Types of Forests
Forests can be classified in different ways and to different degrees of specificity. One such way is in terms of the biome in which they exist, combined with life longevity of the dominant species. Another distinction is whether the forests are composed predominantly of broadleaf trees, coniferous trees, or mixed.
- Tropical Rainforest
- Temperate Deciduous Forest
- Temperate Coniferous Forest
- Montane forests
The tropical rainforests contain the greatest diversity of species of all biomes on earth. They are found around the equator, between 23.5 degrees N latitude and 23.5 degrees S latitude.
Temperatures in tropical rainforests remain between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. Winter is absent in these forests. Most tropical rainforests receive 100 inches of rain per year. The temperature is warm and the air moist, decomposition happens at a very fast rate in tropical rainforests. High levels of rainfall often lead to leaching of nutrients from the soil, creating soil that is nutrient poor.
Trees in the tropical rainforests grow between 82 and 115 feet tall and are typically broad-leafed trees. Other plants include ferns, vines, mosses, palms and orchids. Hugely dense, lush forest with canopies preventing sunlight from getting to the floor of the forest.
A vital storehouse of biodiversity, sustaining millions of different animals, birds, algae and fish species.
Temperate Deciduous Forest
Temperate deciduous forests are located in Eastern United States and Canada, Western Europe and parts of Russia, China and Japan. There are four distinct seasons in temperate deciduous forests and precipitation falls throughout the year, as rain in the spring, summer and fall and snow in the winter. Temperate deciduous forests receive 30-60 inches of rain per year.
The soil in these forests is very fertile. The forest floor in temperate deciduous forests supports mosses, ferns and wildflowers and the understory supports a variety of shrubs and ferns. Maple, oak and birch trees are some examples of the deciduous trees that dominate these forests. There are also small numbers of evergreen trees such as pines and fir.
Animals living in temperate deciduous forests must be adapted to cold winters. Common species found in temperate deciduous forests include, red fox, hawks, woodpecker and cardinals.
Temperate Coniferous Forest
Temperate coniferous forests are typically found in coastal areas with mild winters and heavy rainfall or in in-land mountainous areas with mild climates. Examples of where these forests are found are Pacific Northwestern United States and Canada, southwestern South America, Southern Japan, New Zealand and small parts of northwestern Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Norway).
Temperate climate with temperature that fluctuates little throughout the year. High levels of precipitation (50-200 inches per year) cause a moist climate and a long growing season.
Soil is generally rich with a thick layer of decaying material. Evergreen conifers dominate these forests. Due to the high levels of precipitation and moderate temperatures, there is a long growing season, resulting in trees that grow very tall. Dominant tree species found in temperate coniferous forests include cedar, cypress, Douglas fir, pine, spruce and redwood. There are some deciduous trees such as maple, and mosses and ferns are common.
Animals that live in temperate coniferous forests are, deer, marmot, elk, black bear, salmon, spotted owl, marbled murrelet.
Unsustainable forestry, road construction and other development related activities are the biggest threat to temperate deciduous forests.
A forest in the montane zone of tropical and middle latitudes. It differs in floristic composition and ecological character from that found at lower elevations in the same latitude, and in both respects often has strong affinities with forest found in the lowlands of adjacent higher latitudes.
Known as cloud forests because they receive most of their precipitation from the mist or fog that comes up from the lowlands.
Usually found in high-elevation tropical, subtropical and temperate zones. Plants and animals in these forests are adapted to withstanding the cold, wet conditions and intense sunlight. Trees are mainly conifers.
Has around 7% of global forest cover (140 million hectares).
Produces more sustainable timber and fibre than natural forests.
Plantations produce around 40% of industrial wood.
Plantation forests are on rapid increase.