Forest Biome: Tropical, Temperate, & Boreal Forests

Forest Biome

A forest can be defined as a large area or tract that is uncultivated land and is covered with a large number of trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses. Forests occupy around 35 % to 40 % of land on the surface of Earth.

About some 420 million years ago, ancient and primitive plants and arthropods began to occupy the land. At first, forests consisted of horsetails, ferns that were forty feet tall, and clubmosses. Gymnosperms (non-flowering) appeared in the late Paleozoic era and dominated the Earth’s Forests during the Triassic period.

About 145 to 65 million years ago in the Cretaceous period, the first Angiospermic (flowering) plants appeared on Earth. They evolved with arthropods and other life forms and were radiated swiftly.

The development of forests depends upon various factors such as climatic factors, rainfall, relative humidity, space, and temperature being the most important. Forests are principally divided into three types: Temperate, Tropical, and Boreal forests.

Tropical Forests

Tropical forests are forests that grow in tropical and subtropical areas. These consist of tropical humid or moist forests such as those found in the Amazon Basin and the Congo Basin and tropical dry forests such as those found in southern Mexico, the lowlands of Bolivia, and the western areas of Madagascar.


Temperature is on typical 20-25 ° C and differs little throughout the year. The average temperature of the three warmest and three coldest months does not differ by more than 5 degrees. Rainfall is uniformly dispersed throughout the year, with annual rains going beyond 200 cm.

Soil is nutrient-poor and acidic. Decay is fast and soils go through heavy leaching. Canopy in tropical forests is multilayered and constant, permitting little light penetration.

Temperate Forests

Temperate forests are present between Earth’s poles and the tropics. They remain in parts of North America, Asia, and Europe. These forests are cooler and drier than tropical forests. The climate in temperate forests goes through four seasons. There is a warm summertime season, a cold winter season, and two in-between seasons– spring and fall. Each of the four seasons lasts about three months.

Lots of kinds of trees grow in temperate forests. A few of them are deciduous trees. These trees have broad (flat and large) leaves. “Deciduous” implies they lose most of their leaves throughout the cold season. These trees consist of maple, oak, and beech.

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Evergreen trees grow in temperate forests too. These trees have needles instead of broad leaves. Evergreen trees consist of hemlock, spruce, and fir. They remain green all year long. They do not lose all of their needles during the winter season.

There are lots of open spaces between the tops of trees in temperate forests. Sunshine has the ability to reach the ground. Small shrubs are able to grow beneath the large trees. Animals like deer, squirrels, and little snakes reside in these forests. Many people live in the temperate forest biome.

Boreal Forests

Stands of coniferous forests or boreal forests lie in the South of the tundra and are confined to the Northern hemisphere. These forests are extended from Central Alaska throughout Canada, then sweeps along the northern side of Lake Superior. In Eurasia, this biome extends from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Siberia. The term Taiga is applied to the substantial belt of northern boreal or coniferous forests. These forests are the significant suppliers of Timber worldwide.

The lands of boreal forests have a cold continental kind of climate. Summer seasons are short with long days and winters are long with short days. Just 4 to 5 months have temperature level higher than 6 ᵒC. the temperature level below which plant life cannot grow. Rainfall is scanty. In the winter season, the ground is covered with snow, and soil freeze to a depth of 6 to 8 feet.

These forests are defined by needle-leaved, cone-bearing, evergreen plants. Millions and Millions of tightly loaded conifers cover vast locations of North America and Eurasia. The dominant flora species are Picea (spruce), Abies (fir), and Pinus (pine).


Fauna is limited. Large mammals are represented by Elks, Caribous, Reindeers, Moose, and so on. Of the big mammals, moose is most noticeable (it is the biggest of living deer, attaining a height of 1.8 meters).

Predators include bears, wolves, foxes, lynxes, etc. Arboreal animals include porcupines and squirrels. Birds are represented by grouse, crossbills, jays, and woodpeckers. Insect life is prolific in summer and consists of wood wasps, bark beetles, pine sawflies, etc. The swarm of insects attracts many birds of migratory character.

