Trees existed over 300 million years ago, turning the Earth into a prosperous habitat for birds and animals. Even our arboreal ancestors lived and fed on trees. Today, trees cover almost one-third of the Earth’s surface. We don’t live in trees, but we cannot live without them. Although we heavily rely on trees, we take them for granted. It’s time to explore one of the planet’s most fascinating habitats and learn about forests.
Types Of Forests
There are three major forest zones divided based on their distance from the equator.
- Boreal or taiga
1. Tropical forests
Typically, you will find tropical forests around the equator in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. They have stable temperatures throughout the year. The high temperature, abundant rainfall, and twelve hours of light per day promote plant growth, and almost any living being can thrive here. Seasons are divided into dry and rainy. Most tropical forests witness at least 200 cm of rain each year. You will find plants and animals different from anywhere else on the planet in these forests.
Tropical forests are further divided into:
- Evergreen forests
- Tropical and subtropical coniferous
- Seasonal forests
2. Temperate forests
They are located between tropical regions with a moderate climate and four seasons: winter, fall, spring, and summer. Due to abundant precipitation and decayed leaves, the soil is fertile and can support various plants such as birch, oak, and maple. Generally, deciduous trees account for a large part of the tree composition.
Temperate forests are further divided into:
- Dry coniferous forest
- Temperate broad-leaved rainforest
3. Boreal forest (taiga)
The boreal forest climate is extremely harsh, but migratory birds and animals could adapt to such frigid temperatures. In Russia, Alaska, and Canada, you will find such forests primarily composed of conifers and deciduous trees.
Uses Of A Forest
Forests are much than trees. They provide habitats for all kinds of plants, animals, birds, and even humans and protect the overall health of other life forms on the planet.
1. Climate stability
Due to photosynthesis, forests are primary contributors to the Earth’s climate. They prevent climate change by releasing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide, controlling temperature rise, and purifying the atmosphere.
2. Ecological benefits
Forests help minimize the force of rainfall on the soil surface, preventing soil erosion. They also prevent runoff by absorbing water, so the topsoil will not wash away. Forests are natural water filters. They restore underground aquifers, collect and store water. Finally, they increase humidity, which affects temperature and rainfall.
Forests are one of the only biomes with such extensive biodiversity. Among the various trees, shrubs, bushes, fruits, plants, animals, birds, etc., you will find multiple species in forests.
4. Economic importance
Several communities survive on forest animals and vegetation, also a significant source of income for many people. Several medical drugs are produced from plants derived from these forests. Besides, forests provide raw materials for manufacturing industries and produce dyes, spices, and gums. Forests also promote tourism.
25 Facts About Forests For Kids
1. Forests cover large areas
The total forest area is about 5000 m2 or 4.06 billion hectares, accounting for 31% of the Earth’s land area. Ten countries own nearly two-thirds of the world’s forests. Here is some information: Russia 7.8 million square kilometers, Brazil 4.8 million square kilometers, Canada 3.1 million square kilometers, the United States 3 million square kilometers, China 1.8 million square kilometers, and 1.8 million square kilometers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
2. Forests have enormous biodiversity
Forests are home to more than 50% of all plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi. Depending on the location, the forest area equivalent to two football fields’ size may have more than 400 tree species. Due to consistent temperature and sufficient rainfall, tropical rain forests are the most biologically diverse. The Amazon rain forest has recorded the highest biodiversity ever. Other hotbeds where various species can be found are the Congo Basin, Central America, northwestern South America, New Guinea, and Borneo.
3. Forests nurture the soil
As mentioned earlier, forests can prevent soil erosion. They can stabilize the soil and maintain the ecological balance. Trees, mammals, birds, and insects together play a crucial role in maintaining and enriching the soil’s quality.
4. Forests help fight climate change
One of the leading causes of climate change is the greenhouse effect, and carbon dioxide is one of the gases that accelerate the greenhouse effect. Trees play a vital role in combating climate change by slowing it down. Forests are one of the largest carbon “sinks” globally. Carbon sinks absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Forests are known to trap and store carbon dioxide. When trees undergo photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide and build new materials such as leaves, roots, and shoots.
5. Forests provide food
Nearly 1.6 billion people in the world depend on forests for their livelihoods. About 60 million tribes and indigenous people rely entirely on forests. Forests are a rich source of food for most living beings,
6. Forests are natural aqueducts
Whether it is the world’s largest cities, such as Singapore, Mumbai, Madrid, Karachi, Jakarta, or the indigenous people, forests can provide relatively pure drinking water for everyone. Part of the drinking water in one-third of the world’s large cities comes from forests.
7. Forests keep things cool
When you are outdoors, where do you go for respite on hot summer days? Of course, trees. They shield you from the harsh sun rays and provide you a cool breeze to stay relaxed. The forest encourages rainfall, and rain causes a dip in temperatures. The benefit of rainfall is that it can promote the growth of trees!
8. Forests are good for the soul
On vacations, where do you head when you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life? Mostly, you will visit a place surrounded by a forest. After your vacation, you feel energetic and refreshed. According to multiple studies, trees help reduce stress, improve immunity, and boost overall mood. You may have experienced this when you stayed in a resort surrounded by a forest.
9. Forests provide a way of life
Forests are not only vital for plants and animals. They are an essential income source for millions of people worldwide, including skilled artisans, biologists, environmentalists, engineers, etc.
10. Forests help the soil stay in place
Soil is significant for keeping the ecosystem healthy. It protects the roots of plants and provides essential nutrients for plants. When the soil dries up and erodes, it will harm plants and the entire ecosystem. Forests play a crucial role in protecting the soil. The trees’ leaves catch rainfall and allow only the required amount to fall to the ground. This ensures the soil doesn’t wash away. Besides, the leaves form a kind of shelter, ensuring that the soil is protected from strong sunlight, so it will not dry out and will not be blown away by the wind.
