Forest is a habitat covering 1/3 of the planet’s surface, containing an estimated 3 trillion trees. This form of habitat exists in wet, dry, bitterly cold, and sweltering hot climates, and all they have distinct characteristics that enable them to thrive in their corresponding climates.
There are three major forest zones that are recognized basing on their distance from the equator: tropical, boreal (taiga), and temperate.
Tropical rain forest
Tropical rain forests are those that surround the equator in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. These forests hold the highest species diversity in the world, which boasts millions of various species. They only cover a small portion of the planet, but they cover at least one-half of species you’ll ever find in the world. The high temperatures and abundant rainfall give way to the growth of various flora. Numerous fauna species have also adapted to this habitat. Common animals include lizards, frogs, monkeys, and snakes.
Subcategories of tropical rain forests:
Seasonal – short dry season and vegetation evergreen
Dry – long dry season and leaves fall off of the trees
Montane – the most precipitation comes from fog or mist
Tropical and subtropical coniferous – dry/warm weather with conifers
Evergreen – no dry season; where rainfall is abundant
Subtropical – the north and south regions of tropical forests that adapted to resist summer dryness
This habitat can be found in North America, Europe, and northeastern Asia. In this habitat, four seasons are well-defined, including winter. Leaf-shedding trees make up most of the total tree composition within the area, with coniferous trees such as firs and pines. Typical animals found in this habitat include rabbits, foxes, bears, squirrels, and wolves.
Also known as taiga, this forest is found in Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, and Canada. These regions are evergreen and coniferous. Only two seasons exist in this habitat: short, mildly-warm summer and long, cold, and dry winter. Precipitation usually occurs as snow because it’s extremely cold. Common animals that you will find in these areas are bears, lynxes, birds, wolverines, wolves, and bats.
Forests in Africa
Humans and animals in Africa bank on forests for their natural resources. For the past thousands of years, forests have provided shelter for numerous plants and animals. Humans have also relied on forests for food, fuel, trade goods, timber, water, and building materials.
Over 1/5 of Africa’s land is covered with forests, ranging from low-lying tropical rain forests to woodlands in the highlands and savannahs. Most forests occur in a band that stretches from the continent’s southern tip to the horn of Africa and west to Senegal. Coastal areas of northeastern, eastern, and southern Africa have tropical forests. Dry forests are located in east-central Africa, gallery forests, and highland regions.
The most significant forests in Africa
The Congo Basin is Africa’s largest forest and the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world. It covers about 695,000 square miles and covers parts of Central African Republic, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo. The Congo Basin supports more than 10,000 plant species and a wide variety of animals such as forest buffalos, forest elephants, chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and thousands of other animal species. The Congo Basin is also where you can spot more than 100 various human cultures. Notable reserves include the Moukalaba-Doudou National Park in Gabon and Dzanga-Sangha Complex of Protected Areas.
Another massive forest is the Upper Guinea Forests, which are found in eastern Sierra Leone, southern Guinea, Liberia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and western Toga. The Upper Guinea Forests is home to Côte d’Ivoire’s Tai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another notable protected area is the Nyungwe Forest of Rwanda, which the Wildlife Conservation Society refers to as the “largest block of high-altitude montane forest in Central and East Africa.” The Nyungwe Forest is home to a diverse group of primates and almost 300 bird species.
Dry forests and mangrove forests are also common in Africa. The most massive mangrove forest in Africa is the Niger Delta, which sits directly on the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. The Rufiji and Zambezi river deltas are considered the most biologically diverse mangrove swamps in the entire continent, as it lies along the Indian Ocean coast.