Forest biological diversity refers to all life forms found within forested areas and the ecological roles they perform. The Top 10 largest forests in the world It encompasses not just trees, but the multitude of plants, animals and microorganisms that inhabit forest areas – and their associated genetic diversity.
Forest biological diversity can be considered at different levels, including ecosystem, landscape, species, population and genetic.
Complex interactions can occur within and between these levels. This complexity allows organisms to adapt to continually changing environmental conditions and to maintain ecosystem functions.
Status and trends in forest area
Forest ecosystems are a critical component of the world’s biodiversity as many forests are more biodiverse than other ecosystems. The Top 10 largest forests in the world
Forests cover 31 percent of the global land area. Approximately half the forest area is relatively intact, and more than one-third is primary forest (i.e. naturally regenerated forests of native species, where there are no visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed).
The total forest area is 4.06 billion hectares, or approximately 5 000m2 (or 50 x 100m) per person, but forests are not equally distributed around the globe.
More than half of the world’s forests are found in only five countries (the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China) and two-thirds (66 percent) of forests are found in ten countries.
Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity.
Since 1990, it is estimated that 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses, although the rate of deforestation has decreased over the past three decades.
Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990.
Agricultural expansion continues to be the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation and the associated loss of forest biodiversity. Large-scale commercial agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and cultivation of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40 percent of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010, and local subsistence agriculture for another 33 percent. The Top 10 largest forests in the world
You must have read about the significance of forests in the working of the natural world order. Every species on earth is dependent on forests in some way or the other. For the wild animals, forests act as a shelter and for human beings, they are a source of livelihood or a means through which some needs of ours are fulfilled. What adds to it is the fact that forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity including flora and fauna. Also, the forests cover over 31% of the world’s land area. Through this blog, we bring you a comprehensive list of the largest forests in the world that you must know about!
Top 10 largest forests in the world
Amazon Rainforest, South America – Area : 5.5 million km²
The Amazon rainforest, alternatively, the Amazon jungle or Amazonia, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America. This basin encompasses 7,000,000 km2 (2,700,000 sq mi), of which 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) are covered by the rainforest. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations and 3,344 formally acknowledged indigenous territories.
The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela. Four nations have “Amazonas” as the name of one of their first-level administrative regions, and France uses the name “Guiana Amazonian Park” for its rainforest protected area. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species.
More than 30 million people of 350 different ethnic groups live in the Amazon, which are subdivided into 9 different national political systems and 3,344 formally acknowledged indigenous territories. Indigenous peoples make up 9% of the total population with 60 of the groups remaining largely isolated
Congo Rainforest, Africa – Area : 3 million km²
The Congolian rainforests are a broad belt of lowland tropical moist broadleaf forests which extend across the basin of the Congo River and its tributaries in Central Africa. The Congolian rainforest is the world’s second-largest tropical forest, spans six countries, and contains a quarter of the world’s remaining tropical forest. With annual forest loss of 0.3% during the 2000s, the region has the lowest deforestation rate of any major tropical forest zone.
To the north, south, and southwest, the forests transition to drier forest-savanna mosaic, a mosaic of drier forests, savannas, and grasslands. To the west, the Congolian forests transition to the coastal Lower Guinean forests, which extend from southwestern Cameroon into southern Nigeria and Benin; these forests zones share many similarities and are sometimes known as the Lower Guinean-Congolian forests. To the east, the lowland Congolian forests transition to the highland Albertine Rift montane forests, which cover the mountains lining the Albertine Rift, a branch of the East African Rift system. The Congolian Forests are a global 200 ecoregion.
The World Wide Fund for Nature divides the Congolian forests into several distinct ecoregions:
- Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Northwestern Congolian lowland forests (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Republic of Congo)
- Western Congolian swamp forests (Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Eastern Congolian swamp forests (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Central Congolian lowland forests (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Northeastern Congolian lowland forests (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic)
Valdivian Temperate Rainforest, South America – Area: 248,100 km²
The Valdivian temperate forests 248,100 km2 (95,800 sq mi) (NT0404) is an ecoregion on the west coast of southern South America, in Chile and extending into Argentina. It is part of the Neotropical realm. The forests are named after the city of Valdivia. The Valdivian temperate rainforests are characterized by their dense understories of bamboos, ferns, and for being mostly dominated by evergreen angiosperm trees with some deciduous specimens, though conifer trees are also common. Chile and Argentina
The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is the largest U.S. National Forest at 16.7 million acres (26,100 sq mi; 6,800,000 ha; 68,000 km2). Most of its area is temperate rain forest and is remote enough to be home to many species of endangered and rare flora and fauna. The Tongass, which is managed by the United States Forest Service, encompasses islands of the Alexander Archipelago, fjords and glaciers, and peaks of the Coast Mountains. An international border with Canada (British Columbia) runs along the crest of the Boundary Ranges of the Coast Mountains. The forest is administered from Forest Service offices in Ketchikan. There are local ranger district offices located in Craig, Hoonah, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Thorne Bay, Wrangell, and Yakutat.
