Types of Forest
Forest is a very broad term and one of the essential components of the Earth. Forests almost cover one-third of the Earth's surface and consist of around 3 trillion trees. However, they are dwindling because of population and commercial exploitation. They exist worldwide in different climates, such as dry, wet, hot and cold regions. Forest properties may vary depending on the geological and climatic variations in particular regions.
Here, we are discussing the different types of forest. We also highlight the essential properties of each type. Before we discuss the different forest types, let's understand the definition of forest and how it is classified.
What is Forest?
Forest refers to a piece of land consisting of several trees. They are basic needs for many wild animals to live and survive. Besides, they are essential parts of the ecosystem, including different plants, trees, shrubs, and animals. The atmosphere temperatures, soil type, and rainfall are the most critical factors for the forests. Some places are too dry and too cold that forests cannot survive. Also, there are no forests in deserts, just some plants or trees in places where their roots can reach to the bottom of the land to get some underground water.
Forests can grow in places starting from the equator to the nearest Polar Regions; however, different climates will form different forests. Besides, different rainfall types also play a crucial role in forest growth, properties, and types. Forests are essential for the world in terms of global climate variation or even for the living.
Classification of Forest
Forests can be classified according to different characteristics. Based on latitude, we can broadly classify forests into three main categories: tropical, temperate, and boreal. They all have special characteristics that help them to grow in their specific climate. Let us discuss each in detail:
Tropical forests, also known as tropical rain forests, are commonly found around the equator in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. These are the forests that cover the highest species diversity-per-region globally, consisting of millions of different species. It is estimated that tropical forests consist of around half of all species present on Earth. However, they usually grow only in a small part of the entire Earth. The temperature is usually measured around 27 ° C (60 Fahrenheit). The atmosphere remains rainy and dry. Most tropical forests typically receive around 200 cm (80 inches) of rainfall throughout the year.
Balanced temperatures, and plenty of rain, combined with light for about twelve hours a day, create a favorable environment for various plants to grow more effectively. Trees usually grow with a high density that often prevents most of the light from coming to the surface. The branches and leaves are so dense that they allow only some light to penetrate to the understory. This leads to life in trees for most animals, such as monkeys, frogs, lizards, snakes, and small mammals. These animals can be found most often in tropical forests.
The soil quality of tropical forests is not considered good for agricultural purposes. However, it can be deep, but it lacks the nutrients required for farming and relevant plant growth. Typically, the soil has a thin layer of nutrients that helps most plants grow in these forests. The layer receives all nutrients from decaying animals and plants. Although it helps forests to keep many plants and trees, it is not suitable for agricultural needs. When these forests are harvested, the soil becomes useless after only a few years, as soon as the topsoil nutrient is depleted. Tropical Forest has many sub-categories of forests, such as Evergreen, Seasonal, Montane, Dry, Tropical and subtropical coniferous, Sub-tropical, etc.
Temperate forests mainly grow in the next latitude ring in Europe, North America, and northeastern Asia. In such places, there are commonly four well-defined seasons, including the winter season. The temperate usually varies from -30 ° C to 30 ° C (-22 Fahrenheit to 86 Fahrenheit). Most temperate forests typically receive at least 75 cm to 150 cm (30 inches to 60 inches) of rainfall throughout the year. Such moderate conditions and frost-free weather help temperate forests grow effectively.
Most of the tree composition is formed with the combination of deciduous trees and coniferous trees. Trees in these forests are predominantly leaf-shedding, characterized by tall, wide-leaved, hard-wooded trees, which beautifully grow leaves of many colors. The decaying fallen leaves, animals and suitable climate help create fertile soil. There are diverse sets of tree species in these forests, and there are often seen 3-4 tree species per square kilometer. The most commonly found tree species include oak, birch, elm, beech, willow, maple, hemlock and hickory trees. The most common animals found in these forests are squirrels, deer, foxes, mountain lions, wolves, black bears, rabbits, and many colorful birds.
Besides, temperate forests are the most affected type of forest due to human needs and many other activities. It is because these forests are located near the most habitable places. Land at these places has long been used for agricultural needs and grazing. Also, forest regeneration and ancient forests can be seen in great detail in small parts of the region. Hardwoods found in temperate forests are beneficial for manufacturing furniture and various other items. In addition to human needs, several remaining temperate forests have been changed to accommodate recreation and tourism. Temperate forests have many sub-categories of forests, such as Moist conifer and evergreen broad-leaf, Dry conifer, Temperate broad-leaf rainforest, Mediterranean, etc.
