Forests: Top 10 Questions

December 2016

Thanks to Thanks to Tara Hudiburg and Daniel Johnson, assistant professors from the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, for their answers. for the answers.

1: ow many types of forests exist?

There are three major types of forests in the world. We call them "biomes." They are the tropical, temperate, and the boreal forest biomes. The temperate forest biome is what we have in the United States. It is at 45 to 60 degrees latitude. Above 60 degrees latitude, we will find boreal forests. These lie in most of Canada and Russia. Finally, tropical forests are found near the equator. Within these forest types, we have sublevels of forests. For example, here in the United States, within the temperate forests, you will find deciduous forests mostly on the East Coast. Then, we have coniferous forests, like what we see here in Idaho, mostly on the West Coast. There are quite a few different types of forests. (From Marion at Mary McPherson Elementary School in Meridian)

2: How many species of animals in the rainforest are endangered?

Globally speaking, there are about 15,000 animal species that are endangered. In the rainforests alone, the number of endangered species is about half of that. (From Tyler at Galileo Stem Academy in Eagle)

3: How many layers are in the rainforest?

The rainforests have an additional layer that we do not have in our forests in Idaho. It is called the "emergent layer." All forests have the over story canopy layer, the understory, and the forest floor. (From Mason at Trail Wind Elementary School in Boise)

4: How do forests clean water?

Forests clean water in several different ways. When it rains, that rain actually filters through the canopy, which is where the leaves are. That's one level of filtering. The water continues on, either through the canopy or along the trunks of trees, and goes into the soil. It permeates the soil, which acts as an additional filter. Then, the water goes from there into ground water or into streams. So, there is one set of filters in the canopy, and another set of filters in the soil that actually clean the water. (From Sophia at Galileo Stem Academy in Eagle)

5: How many national forests are there in Idaho?

There are ten national forests in Idaho. Many of them are in Northern Idaho in the panhandle. Two of them are the Clearwater National Forest and the Saint Joe National Forest. Due to the wildfires we have had, some of Idaho's national forests have received national attention, so they may sound familiar. (From Wren at Trail Wind Elementary School in Boise)

6: Are forest fires good for the forest?

It depends. A very hot, very severe forest fire can be bad for forests because it can kill all of the living material in the soil, as well as all of the trees. A mild fire with a less severe burn can be healthy for the forests because it can remove fuels that might otherwise lead to a more severe forest fire. (From Andy at Trail Wind Elementary School in Boise)

7: What is the tree line?

The tree line is the point at which trees stop growing, or there are no more tree-like growths. There are altitudinal and latitudinal tree lines. The first occurs when you move higher on a mountain. You can see where the trees stop growing. The second occurs as you move higher in latitude, or further north, you will also be able to see where the trees stop growing. (From Lexi at Galileo Stem Academy in Eagle)

8: Why do people cut down trees from the forest?

People cut down trees mostly for wood. We depend on wood products for our houses, paper, and many other things including glues and resins. Sometimes people cut down trees for land conversion in order to grow crops. (From Varin at Trail Wind Elementary School in Boise)

9: What is the biggest forest?

When we talk about forests, we talk about forest types or biomes. The boreal biome, also known as the taiga forest, is the largest forest in terms of forest type. It is found in the northern latitudes in Russia and Canada. (From Noah at Mary McPherson Elementary School in Meridian)

10: What can kill a forest?

There are a lot of things that can kill a forest. An extreme fire, drought, insect outbreak, heat wave, and even people can kill a forest. (From Hunter at Galileo Stem Academy in Eagle)

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