Rainforest of Xishuangbanna – Area: 19,223 km²
The Rainforest of Xishuangbanna in the Yunnan Province of China is one of the largest forests in Asia at 19,223 km2 (7,422 sq mi). In recent years the region has been opened up to use in a large scale and the primary forests, especially rainforests, have been severely destroyed.
Xishuangbanna is included in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspots and contains over 5,000 species of vascular plants, comprising 16% of China’s total plant diversity.This rainforest entails also a very diverse fauna of birds, mammals, and reptiles, and amphibians, which represent 36%, 21%, and 14% of China’s biodiversity, respectively. Among others, the area gives home to Asian elephants, Indo-Chinese tigers, and green peacocks.
Sundarbans – Area: 10,000 km²
Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It spans from the Hooghly River in India’s state of West Bengal to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh’s division of Khulna. It comprises closed and open mangrove forests, land used for agricultural purpose, mudflats and barren land, and is intersected by multiple tidal streams and channels. Four protected areas in the Sundarbans are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, viz. Sundarbans National Park, Sundarbans West, Sundarbans South and Sundarbans East Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Despite these protections, the Indian Sundarbans were considered endangered in a 2020 assessment under the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems framework. The Sundarbans mangrove forest covers an area of about 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi), of which forests in Bangladesh’s Khulna Division extend over 6,017 km2 (2,323 sq mi) and in West Bengal, they extend over 4,260 km2 (1,640 sq mi) across the South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts. The most abundant tree species are sundri (Heritiera fomes) and gewa (Excoecaria agallocha). The forests provide habitat to 453 fauna wildlife, including 290 bird, 120 fish, 42 mammal, 35 reptile and eight amphibian species. Despite a total ban on all killing or capture of wildlife other than fish and some invertebrates, it appears that there is a consistent pattern of depleted biodiversity or loss of species in the 20th century, and that the ecological quality of the forest is declining
The Daintree Rainforest is a region on the northeast coast of Queensland, Australia, north of Mossman and Cairns. At around 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq mi), the Daintree is a part of the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent. The Daintree Rainforest is a part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland Rainforest, that spans across the Cairns Region. The Wet Tropics Rainforest (that the Daintree is a part of) is the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world. Along the coastline north of the Daintree River, tropical forest grows right down to the edge of the sea.
In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Daintree Rainforest was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a “natural attraction”.
Kinabalu National Park – Area: 754 km²
The Kinabalu National Park established in 1964 is Malaysia’s first world heritage site. It is home to over 4,500 species of flora and fauna, consisting of around 326 bird species and 100 mammal species. The Kinabalu National Park ranges over 4 different climate zones and therefore has a rich variety of the montane oak, rhododendron, the coniferous forests, alpine meadow plants, and the stunted bushes. The Kinabalu Giant Red Leech and Kinabalu Giant Earthworm are two of the endemic animal species of the region.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a forest reserve and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sinharaja is the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. 50% of Sri Lankan’s endemics species of animals (especially butterfly, amphibians, birds, snakes and fish species). It is home to 95% endemic birds.
The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain forests ecoregion, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala. There are about 3 elephants, and 15 or so leopards. The most common larger mammal is the endemic purple-faced langur.
Birds tend to move in mixed feeding flocks, invariably led by the fearless Sri Lanka Crested Drongo and the noisy orange-billed babbler. Of Sri Lanka’s 26 endemic birds, the 20 rainforest species all occur here, including the elusive red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal and Sri Lanka blue magpie.
Reptiles include the endemic green pit viper and hump-nosed vipers, and there are a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs. Invertebrates include the endemic common birdwing butterfly and leeches.
Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest, South America -Area: 86 km²
The Mindo forest, a cloud forest located in South America is one of the largest forests in the world. The Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest is home to over 450 different species of birds. The Yumbo-Nigua people, a tribal community finds habitat and shelter for themselves in these forests and acquire their livelihood through it. Apart from this it’s also an important ecological location and one of the key tourist attractions of South America. The Mindo forest also has over 4,500 varieties of Orchids and other plant species like cedro trees, aguacatillo, arrayan, canelo and plants like berries, hill red peppers and the ortiga which form it’s ecological cover.
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