Boreal forests, also known as taiga, are mainly found in the sub-Arctic region between 50 and 60 degrees latitude. The region includes Alaska, Siberia, Canada and Scandinavia. These regions have two opposite seasons, such as a short, mildly-hot summer and a long cold, dry winter. Due to cold weather, rainfall is usually distributed in the form of snow. Temperatures vary from -40 ° C to 20 ° C.
Apart from this, the trees found in these forests are coniferous and evergreen. Trees have needle-shaped leaves that prevent snow from freezing on them and help them stand in the cold. The most common trees found in boreal forests are fir, pine, and spruce trees. Trees carry very little light to the surface through them, so there is usually very little increase in soil quality. Therefore, the land consists of a very thin layer of poorly-nutrient and acidic soil. Animals living in boreal forests can withstand prolonged cold temperatures and generally have thick fur or any other insulation within their body. Among most animals and species, bears, wolves, wolverine, moose, deer, caribou, lynx, bats, small mammals and colorful birds are some of the main ones.
Types of Forest
Forests can be divided into different types based on soil, climate, animal species, etc. However, they are mainly divided into the following five types, depending on the types of trees found in them, such as:
Coniferous forests are commonly found in the northern regions of Europe, Asia and North America. In most such areas, the atmosphere is cold, and the temperature is low. These forests mainly contain trees such as spruce, pine, fir and hemlock. Typically, trees found in coniferous forests are cone-bearing trees. This means that the tree has low bent branches with needle-like leaves, which prevents snow from freezing on the branches. Also, most trees are tall.
Deciduous forests consist mainly of broad trees, and the leaves of most such trees are shed during the period from early summer to autumn. New leaves come again with the coming monsoon season. Generally, trees have green leaves; however, the color often changes gradually to yellow, orange and red colors according to time and weather conditions. Deciduous forests are commonly found in Central and Western Europe, the Americas, and Northeast Asia. In most such places, winters are colder, and summers are hotter.
Mixed forests refer to forests that have coniferous trees as well as deciduous trees. These forests are mainly found in mountainous regions. Also, they are present in almost every part of the world. These forests contain various insects, colorful birds and mammals.
As the name suggests, Mediterranean forests are mainly found in, but not limited to, the Mediterranean climate regions. These regions mainly include five zones, such as Mediterranean, south-central and southwestern Australia, the Chilean matorral, the fynbos of southern Africa, and California's Mediterranean eco-regions with scrubland vegetation. However, Mediterranean forests' trees can also be found in other climate zones, especially in the nearest areas of the Mediterranean climate zones. These forests usually consist of broad-leaf trees, such as oaks and pines. Also, they contain different varieties of wildflowers and insect-eating birds. Vegetation types range from forests to woodlands, savannas, shrubs, and grasslands. These forests are also referred to as 'scrublands' and 'maquis'.
Tropical Evergreen and Semi-evergreen Forests
Tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests can usually be seen in regions with hot temperatures, such as Australia, America, Asia, and Africa. To be specific, these luxuriant forests are commonly found in wet tropical uplands and lowlands around the equator. They have abundant rainfall and are evergreen because they do not experience periods of drought. Contrary to common thinking, not all tropical forests occur in places with high, continuous rainfall. For instance, dry rainforests of northeastern Australia. These forests contain various insects, colorful birds and mammals.
Types of Forest in India
India has diversity in its natural flora, which can be experienced through the different types of forests found here. There are five major types of forest in India. They are known as the Tropical deciduous forests, Tropical evergreen or semi-evergreen forests, Tropical thorn forests, Littoral or swamp forests and Montane forests. These are based and classified on certain characteristics such as geographical features, major natural vegetation, climatic zones, rainfall, and more. However, if these forests are further sub-divided, we will have more than fifteen types of forests in India.
Importance of Forest
About 30% of the Earth's surface is covered by forests, which helps in livelihood. They are playing a crucial role in balancing flora and fauna. Listed below are some of the most important reasons why we need forests and why they are so important to us:
Along with providing habitat for animals and livelihood for humans, forests also provide water conservation, prevent soil erosion, and reduce climate change. Nevertheless, despite our dependence on forests, we continue to cut them for other human needs.