The word forest broadly describes an area that has a large number of trees. There are three general types of forest that exist: temperate, tropical, and boreal. Experts estimate that these forests cover approximately one-third of Earth’s surface.

Temperate forests are found across eastern North America and Eurasia. The temperatures of temperate forests vary throughout the year because of the four distinct seasons at these latitudes. Precipitation is abundant and lends to fertile soil that is able to support diverse flora like maples, oak, and birch. Deer, squirrels, and bears are just a few examples of the fauna that call temperate forests home.

Tropical forests are common to areas near the equator, such as Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America. Temperatures in tropical forests have been reported to range between 20 and 31°C (68 and 88°F). Tropical rainforests are the epitome of biodiversity. Animals include the endangered harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja)—a large predatory bird—which has become scarce throughout Central and South America, largely due to habitat loss.

Bonobos (Pan paniscus), an ape species that calls the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa their home, are also endangered. Deforestation and poaching for human sustenance have caused their populations to decline.

Tropical mangrove forests, characterized by trees and shrubs that grow in salty or brackish water, are found in the tropics and subtropics. The red mangrove forest on the Panamanian island of Escudo de Veragua is home to the critically endangered pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus).

The third type of forest is the boreal forest, also known as taiga. Boreal forests, one of the world’s largest land biomes, are found across Siberia, Scandinavia, and North America (Alaska and Canada). Boreal forests have a significant role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Temperatures in boreal forests are, on average, below freezing. Conifers, spruce, fir, and pine trees are the predominant needle-leaf plant species in boreal forests. Moose and deer are just a couple of examples of large herbivorous mammals in this environment. Most birds native to the taiga migrate to find warmer conditions during the forest’s harsh winters.

 

Forest Biome
Some forests, such as the Olympic National Park in Washington, United States, have been protected for future generations by preserves or national parks.
Noun

layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.

Noun

area of the planet which can be classified according to the plant and animal life in it.

boreal forest
Noun

land covered by evergreen trees in cool, northern latitudes. Also called taiga.

Noun

destruction or removal of forests and their undergrowth.

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

fauna
Noun

animals associated with an area or time period.

flora
Noun

plants associated with an area or time period.

Noun

all forms in which water falls to Earth from the atmosphere.

Noun

evergreen forest in cool, northern latitudes. Also called boreal forest.

Temperate forest
Noun

land covered by broad-leaved trees in milder climates.

tropical montane cloud forest
Noun

forest habitat found on mountains in tropical areas that are cooler than lower areas and covered with low-lying clouds most or all of the year.

tropical rain forest
Noun

grouping of tall evergreen trees, usually close to the Equator, which receives more than 203 centimeters (80 inches) of rain a year.