11. Forests clean water
How well does it feel about drinking cold water to relieve thirst on a hot day? Well, this is another reason you want to thank forests. When it rains, the leaves collect and absorb the water. Over time, they will slowly release the water into the soil, then filter and release it into nearby rivers, reservoirs, and lakes nearby. Did you know that nearly two-thirds of Canadians depend on drinking water from forest runoffs?
12. Forests give you so much
From the wood for your furniture, cartons to hold eggs to the paper you use, all come from the forests. Next time you have some waste material at home, use it to make some exciting craft projects instead of discarding them. Make it your mission to reuse materials that fall from trees.
13. Forests are a breath of fresh air
The photosynthesis process allows trees to provide fresh air for humans and animals to breathe. The carbon dioxide you breathe out is absorbed by trees and convert into pure oxygen. Did you know that a mature tree is capable of providing enough oxygen for two to ten people each day?
14. Trees are social
Trees and fungal networks have a symbiotic relationship. Fungi help trees absorb more nutrients and water from the soil, and trees repay them by providing them with sugars from photosynthesis. This equation goes beyond giving and receiving. Trees are living things. Like other living beings, trees communicate with each other through the fungus on the forest floor. Think of it as an underground Internet connection connecting the entire forest. The fungi link the trees and form a large platform, suitable for resource sharing and communication. Interestingly, this sugar solution that the fungi receive is also routed to young sapling trees from the mother tree to ensure they can thrive.
15. Trees are old
Trees have existed since time immemorial. Yes, their lifespan is longer than that of all other species on the planet. Depending on the species, trees live as long as 100 to thousands of years! One of the oldest trees in existence even to this day is the Bristlecone Pine in the Great Basin of the United States. Similarly, olive trees can live up to 2,000 years. The oldest olive tree, the Vouves olive tree, is still producing olives in Greece!
16. Trees are perceptive
Did you know trees can perceive environmental parameters and consider them in their development? Trees can sense climate change and grow accordingly. For instance, roots can determine which soil is good and grow toward it while staying away from salty or poor-quality soil.
There is even evidence that mother trees help forests adapt to human-induced climate change through their communication network. Trees have lived for a long time and have undergone many changes. They keep such instances in their memory and plan carefully to survive.
17. Some trees emit chemicals
Don’t let the passive nature of trees deceive you. They are smarter than you think. Besides producing chemicals to combat leaf-eating insects, they can send airborne chemical signals to each other as a warning against insect attacks. Studies show some of these chemicals attract parasites and predators that kill the insects.
18. Trees came into existence after the Earth
The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. About 470 million years ago, plants in the form of liverworts and mosses came into existence. Slowly, 40 years later, vascular plants followed. However, even after tens of millions of years, barely any plant grew three feet above the ground. Today, Hyperion from the Sequoia sempervirens discovered in 2006 is the tallest tree, 115.85 meters or 80.1 feet high.
19. Earth has 60,000+ species
The Global Trees Campaign worked has for more than two years, consulting with experts worldwide to find the answer to the number of tree species on the Earth. Finally, in 2017, they concluded that there are 60,065 tree species. Before that, no one knew how many tree species existed. According to The Global Trees Campaign data, Brazil is home to 8,715 species. They concluded that 300 species are endangered, and more than half of the species have been found in only one country.
20. Tree rings determine age and predict climate change
To determine the age of the tree, you need specific information. You can find out when the period of tree plantation and its age by counting the annual rings of wood growth. The study of a tree’s age is called dendrochronology. Unfortunately, this does not apply to living trees unless you are an expert. Apart from age, these rings can indicate natural disasters, such as drought or volcanic eruption. Let us find out how? When the tree gets a consistent flow of healthy resources, the ring will thicken. However, when resources are scarce, the rings become thin.
21. Trees block noise
Through a phenomenon called sound attenuation, trees act as noise barriers and reduce pollution. Usually, sound attenuation occurs when sound waves dissipate until there is no energy to vibrate the air. Trees attenuate noise with masking, refraction, deflection, and absorption.
22. Trees can help to reduce stress
Everyone loves trees. They can lift your mood, make you happier and reduce stress. Humans have an innate affinity with nature, which is called biophilia. Research shows that trees release chemicals called phytoncides. When humans contact this substance, it immediately reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and helps relieve stress.
23. Most forest loss is the result of human activities
Did you know natural causes such as floods, parasites, fires, or hurricanes are only a tiny part of the cause of deforestation? A large part of deforestation is attributed to humans in the form of mining, paper, overpopulation, livestock ranching, agriculture expansion, logging, or climate change. This adversely affects humans and the planet. We should do everything possible to protect our forests.
24. Forests produce life-saving medicines
More than half of life-saving medicines come from the cornucopia of plants, shrubs, and trees. Over ¾ of anti-cancer drugs originate from plants and other natural sources in the rainforest. From heart disease, blood pressure, arthritis, dysentery, diabetes, etc., forest plants can cure many diseases. With the help of nature-derived medicines, you can treat more than 90% of the medical conditions known to humankind. We owe Mother Nature a lifetime debt!
25. Roots spread far and wide
Did you know most trees’ root radius is two to seven times the canopy radius? In dry conditions, they can reach seven times. Roots are opportunists. If conditions are favorable, they tend to grow more and absorb all possible nutrients. In dry conditions, they extensively stretch out to derive more soil nutrients.
The trees are not only beautiful. They are vital for the survival of life. Who knew that there’s so much to trees and forests than meets the eye? Share these amazing facts about forests for kids with your friends and amaze them. Also, don’t forget to play your part in protecting the environment around you. You need trees as much as they need you!
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