Forests are essential for life on earth. Three hundred million people worldwide live in forests and 1.6 billion depend on them for their livelihoods. Forests also provide habitat for a vast array of plants and animals, many of which are still undiscovered. They protect our watersheds. They inspire wonder and provide places for recreation. They supply the oxygen we need to survive. They provide the timber for products we use every day.
Forests are so much more than a collection of trees. Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. These ecosystems are complex webs of organisms that include plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. Forests take many forms, depending on their latitude, local soil, rainfall and prevailing temperatures. Coniferous forests are dominated by cone-bearing trees, like pines and firs that can thrive in northern latitudes where these forests are often found. Many temperate forests house both coniferous and broad-leafed trees, such as oaks and elms, which can turn beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red in the fall.