Forests cover approximately 31% of the global land area but are responsible for supporting the vast majority of Earth’s plant and animal species, many of which are considered threatened or endangered.
Half of the world’s forests are found in just five countries and many are fragmented and seriously endangered due to deforestation and forest degradation.
There are many reasons to protect our forests. Not only do we depend on them to survive as a source of oxygen, but they also provide critical habitats for animals, livelihoods for humans, and help mitigate climate change.
If nothing else, the forests are an essential reminder of just how beautiful the natural world can be, from the majesty of the Amazon to your local state park. These are the 10 largest forests in the world.
These are the 10 largest forests in the world.
With an area of about 3,000 square kilometres, the Amazon rainforest is the largest and most biodiverse forest in the world. It spans Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and the Republic of Suriname, and is home to one in ten known species of fauna and flora (new species are discovered almost daily).
Unfortunately, the Amazon is facing unprecedented environmental challenges due to deforestation and fires; as recently as 2019, around 28,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest section of Brazil burned.
The Congo Jungle
Just a part of the area that makes up the Congo Basin in Africa, the Congo Rainforest covers more than 1,400,000 square miles in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.
Often called the “second lung” of the Earth, after the Amazon, the Congo is protected by five different national parks that have also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
New Guinea Rainforest
New Guinea’s rainforest makes up more than half of the country’s land mass, incorporating vast mountainous landscapes stretching over 303,500 square kilometres.
Being situated on an island, the New Guinea rainforest is home to groups of indigenous peoples and indigenous animal species that have had little or no contact with the outside world.
Valdivian temperate forest
At least 90% of the plant species that live in the temperate rain forest of Valdivia, in the southern cone of South America, are endemic, that is, native or restricted to that exact area.
Spanning 95,800 square miles, this forest also has one of the highest incidences of recorded animal pollination of any temperate biome.
Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest, located in southeastern Alaska and covering some 26,560 square kilometres, is the largest national forest in the United States and the largest temperate tropical forest in North America.
This means that it is home to almost a third of the Earth’s former temperate moist forests, which are especially important due to their high levels of stored carbon and biomass.
Bosawas Biosphere Reserve
Designated by UNESCO in 1997, the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in Nicaragua covers an area of almost 8,500 square kilometres. It is estimated that around 13% of the world’s known species live within the reserve, which is technically made up of six different types of forest.
The reserve is also home to 20 distinct communities of indigenous peoples who contribute to the protection of natural resources and run their entire economy off the land.
Located in the Yunnan Province of southern China, the Xishuangbanna Rain Forest has been an official UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1990.
Covering some 936 square kilometers, the forest is home to a large number of rare and endangered species, including 90% of China’s entire wild Asian elephant population.
Daintree Rain Forest
One of the oldest forests in the world, Australia’s Daintree Rainforest is believed to be 180 million years old (even older than the Amazon Rainforest).
At 463 square miles in size, Daintree contains more than half of the country’s species of bats and butterflies, helping to make it an important source of pollination for the rest of the region.
Kinabalu National Park
Located on the island of Borneo, Kinabalu National Park is made up of 291 square kilometers of tropical rainforest.
Its unique elevation range, from nearly 500 feet to more than 13,000 feet, helps support a wide range of different habitats for a number of species, including 90 types of mammals, 326 types of birds, and 1,000 species of orchids.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
The 64 square kilometer Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most popular bird watching destinations in the world.
A rare type of “cloud” forest found in a tropical mountainous setting where atmospheric conditions allow for nearly constant cloud cover, Monteverde is also home to jaguars, pumas, several species of monkeys, and colourful red-eyed tree frogs.
MORE IN DATA JOURNALISM
- Which state in India has the cleanest drinking water?
- 10 states with highest number of water bodies in India
- Top 10 Indian states with the high Muslim population in 2023