Forests contain the overwhelming majority of life on Earth, including a staggering 80% of the planet’s terrestrial species. From the humid tropical rainforests of the Amazon to the temperate treetops of the Pacific Northwest, forests are incredibly dynamic and diverse environments; they provide warmth, shelter, water and food, and so are havens for a multitude of plants and animals.
But, while it can be easy to look at a forest and simply see ‘trees’, the incredible diversity of this plant group should not go unappreciated. There are over 60,000 different tree species in the world and natural forests can be made up of tens, hundreds or even thousands of different species.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of forest: tropical forests, which are confined to a broad geographical band that straddles the equator; temperate forests with highly variable seasons, which paint the northern hemisphere in rich tones of gold, ochre and red as deciduous species shed their leaves in autumn; and boreal forests, also known as taiga, which grow in northerly latitudes and are dominated by evergreen conifers that can tolerate freezing cold and a blanket of snow for months on end.