A forest is a large area dominated by trees.
Forests are very important and grow in many places around the world.
They are an ecosystem which includes many plants and animals.
Although the word forest is commonly used, there is no universally recognised precise definition, with more than 800 definitions of forest used around the world.
The Food and Agriculture Organization definition of a forest is: Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres) with trees higher than 5 meters (16.5 feet) and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.
According to the definition above, forests cover 4 billion hectares (almost 10 billion acres) or approximately 30 percent of the world’s land area.
Temperature and rainfall are the two most important things for forests.
Forests can occur wherever the temperatures rise above 10 °C (50 °F) in the warmest months and the annual precipitation is more than 20 cm (8 inches).
They can exist from the equator to near the polar regions, but different climates have different kinds of forests.
Forests can be classified according to a wide number of characteristics, with distinct forest types occuring within each broad category. However, by latitude, the three main types of forests are tropical, temperate, and taiga or boreal.
Tropical forests are some of the richest, most exciting areas on earth. They are home to gigantic trees, colourful birds and a huge variety of fascinating mammals. About 80% of the world’s documented species can be found in tropical rainforests, even though they cover only about 6% of the Earth’s land surface – less than half the area they covered not so very long ago.
Temperate forests are those found in the moderate climates between the tropics and boreal regions in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. They may also be called “four-season forests” because the midlatitude climates harboring them tend to experience four distinct seasons. Temperate forests are characterized as regions with high levels of precipitation, humidity, and a variety of deciduous trees.
Taiga is the world’s largest terrestrial biome, covering 17 million square kilometres (6.6 million square miles) or 11.5% of the Earth’s land area. A different use of the term taiga is often encountered in the English language, with “boreal forest” used in the United States and Canada to refer to only the more southerly part of the biome, while “taiga” is used to describe the more barren areas of the northernmost part of the biome approaching the tree line and the tundra biome.
The Amazon rainforest is the largest forest in the world, covering over five and a half a million square kilometres (1.4 billion acres). The Amazon is estimated to have 16,000 tree species and 390 billion individual trees.
Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
More than 40% of the world’s oxygen is produced by rainforests.
By absorbing water and holding soil in place, forests reduce the risk of floods and mudslides that result from natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
Russia is not only the largest country in the world, but also the country with the largest forest area. The forest area of Russia alone is the size of the entire continent of Australia!
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and over than half of it’s size is forested area, large part of which is the amazon area and its rainforest. The forest area of Brazil is larger than India.
Canada is the second largest country in the world and its forest area is just about the size of India.
The United States has the 4th largest area of forest about 3 millions square kilometers (1,17 million square miles) of forest area which is about 30% of the US land.
People began life on this planet as forest dwellers. They were food gatherers and depended on the forest for all their needs: food, clothing, and shelter. They gradually became food growers, clearing a small patch in the forest to grow food. But they continued to depend on forests to meet a lot of their needs. Even today people depend on the forest for paper, timber, fuelwood, medicine, and fodder.
Three hundred million people worldwide live in forests and 1.6 billion depend on them for their livelihoods.
There are more than 1 billion hectares of lost or degraded forest lands worldwide which could be restored. This may increase to 1.5 billion hectares (about 2.5 billion acres) — almost the size of Russia — if boreal areas and forested protection of waterways and prevention of erosion in croplands are included.
The first known forests on Earth arose approximately 380 million years ago.
The word “forest” derives from Middle English, and from there from the Old French forest (also forès), denoting “forest, vast expanse covered by trees”; forest was first introduced into English as the word denoting wild land set aside for hunting without the necessity in definition of having trees on the land.