Types of Natural Forests and Their Distribution

Types of Natural Forests and Their Distribution

The major natural forests of the world are:

  • Tropical hardwoods forests.
  • Temperate hardwood forests.
  • Coniferous forests.

Tropical hardwood forests

They are part of the rain forests which occur in equatorial lands between latitudes North and South of the equator.

Examples are the African equatorial equatorial lands from Guinea to the Democratic Republic of Congo,Amazon Basin and South East Asia lowlands.

The main hardwoods in West Africa are mahogany, iroko, sapele, ironwood, rosewood and ebony.

Meru oak and elgon olive are hardwoods found in Kenya.


  • The forests is evergreen because they have variety of species which shed their leaves at different times of the year.
  • The trees are tall with straight smooth trunks and form extensive canopies.
  • The trunks are large in size and bulky with protruding giant buttress roots, which make trees difficult to cut and hull.
  • They take a very long time to mature compared to soft softwoods.

Temperate Hardwood Forest

They mainly occur between latitudes north of the equator.

These include areas like the eastern part of North America , western, Southern, and Central Europe,northern China,Japan ,northern and Eastern Australia.

Examples of temperate hardwoods include oak,beech,poplar,elm and ash.


  • Trees are deciduous,that is they shad their leaves in autumn and remain leafless in winter.
  • Have trees with broad leaves.
  • The number of species per tree is less as compared to those in the tropics.
  • Deciduous redwoods are durable and strong like tropical hardwoods but are not so bulky and difficult to exploit as tropical hardwoods.

Coniferous Forest

These forests are found between latitudes North of the equator.
Covers most of the Scandinavian countries,the northern part of the former U.S.S.R especially Siberi and the western,central and eastern parts of North America.

The major species include pines,spruce and for.

They are mainly softwoods.


  • Trees are light in weight.
  • The trees are evergreen
  • The trees occur in pure stands.
  • The trees are tall about 30 metres in height and have straight trunks.
  • The trees have conical shape, which prevents accumulation of snow upon the branches, thus allowing snow to slide off easily to the ground.
  • The trees have thick barks,which protects the trunks and branches from frost.
  • The trees have hardneedle – shaped leaves which help reduce evapotranspiration during the summer.
  • Coniferous trees in temperate lands take a long time to mature because of the extreme cold conditions.


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