, plants, insects, and human races. They inhabit the various types of forests. Yes, people are living near, or even in the depth of the forests.

These are the indigenous group that survives in the woodlands. The forest ecosystem is made up of complex organisms. Their life cycle all contributes to keeping our nature in balance.

Gives Food

Leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and sap are just a few things that a forest can provide. Insects and edible fungi are bountiful food on forest floors. Freshwater fish also come from the forest lakes.

During hunting season, we can even legally obtain wild animal meat. Generally, forests are useful in providing humans with food through their diverse produce.

Influences the Weather

Ever wonder how evergreens in the rainforest keep their leaves all year round? Forests are great factors in creating rainfall. How did they do that? Tropical rainforests can regulate the weather through their ability to absorb and create rain. It is also partly related to their exchange of atmospheric gases.

In theory, the wind drives condensation from the forest to provide rain on nearby areas. For example, the Amazon Rainforest has its own microclimate. Thus, it can influence the weather of its neighboring regions.

Flood Control

The forests’ thick foliage can disperse rainwater. The leaves and trunks prevent a huge amount of rain from reaching the ground surface. Rains get soaked up in the trees’ canopy and body surfaces instead. This makes the different types of forests an excellent natural absorber of rain.

Further, the roots of these trees bind the soil firmly to keep them intact despite surging rains or harsh winds. Thus, it prevents soil erosion and lessens the tendency of dangerous landslides.

Natural Water Reservoir

A large supply of water comes from different types of forests bed. Although they absorb rain, they cannot soak them all up. These runoffs go deeper into the ground and get absorbed by aquifers. Aquifers are underground porous rocks that absorb water.

These rocks provide the water to wells and springs. Then, it becomes the major source of water for irrigation, sanitation, and drinking needs. Thus, it is important to preserve and keep our forests healthy. This way, we will never run out of potable water supply.

Natural Windbreaker

If you are driving on an open highway during a typhoon, strong winds are worrisome. They can cause highway accidents when drivers lose control of their cars. But driving near rows of trees gets easier to deflect harsh winds.

Similarly, forests can act as a windbreaker that slows down the wind. Most farmers are more than happy farming near the forest since they protect the crops from wind elements. Forests also help protect nearby communities on sudden surges of wind.

Reduces Noise

Forests are natural noise absorber. If you have ever been into one, you would realize how muffled the sounds are on the forest floors. You can compare it to an empty cathedral where you can suddenly feel spiritual. Their thick leaves and trunks are excellent noise absorbers.

Further, distinct animal sounds help mask noise pollution. This makes the forest one pleasant getaway for peace of mind and relaxation. However, remember that if you do want to trek the forest, leave everything untouched. Leave no trails and tracks of garbage and wastes.

Gives Medicine

The tropical forests are considered as the largest pharmacy in the world. That’s because they are home to herbal plants and medicines. The medical field harbors these plants for scientific studies. Then these medicines gave way to the development of a modern cure for diseases.

The synthetic medicines have all evolved from natural sources. However, only a small portion of the forests was tapped for modern cures. Furthermore, even a simple walk in the forest can already have a therapeutic effect.

Accordingly, trees emit phytoncides that promote healing and strengthens the immune system. That’s why Forest Therapy and Forest Bathing is also a thing for Japanese doctors. These, and other future medical development, will put so much hope for human health and further into the next generation.

Sustain Human Lives

The timbers and logs that make up our homes and furniture came from the woodlands. Shampoos, scents, cosmetics are also natural forest products. Paper and clothing and countless other products are merchandise that helps sustain human lives.

Besides, about 1.6 billion people in the world earn their living through manufacturing such products. Thus, the forest does not only offer direct benefits to humans. Livelihood and job opportunities have created an indirect source of income as well.

Forest Fun Facts

Closeup of rainbow eucalyptus tree.

Different types of forests cover around 4 billion hectares of the Earth’s land. Unfortunately, the area is depleting at an alarming rate. The statistics would change anytime soon. In little ways, you are encouraged to become a part of the solution in forest preservation.

Check out our article “10 of the Biggest & Popular Rainforests of the World”

Plant a tree or two to restore the damaged ecosystem. Support organizations that push for forest restorations. One of the best you can do is learning about them that you can pass the knowledge to others. This way, you can help raise awareness of the types of forests and their importance in our existence.

Here are some fascinating facts that would further amaze you:

The General Sherman

Did you know that the largest tree in the world lives in the temperate forest of California? General Sherman is a giant Sierra Redwood tree in the California Sequoia National Park. Its base measures up to 36.5 feet in diameter. Its volume is equal to that of an Olympic pool!

The Hyperion

If that doesn’t amaze you, then the world’s tallest tree might. The Hyperion secretly lies in the California National Redwood Park. This skyscraper tree stands about 379 feet tall!

Pando the Tree

Pando is the famous forest of just one tree located in South-Central Utah. It is considered the largest living organism on Earth. Pando looks like a normal forest, but in reality, it is just a single quaking aspen. It grows like a grove of trees in a 100-acre of a single root.

Armillaria Ostoyae

This largest living fungus sounds like a plot in a sci-fi movie. The Armillaria ostoyae is a single spore of a mushroom.  It massively grew into a vast fungus that kills trees on its way. Its filament has stretched up to 4 square miles in the forest of Oregon. This mushroom is aptly called the Humungous Fungus.

Hang Son Doong Cave

How large is the Han Son Doong cave in Vietnam? It houses an entire ecosystem of rain forest in its chambers! The 9-kilometer cave has portions of collapsed ceilings that allow sunlight to pass through. Vegetation thrives in its bed. It even has its own climate and biodiversity.

Aokigahara Jukai

In Japan, the Aokigahara forest is not famous for being a “Sea of Trees.” It is famous for being a suicide forest! This ethereal forest ranks as one of the most haunted forests in the world.

The Rainbow Eucalyptus

Tree trunks with colors other than brown or black or white will look a bit odd. Thus, this rainbow eucalyptus from the Philippines looks a tad weirder with its colorful bark. As the tree sheds off its brown bark, the display of orange, blue, purple, and other unusual hues emerge.

Jewels of the Earth

Rainforests are considered the Jewels of the Earth. Maybe all of them are. Hence, all types of forests provide us with all of our survival needs. What great lengths should you do to protect our natural treasures?