A forest is an area with various naturally occurring flora and fauna because of different climatic conditions. The concept of a forest is as varied as the types, species composition, commodities, services it offers, etc. of a forest. Different elements such as latitude, climate, rainfall patterns, soil composition, and human activities influence many different forest kinds.
As seen below, there are four main layers that make up forests.
Emergent Layer: Around 200 feet from the emergent layer, the tallest trees in the forest can be found. These trees get lots of sunshine and have large leaves.
Canopy Layer: Just behind the emergent layer is the canopy layer. A network of branches and leaves with smooth, oval shapes thickens it. It is the forest's foundational layer.
Understory Layer: Sunlight cannot enter the understory layer; thus, plants grow bigger leaves to capture it.
Forest Floor: Because sunlight cannot enter this stratum, it is gloomy and damp. It provides fungi with a rich environment in which to develop. This stratum is where decayed leaves, branches, & dead animals are found.
Depending on their latitude, forests can be classified as boreal, temperate, or tropical.
Boreal forests, often known as taiga, are found across North America, Asia, & Europe between 50 - 60 degrees latitude. Underneath the boreal forests is terrain that was carved by glaciers, whose impact may be seen in the region's geology, hydrology, and soils. Boreal forests have lower species diversity than temperate & tropical forests because of the harsh, cold temperature that makes life there challenging. Boreal forests are home to various flora and animals that have been uniquely adapted to survive the harsh climate and short growing seasons. Boreal forests are significant carbon sinks due to their size and isolation.
The boreal forest has the shortest planting season of the three forest types, lasting about 130 days. Boreal forests frequently feature nutrient-poor, acidic, shallow soils. Although certain well-adapted deciduous trees, like willows, poplars, & alders, are also present, conifers predominate in abundance. Significant species include tamarack, jackpine, balsam fir, & black and white fir. Cranberry and blueberry bushes in the understory give animals in the area high-energy food.
The animals that inhabit boreal forests have been uniquely adapted to withstand year-round poor resource availability and extremely cold temperatures, which can go as low as -22 degrees F (-30 degrees Celsius). One of the few animals that can survive year-round in the taiga is the boreal caribou, which forages over a million acres to do so.
During their yearly migrations, various bird species stop at wetlands in boreal forests. As the seasons change and food becomes scarcer, they migrate south.
Boreal forests are seriously threatened by climate change. Unnaturally high temperatures cause the earth to saturate and grow mushy, and numerous trees eventually lose their support and perish.
Types of Boreal Forest
Open Canopy Boreal: Boreal forests with an open canopy, also referred to as lichen woodlands, are found at higher latitudes with smaller species richness.
Closed Canopy Boreal: Closed Canopy Boreal is found at lower latitudes. These forests are characterized by richer soil & denser tree stands, which prevent much light from reaching the forest floor. However, fewer adverse conditions result in a higher species variety.
Temperate forests are found in the mid-latitudes and have four distinct seasons. Very few remaining areas of an old-growth temperate forest; secondary woods predominate in this region. Temperate forests made up about 16% of the planet's total forest cover as of 2020.
Temperate woods are home to species that have adapted to seasonality. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter oaks, hickories, and many more to conserve energy. In temperate forests, bears, bobcats, foxes, and deer can hoard food, modify their diets, or hibernate to deal with the shortage of nourishing food in the winter.
Although seasonality is a feature of temperate forests, their annual precipitation and temperature range greatly, depending on the region and season; the annual temperature varies from 22 degrees F - 86 degrees F. Rainfall in temperate forests ranges from 30 - 59 inches annually. Organic matter is typically abundant in soils, making them nutritious and providing plants with nutrients for growth. Many threatened species can be found in temperate forests.
Temperate Forest Types
Deciduous Forest: This type of forest is primarily composed of deciduous trees, which fall their leaves during the colder months and go into slumber.
Coniferous Forest: More evergreen, cone-producing trees can be found in this area.
Temperate Rainforest: These jungles report incredibly high precipitation levels with mild temperatures.
Tropical forests are among the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems, and they can be found at 23° north & south, halfway between the Capricorn and Cancer Tropics. These forests occupy only one-tenth of the planet's surface but are home to 50% of all species. 11 They are also among those most at risk from human activity.
Tropical forests provide generally controlled environments, allowing life to flourish. With temperatures ranging from 68 to 77 degrees F and 79 - 394 inches of precipitation annually, they are the warmest and wettest forests on earth.
Tropical forests are renowned for their amazing biodiversity. For instance, 10% of all known species on the planet reside in the Amazon rainforest.
Tropical forests are particularly effective at digesting nutrients because of their diversity. Decomposers break down dead and rotting stuff quickly, and another creature nearly immediately absorbs it. The result is nutrient-poor soils in tropical forests. Tropical forests are in danger from human activities, including poaching, logging, and clearing land for agriculture.
Tropical Forest Types
Evergreen Rainforest: Often regarded as the "real" rainforest, these tropical forests are the wettest (averaging about 80 inches of rain annually) and most diversified in terms of plant life.
Tropical Moist Forest: Tropical wet forests get more seasonal changes and less overall rainfall than evergreen rainforests since they are located farther from the equator.
Tropical Dry Forest: Gets very little rain for four to six months of the year. To cope with this time of water constraint, animals and plants have developed specific adaptations.
Mangroves: Coastal tropical forests with trees that can survive in brackish, fluctuating water. Mangroves serve as a nursery for aquatic creatures and shield the shore from storms.
What Function do Forests Serve?
Forests serve as many animals' natural habitats. The trees provide oxygen for the atmosphere. They affect the local precipitation. Additionally, they provide us with goods like food, medicine, clothes, paper, wood, and other essentials.
The carbon content of trees is the highest on the globe, making them essential for preserving the earth's temperatures. It is believed that the rise in levels of carbon dioxide is the primary cause of global warming. Despite the benefits, deforestation has grown quite common in the contemporary era, generating a variety of issues such as pollution, soil depletion, and climate change. Here are a few explanations for the value of forests to all living things and the need for their proactive preservation.
Every year, countless trees are cut down to meet the rising demand from people. We must take proactive measures to safeguard forests and improve the surrounding flora if we want to conserve the living beings that depend on them. This forest also protects the land by shielding it from the bad effects of erosion & climate change, which ultimately serves as a useful and more tangible function that creates income instead of those provided by the nation's military force.
By engulfing the whole area in its canopies, forests also serve as a natural barrier against aerial attack.
Forest Issues & Threats:
Our responsibility is to safeguard and maintain the forests for present and future generations, as well as for the quality of life of animal species and other living things. Forests are a crucial component of our ecosystem. We must not take down trees to enhance air quality and plant more.