About Forest for Kids: Definition & Facts

A forest is a large, natural and wild, green space that is covered with thick vegetation and has various kinds of animals living in it. Forests are an essential part of our ecosystem which has to be protected and preserved. It’s the habitat for a huge variety of plants, animals and microorganisms. There are broadly 3 types of forests — temperate, tropical and boreal which cover about ⅓ of the Earth’s surface.

What is the Importance of Forests

It’s very important to talk to kids about the importance and benefits of forests and trees and the effects of climate change and deforestation. Future generations will have to fight against global warming and climate change, so it’s essential for children to learn about the benefits of forests and the important role they play in the environment.

● Absorb Greenhouse Gases

The ecosystem is maintained by forests as they absorb greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide which are believed to be the reason for climate change. Tropical forests alone harbour about a quarter of a trillion tons of carbon in the biomass within which would be disastrous if released into the atmosphere.

● Provide a Natural Habitat

Forests provide an environment that enables the survival of millions of animals of different species including crocodiles, snakes, turtles, birds, insects, butterflies, monkeys and other wild animals. The forest floor is a host for various microorganisms which are required to convert dead matter into nutrients. They also provide a home to various tribes and indigenous people who depend on forests for their livelihood.

● Watershed Regions

Rivers, lakes, streams, and water tables of the forests are major sources of water and the green cover of the trees preserves the water by preventing the effects of sun radiation. The Amazon forest has the world’s largest watershed and river system.

● Support Biodiversity

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s species including plants and animals are found in forests. They provide a habitat and support biodiversity.

● Purify the Air

Plants generate food and energy through photosynthesis. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. Forests are like massive lungs that remove carbon dioxide and maintain balanced levels of oxygen that we breathe. Studies show that an acre of mature trees can generate oxygen for 18 people. Trees also absorb pollutant gases like ammonia and sulphur dioxide and trap them in the leaves and bark.

● Regulate Global Temperatures

The green cover of forests absorb the Sun’s radiation and reduce the temperature through evapotranspiration and breeze. They also promote rainfall which helps to maintain the water table and a cool climate.

● Enrich the Soil

Dead leaves and broken branches are gradually converted to soil through decomposition which enriches the soil with nutrients and can be utilised by the plants again. The strong roots of trees hold the soil in cases of floods and prevent soil erosion. This is especially important in hilly areas as they slow the runoff and keep the soil intact preserving the fertility of the soil.

● Regulate the Water Cycle

Forests regulate all the phases of the water cycle – evaporation, condensation and precipitation. Rainwater flows down the trunks of trees into the soil which prevents pollutants from being carried into the ocean and also replenishes the water table.

● Medical Benefits

Forests are rich in plants and herbs which have medicinal value. The extracts from the seeds, leaves and bark of these plants trees treat several diseases and unlike chemicals are non-toxic. Some of these medicinal plants are quinine, rosy periwinkle, wild yams, curare, extracts of willow trees, samambaia and calabar bean.

● Economic Benefits

Forests offer huge economic benefits to human beings. The leaves, branches, stems, bark, fruits, seeds and roots of a tree are useful in one way or the other. Forests are a rich source of raw materials, wood, timber, vegetables and fruits which have considerable economic value. Whether it’s for construction, making furniture, production of paper, rubber or green waste, we are dependent on forests.

Different Types of Forests

The types of forests are determined by the amount of solar radiation and precipitation they receive, both of which are influenced by their latitude. The climate determines the organisms that can survive them. Based on latitude, there are 3 types of forests: boreal, temperate and tropical.

Boreal Forests

Boreal or taiga forests are found between 50 and 60 degrees latitude in Asia, Europe and North America. Due to the cold climate, There is much lower species diversity as compared to tropical and temperate forests because of the extremely cold climate. The flora and fauna of boreal forests are especially adapted to cope with cold temperatures and short growing seasons of about 130 days. Boreal forests have important stores of carbon because of their vastness and remoteness. Conifers, some deciduous trees, blueberry and cranberry bushes grow here. Boreal caribou and many visiting bird species can be found here. As almost 80 percent of boreal forests are on top of permafrost, climate change has become a major threat to them.

Temperate Forests

Temperate forests are found at mid-latitudes and account for 16 percent of the Earth’s total forest cover. Deciduous trees like maples, hickories and oaks and animals like bears, squirrels, bobcats and deer are found here. The soil is generally fertile with a top cover of thick organic matter from which plants can extract nutrients to grow. Many endangered species like the Red Wolf and Northern Spotted Owl are also found here.

Tropical Forests

Located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, tropical forests are the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. They cover only 1/10th of the Earth, yet are home to half of all species. The biodiversity of tropical forests makes them very efficient at processing nutrients. Many tropical forest species like the African forest elephant are facing extinction. At least 13 kinds of primates live almost exclusively in the tropical forests. Human activities are a threat to the future of tropical forests.

Interesting Facts About Forests

  1. Forests are more than just trees, they also have rivers, big rocks, bright wildflowers and a lot more.
  2. There are 3 main types of forests which are very diverse from one another.
  3. Forests are home to over 80 percent of biodiversity with a variety of plants, animals and insects living in them.
  4. Today, forests cover only 31 percent of the land on Earth while earlier they covered about 50 percent of the Earth’s land area.
  5. Only about ⅕th of Earth’s forests still remain because of the population growth and industrial revolution causing deforestation.
  6. At least 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their resources.
  7. More than 120 natural remedies can be found in the rainforests alone.
  8. Forests make Earth a healthier place to live in with clean water and air. They produce powerful and positive chemicals and ions to release stress and anxiety, absorb carbon, release oxygen and much more.
  9. Every year, Earth loses about 18.7 million acres of forest.
  10. Deforestation causes release of carbon dioxide causing global temperatures to rise and brings about climate change.
  11. The 4 main causes of deforestation are agriculture, mining, logging and infrastructure.

The benefits of forests cannot be denied and our whole existence is dependent on them. Humans have caused a lot of damage because of their greed which is causing global warming and climate change. The future generation will be inheriting a damaged Earth and it’s important that they understand the importance of forests. For more information on forests, you can follow the Kangaroo Kids website.