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15 facts about forests that you didn’t know yet

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Forests are incredible places: Diverse, productive and fascinating beyond measure. And yet many people know so little about them!

Did you know that even today we simply cannot live without forests? That even today, researchers are still regularly discovering new and amazing facts about forests?

What are you waiting for? Let’s explore the fascinating world of forests!

What is a forest? The definition

First of all… What exactly is a forest? According to the technical definition, a forest is an area of more than 0.5 hectares with trees that are taller than 5 meters and whose crowns cover more than 10 percent of the area1.

But a forest is so much more! Breathtaking beauty, tranquillity, life, income.

What does a forest mean to you?

Yes, it really does exist! Read on, because here are 15 amazing facts about forests that you should definitely know!

1. the forest ecosystem is one of the richest in the world

What do we mean when we talk about the forest ecosystem? It is a community of animals, plants and other creatures that interact with the soil, water and air in their environment. These make the forest into a huge living organism. This ecosystem is incredibly rich and productive.

Over 80 % of all land animals, plants, fungi and bacteria in the world live in a forest. This means that forests are home to more animals and plants than any other place in the world!

Forests provide food and shelter for fabulous animals.

2. forests combat the greenhouse effect

Healthy forests can filter and store enough carbon (CO2) from the atmosphere to keep the greenhouse effect in check.

According to NASA estimates, tropical forests absorb over 1.4 billion tons of harmful CO22 every year. That is more than two thirds of the CO2 produced by all countries in the European Union!

You may also be interested in: 11 reasons why trees are so incredibly important to us.

3. forests produce cancer drugs

Did you know that more than 120 medicinal products come from forests? One of the most fantastic facts about forests is that the most effective cancer drugs are produced by trees.

Forests are also the source of the latest medical treatments for type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the most amazing facts about forests: Seventy percent of the plants that the U.S. National Cancer Institute attributes anti-cancer properties to grow in tropical rainforests3.

4. forests give us clean water

Forests are reservoirs for clean water. The forest soil cleans the rainwater, so that large reserves of drinking water can be found in many forest reserves.

These benefit not only the local settlements and wildlife. Did you know that water reservoirs in forests supply large cities such as Bogotá, Mumbai and Singapore with vital water?

5. forest therapy against stress and illness

Doctors in the UK are now increasingly prescribing ‘forest bathing’ as a treatment for a range of conditions4.

One of the greatest facts about forests: A relaxing walk in the woods, where you immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere of the forest, helps to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and improve memory and concentration!

It has been proven that forest therapy significantly accelerates recovery after an illness.

6. forests secure the livelihoods of over one billion people

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, forests provide a livelihood for 1.6 billion people worldwide. Forests not only provide protection, food and water, but also enable the cultivation of valuable crops such as tropical fruits, cocoa and coffee.

Click A Tree is very aware of these facts about forests: Syntropic agriculture is an important part of our tree planting project in Ghana.

Every tree planted with your help supports sustainable agriculture that provides livelihoods for entire communities. The project also supports a local school for entrepreneurs to give young people in Ghana a better future.

Planting trees in Ghana

7. forests need fire

Forest fires can be devastating and cause immense damage to property and the environment. But did you know that fire is also very important for the renewal of forests?

Small fires release valuable nutrients in the forest floor and open up the forest cover to sunlight, which then stimulates new growth.

One of the little-known facts about forests is that important tree species such as lodgepole pine and Banks pine need intense heat to open their cones and release their seeds.

8. let your children go to a forest kindergarten!

What is a forest kindergarten? Forest kindergartens offer children the opportunity to enjoy nature and learn in a classroom without walls.

Forest kindergartens are becoming increasingly popular as parents want to give their children the opportunity to play and learn in a natural environment.

Doesn’t that sound great? You can find more information about forest kindergartens in this video from SWR Landesschau Baden-Württemberg:

9 The coolest job, or: What do foresters do?

Foresters help to preserve the forests by maintaining the land, hiking trails, campsites and forest roads. They also help to prevent and fight forest fires.

As a forester, you can also take part in educational programs. It’s one of the coolest jobs in the world!

And also one of the healthiest. Studies show that spending time in a forest every day reduces health problems such as respiratory diseases and skin cancer.

And that’s not all: forest air contains phytoncides, which have a high antibacterial effect and strengthen the immune system5.

10. forests protect coasts

Mangrove forests protect the most beautiful coasts on earth. Their roots combat erosion by holding the soil in place and preventing it from being washed away.

They provide shelter and protection from storms for animals and humans alike and serve as a nursery for marine life.

Mangrove forests offer protection and a nursery for marine life.

You can find more amazing facts about mangrove forests in our article Mangrove forests – the all-round heroes [7 lebenswichtige Funktionen + 4 einzigartige Fakten über Mangroven].

Click A Tree is actively involved in the reforestation of mangrove forests in the Philippines and Madagascar. Would you like to read more about our “Trees for the Oceans” project and help protect these breathtaking islands?

Click here

11. forests prevent hurricanes

Forests can weaken and even prevent hurricanes.

The crowns of the trees that form a forest help to break strong winds. According to a new study, large-scale reforestation across Europe could reduce the number of extratropical cyclones by up to 80 %6.

12. forests cover 31 % of the earth’s surface

Forests cover 31% of the global land area, but are not evenly distributed across our entire planet.

This means that some countries have more forest than others: Brazil, Canada, China, the Russian Federation and the USA are home to more than half of the world’s forests.

13. forest trees communicate via the “web”

Hidden beneath the soil of forests in temperate zones is a complex network of fungi known as mycelium. This forms an underground network (a forest-wide-web!) that connects all the trees and plants with each other.

In this way, the trees can exchange nutrients and inform each other of approaching dangers.

14 Forests are millions of years old

… and are still full of life! Our list of fascinating facts about forests wouldn’t be complete without a special mention of the oldest forest in the world: the Daintree Rainforest in Australia is estimated to be 180 million years old.

Imagine that this forest ecosystem was once home to dinosaurs!

Would you like to find out more about the oldest, rarest, largest and tallest trees?

Click here for more tree facts

15 And now to finish… What is a forest diagram?

Fun fact: A forest diagram has nothing to do with forests! Although it also shows “trees”… if you squint a bit.

A forest diagram, often called a blobbogram, is a kind of graphical representation of the results of several scientific studies dealing with the same question.

Screenshot of a forest plot aka blobbogram.
Photo Credit: James Grellier , CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

And this is a forest diagram, often also called a blobbogram. This should not be confused with an illustration showing a forest!

Fantastic forests

There’s no doubt about it: forests are absolutely fantastic! Whether they are millions of years old, produce life-saving medical treatments or are simply there to comfort and protect us, we need forests in our lives.

Help us to create forests

Did you have as much fun reading these facts about forests as we did compiling them? Then share them with all your favorite people in the world!