Forests, like many things on this earth, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are vast and spread as far as the eye can see, while others are just a small conglomeration of what’s left of an endangered species of tree. Approximately 9.4 percent of the Earth is covered in forests, though they once stretched across much more of the planet’s surface.
Protecting these incredible landscapes means preserving their unique flora and fauna for future generations to enjoy. From the towering giant sequoias in the Sequoia National Forest, to the dragon’s blood trees of Socotra, Yemen, each of these forests will leave you awestruck and amazed at just how beautiful this planet can be.
1. Avenue of the Baobabs; 2. Tongass National Forest; 3. Socotra Island; 4. The Great Banyan; 5. Deadvlei Forest; 6. Sequoia National Forest; 7. Sunken Forest of Lake Kaindy
Lauren Leising is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.
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1. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar
The Avenue of the Baobabs line the dirt road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in western Madagascar and is on its way to becoming Madagascar's first national monument. About a dozen of the Baobab trees line the road, each reaching to about 30 meters, or 98 feet, in height. These goliaths are as old as 800 years and are the lonely few trees remaining in an area that was once a dense tropical forest. Growing civilizations cleared many of the trees for agriculture but thankfully preserved some Baobabs out of respect.
Rod Waddington, CC-BY
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2. Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest, which spans 17 million acres in Southeast Alaska, is the largest national forest in the United States. As the Earth's largest remaining temperate rainforest, the Tongass was once a hub for the logging industry but is now carefully protected to avoid the destruction of the unique ecosystem. This forest is home to 75,000 people and three Alaska Native nations: the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. Because of its size, Tongass also houses many unique plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in North America.
Photo by Joseph, CC-BY
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3. Dragons Blood Trees on Socotra Atoll, Yemen
Socotra island, located in the Arabian Sea and part of Yemen, is home to nearly 700 endemic species of flora and fauna, meaning that the plants and animals found there cannot be found anywhere else in the world. One such species is the dragon's blood tree, named for its red sap and recognized by its unique, umbrella-shaped canopy. The red sap has been used as a dye for centuries by civilizations including Greece and Rome and it continues to be used to this day.
Photo by Rod Waddington, CC-BY
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4. The Great Banyan Tree, India
The Great Banyan is really only one single tree rather than a forest, but after the main tree was removed in 1925, it left a clonal colony that is wider than 330 meters (1,080 feet). It is estimated to be around 200 to 250 years old and is located in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah, near Kolkata, India. The tree's 3,300 aerial roots make the tree look more like a forest than a single tree.
Photo by Roger W, CC-BY
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5. Deadvlei Forest, Namibia
Deadvlei is located near the famous salt pan of Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft Park of Namibia and looks like a landscape straight out of a strange dream. The clay pan was formed by flooding by the Tsauchab river, which was later blocked from the area after a climate change some 900 years ago that allowed sand dunes to diver the river's path. The ancient trees that were left formed a barren forest that is frozen in time.
Photo by Ángel Hernansáez, CC-BY
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6. The Sequoia National Forest, United States of America
Sequoia National Forest, located in southern California, is known around the world for its giant sequoia trees that tower over everything around them. There are 34 giant sequoia groves which are all part of the old growth section of the forest. Many of these trees are several thousand years old, making them among the oldest living things on Earth. The forest covers 1,193,315 acres and boasts not just the world-famous giant trees, but also The Needles, which are granite spires that line a ridge above the Kern River.
Photo by Justin Vidamo, CC-BY
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7. The Sunken Forest of Lake Kaindy, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan's Lake Kaindy is located 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) above sea level, and reaches depths of about 30 meters (100 feet). The lake is dotted with dried-out Schrenk's spruce trees that rise from the bottom of the lake and create a spectacular view. The lake is relatively young, having been formed in the last century by a limestone landslide, and the trees have not yet decayed in the cold water.
Photo by Jonas Satkauskas via Wikimedia Commons