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Apart from simply being a piece of land that has many trees, a forest is home to many species of plants and animals. Forests form a very important part of our ecosystem, and it is impossible to imagine our survival without them. Let us find out some interesting facts about forests that you can share with your kids!
What Is a Forest?
In simple words, any land area that is primarily dominated by trees can be categorized as a forest. Large forests are an ecosystem in themselves, consisting of varied types and species of trees, which support and sustain other life forms that are equally diverse. A more formal definition, a forest is an area or piece of land covered with approximately 10 per cent or 0.5 hectares in area of trees, as per the FAO or Food and Agricultural Organization.
Types of Forests
Forests are majorly classified into three main categories, and here is some forest information for kids that talks about different types of forests:
1. Tropical Forests
These kinds of forests experience more than 100 inches of rain every year and do not undergo winters. The high amount of rainfall ends up leeching nutrients from the soil, and that is why the soil quality of such forests is poor. Tropical forests boast a wide variety of plant and animal species than any other kind of forest. They have temperatures ranging from 68 to 77 Fahrenheit. There are different kinds of tropical forests, such as:
- Seasonal: A short dry season is experienced; otherwise, they remain evergreen for most of the year.
- Evergreen: Rain is experienced all through the year with no dry season.
- Dry: These kinds of tropical forests experience long dry seasons.
- Tropical and sub-tropical: These kinds of forests have warm and dry climates, and the plants and animals living in them adapt well to the changes.
- Sub-tropical: These kinds of forests are present at the north and south of tropical forests, and trees adapt well to the summer droughts.
- Montane: Also called the cloud forests, these forests thrive on precipitation achieved through the mist or fog that rises from the lowlands.
2. Temperate Forests
Temperate forests are found in Northeast Asia, Europe, and North America, and the temperatures range from -22 to 86 Fahrenheit in these kinds of forests. These are further divided into two categories:
- Temperate deciduous forests: These kinds of forests experience all four seasons, and precipitation is experienced all through the year, through rains in the summer, spring, and fall, and as snow in the winter. The soil in these forests is very fertile, and 30 to 60 inches of rainfall is experienced in a year. Oak, birch, and maple trees are some commonly found trees in these forests.
- Temperate coniferous forests: These forests experience heavy rainfalls and mild winters. Sometimes, places with mild climates and inland mountainous regions have these kinds of forests. High levels of precipitation and moist weather result in a prolonged growing season. With a thick layer of decaying matter, the soil of these forests is highly fertile. These forests experience an annual rainfall between 50 to 200 inches.
3. Boreal Forests
Boreal forests or Taiga forests are found in the regions of Northern Asia, Canada, Siberia, and Scandinavia. Around 65 per cent of the boreal forests are found in Scandinavia alone. These types of forests experience long winters and very short summers, and precipitation, which ranges from 15 to 40 inches, majorly comes in the form of snow. The trees found in these forests are evergreen. However, the soil is very thin because of the sluggish decomposition rate due to cold weather.
Why Forests Are Important
Forests are not only a safe haven for the animals and plants that fall within its ecosystem, but they are utterly important for humans, too. Here are some reasons and amazing facts about forests that explain why forests are important to us:
1. Help in keeping the earth cool
Forests are our saviors in fighting global warming, which is becoming an increasing cause of concern. Trees absorb CO2 or carbon dioxide (that is required for photosynthesis), one of the most prominent culprits of global warming, thus saving our environment in return.
2. Help in climate stability
The process of photosynthesis helps the plants make their own food, and helps to bring stability to the earth’s climate. This happens when trees take away carbon dioxide from the environment and release oxygen in return. This helps in cleaning and purification of the atmosphere and thus averting climate change.
3. Help us breathe
A single tree is believed to emit oxygen that can suffice 2 to 10 people’s oxygen requirement. Therefore, forests worldwide help in pumping out so much oxygen that it helps us breathe. Though there are other prolific sources of oxygen, trees play a major role in providing the elixir of our lives.
Apart from the above-mentioned advantages, there are many forest products that we can derive from forests, such as timber, honey, medicinal herbs, firewood, edible fruits, etc.
Amazing Forest Facts for Kids
Here are some amazing forest facts for children:
- Insects are the only kind of creatures that are found in all kinds of forest zones. Also, there are more herbivores than carnivorous animals in forests.
- The United Nations launched the International Forest Day in the year 2012. Since then, every year, this Day is celebrated on the 21st of March, to promote the importance of trees and forests.
- Forests cover approximately eight per cent of the total surface area of the Earth, and around thirty per cent of the Earth’s land surface area.
- There are hundreds of billions of trees on our planet, though the exact numbers may be difficult to establish. According to a survey held in 2015, the tropics and subtropics have around 1.4 trillion trees, the boreal has approximately 700 billion, and about 600 billion were reported in the temperate forests.
- A tree species found in California, known as redwood trees, found in the redwood forest, can grow up to 350 feet in height. Some of the trees in the region are as old as 2,000 years!
- Some trees, like pine trees, do not lose their leaves even in the winter months.
- About 80 per cent of the planet’s plants and terrestrial animals are found in forests.
- Apart from Antarctica, temperate forests are found in all other continents.
- About 50 per cent of forest area is present in just five countries globally – Russia, Canada, the United States of America, China, and Brazil.
- Out of more than 10 billion acres of the forest area of the planet, only 1.8 billion acres is protected.
- Around 90 per cent of forest fires are started by humans.
Forests are a blessing to mankind and are essential for sustaining a healthy environment for all living beings. Educate your child about forests through this post, which will surely help provide valuable insight!