Forests make up 30% of Earth’s total land surface. While many people imagine forests as endless clusters of evergreen trees, this type of ecosystem is actually incredibly diverse — some different types include boreal forests, temperate deciduous forests, temperate coniferous forests, tropical forests, and subtropical forests (including subcategories of these as well).
Not to mention the types of forests that aren’t considered true forests, such as those found in swamps, underwater, and even those made of stone.
Check out these 15 forests from around the planet and see for yourself how diverse they can be.
The bamboo forest of Sagano can be found in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Japan. The paths that cut through the groves are ideal for walking or biking. The bamboo stalks sway in unison when there’s a light wind.
A grouping of 20 to 25 baobab trees along a dirt road in the Menabe region of western Madagascar makes up the Avenue of the Baobabs. The trees measure about 30 meters in height and have become something of a tourist attraction in the region.
Photo: Frank Vassen
California redwoods, also known as coast redwoods, cover 240 acres of the Muir Woods National Monument, a short drive from San Francisco. The area is frequently enveloped by a coastal marine inversion layer carrying thick fog.
Photo: Justin Brown
Also known as the Amazon jungle, the Amazon Rainforest covers the majority of South America’s Amazon Basin (spanning eight countries and 2,670,000 square miles). The Amazon makes up half of the planet’s total rainforest, making it the largest in the world.
Photo: Sara y Tzunki
Found in Illinois, Heron Pond is home to a cypress swamp consisting mainly of cypress trees along with a smaller number of ferns, willows, and other plant life. The trees grow in holes within the limestone bedrock, which breaks down over time and allows the trees to set roots ever deeper.
Photo: Thomas Gehrke
Forests of Dracaena cinnabari (also known as the dragon blood tree), indigenous to Socotra Island in Yemen, are found all over the four-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The tree is known as the dragon blood tree due to its red sap, which is still used as both a dye and a medicine.
Photo: Rod Waddington
The Black Forest (Schwarzwald in German) is a densely wooded area in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The Rhine Valley borders the forest to the south and west. The Black Forest is the setting of many a Brothers Grimm fairytale.
Found in California’s Inyo County, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is typically open from mid-May through the end of November. The forest is home to Methuselah, a 4,845-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine, one of the oldest living things on Earth.
Photo: Rick Goldwaser
Banff National Park is home to endless coniferous forests, as well as brilliant glacial-fed lakes and meadows. The forests of Banff are generally part of the sub-alpine region, which makes up 53% of the national park.
Photo: James Wheeler
Not your typical forest, the Stone Forest in China’s Yunnan Province is made of towering limestone structures that resemble petrified trees. The formations are assumed to be over 270 million years old.
Photo: Aftab Uzzaman
Found in nature and aquariums alike (this photo was taken in the Monterey Bay Aquarium), kelp forests are underwater high-density areas of kelp. The ecosystem of a kelp forest is complex, with different types of kelp living in each canopy. Many people theorize that the Americas were originally colonized by fishing communities who followed the movement of Pacific kelp forests.
Photo: Ryan Carver
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, founded in 1972, is a nature reserve in Costa Rica’s provinces of Puntarenas and Alajuela. Over 70,000 people a year visit the reserve, which contains some of the most diverse flora and fauna on the planet.
Photo: Sergio Quesada
Seen from the Caribbean to the Philippines, mangrove forests consist of gatherings of trees that grow in tropical and subtropical saline coastal habitats. Other accessible examples exist in the Florida Keys and much of Sumatra and Borneo.
Photo: Woody Hibbard
Also known as the Trembling Giant, Pando is actually a single Populus tremuloides or aspen that's connected underground by a complex root system. It's believed that the roots themselves are over 80,000 years old. Located near Fish Lake in Utah, Pando is considered the heaviest known organism in the world, as well as one of the largest and oldest.
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park sits within the Wulingyuan Scenic Area of Hunan. The park is best known for the quartz-sandstone pillars that tower above the surroundings, a result of centuries of erosion. It was declared a Unesco Global Geopark in 2004.
Photo: Viktor Lovgren
What did you think of this story?