FAQs: Forest Biome: Tropical, Temperate, & Boreal Forests

1. What is a forest biome?

  • A forest biome refers to a large area covered with a significant number of trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses, typically uncultivated land.
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2. How much of the Earth’s surface do forests occupy?

  • Forests occupy approximately 35% to 40% of the Earth’s land surface.

3. How are forests categorized?

  • Forests are primarily divided into three main types: Tropical, Temperate, and Boreal forests.

4. What are tropical forests, and where are they found?

  • Tropical forests grow in tropical and subtropical regions, characterized by high temperatures, abundant rainfall, and dense vegetation. They include humid/moist forests like the Amazon and Congo Basins and tropical dry forests in areas like southern Mexico and Madagascar.

5. What are the distinguishing features of tropical forests?

  • Tropical forests typically have consistently warm temperatures (around 20-25°C) with minimal seasonal variation. They also receive high and evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year, leading to nutrient-poor acidic soil and a dense, multilayered canopy.

6. Where are temperate forests located, and what sets them apart?

  • Temperate forests are found between the poles and the tropics, primarily in parts of North America, Asia, and Europe. They experience four distinct seasons, with deciduous and evergreen trees coexisting. Temperate forests have a more open canopy, allowing for greater sunlight penetration to the forest floor.

7. What distinguishes boreal forests, and where are they located?

  • Boreal forests, also known as coniferous forests or taiga, are located in the Northern Hemisphere, primarily in regions like Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia. They have a cold continental climate with short summers and long, harsh winters. Boreal forests are dominated by needle-leaved, cone-bearing evergreen trees.

8. What are some typical flora and fauna found in boreal forests?

  • Boreal forests are characterized by coniferous trees such as spruce, fir, and pine. Common fauna include large mammals like moose, caribou, and predators like bears and wolves. Arboreal animals such as squirrels and various bird species are also present, along with a prolific insect population during the summer months.

9. How did the development of forests evolve over time?

  • Forests evolved over millions of years, starting with primitive plants and arthropods around 420 million years ago. Gymnosperms dominated during the Triassic period, followed by the appearance of angiosperms (flowering plants) in the Cretaceous period, leading to the diverse forests we see today.

10. What are some key characteristics of temperate forests?

  • Temperate forests experience four distinct seasons with deciduous trees that shed their leaves in winter and evergreen trees that retain foliage year-round. These forests have a mix of broadleaf and coniferous trees, creating diverse habitats for various plant and animal species.
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11. What factors influence the development of forests?

  • Forest development is influenced by climatic factors such as temperature, rainfall, humidity, as well as soil composition and space availability. These factors determine the type of forest biome that develops in a particular region.

12. How do tropical forests contribute to biodiversity?

  • Tropical forests are known for their high levels of biodiversity, housing a wide variety of plant and animal species. Their dense vegetation provides habitats for countless organisms, contributing significantly to global biodiversity and ecological balance.

13. What are some human impacts on forest biomes?

  • Human activities such as deforestation, logging, agricultural expansion, and urbanization have significantly impacted forest biomes worldwide. These activities contribute to habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and climate change, highlighting the importance of sustainable forest management practices.



The forest biome encompasses vast expanses of land covered with a diverse array of trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses, constituting around 35% to 40% of the Earth’s surface. Forests have evolved over millions of years, starting with ancient plants and arthropods, eventually giving rise to gymnosperms and angiosperms.

Forests are classified into three main types: Tropical, Temperate, and Boreal. Tropical forests, found in tropical and subtropical regions, exhibit high biodiversity with dense vegetation, warm temperatures, and abundant rainfall. Temperate forests, located between the poles and the tropics, experience four distinct seasons and support a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. Boreal forests, situated in the Northern Hemisphere, endure harsh climates with short summers and long winters, dominated by coniferous evergreen trees.

Each forest type has unique characteristics, from the multilayered canopy of tropical forests to the diverse foliage of temperate forests and the vast expanses of coniferous trees in boreal forests. These ecosystems support a wide variety of flora and fauna, from large mammals like moose and bears to smaller creatures like squirrels and birds.

Human activities, including deforestation and urbanization, pose significant threats to forest biomes, highlighting the importance of sustainable management practices to preserve these vital ecosystems for future generations.