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Starts With A Bang

Weekend Diversion: The Top 10 Forests in the World

Of all the wooded places I’ve never been, here are the 10 I’d most like to see!

“But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.” –Alan Watts

As we move farther away from the winter solstice and towards the spring equinox, my part of the world is seeing not only more daylight, but also more sunshine, warmer temperatures, and — at least today — some good days to be out in nature. This weekend, have a listen to Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ronu Majumdar, Sabir Khan & Tarun Bhattacharya‘s interpretive nature song, Flame of the Forest.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to share with you my list of the top 10 forests in the world that I’d most like to see! (So, yes, this automatically excludes some of the magnificent forests I’ve already had the pleasure to be in, including Aokigahara Forest in the environs of Mt. Fuji, atop!) In no particular order, here they are (and as always, click on them for the best-resolution image available):

Image credit: High Definition Wallpapers, via http://www.artswallpapers.com/.

10.) The Amazon Rainforest, South America. The largest rainforest in the world, it dwarfs all other rainforests on Earth combined. There’s arguably a greater diversity of flora and fauna found here than anywhere else on the planet. There’s no way a simple picture can do this — or any of the forests listed here — true justice, but I’d love to experience it for myself.

Image credit: Mariusz Jurgielewicz.

9.) Sequoia National Forest, California. An entire forest named for the largest trees in the world, the sequoias. Above is an image of General Sherman, the tree with the single largest mass-and-volume in the world. It’s older than the Roman Empire, nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty, wider than all trees except the baobabs, and in 2006 lost a branch that was bigger than most full-grown trees! If you took just the trunk and dehydrated all the water out of it, it would still weigh over 1,000 tonnes. And yes, there’s a whole forest full of trees just like it.

Image credit: © William Manning / Corbis.

8.) Redwood National Park, California. Home to the tallest trees in the world, I’ve actually seen a number of Redwoods along the California and Oregon coasts, although I’ve never been to the eponymous national (or state) park. A forest of trees stretching upwards so high that you can’t even see the treetops on a foggy day, this is too close for me to not see it, and soon. I really have no excuse.

On the other hand, there are plenty of forests I want to see that would require a little more legwork.

Image credit: imgur user StaphInfection, via http://imgur.com/gallery/QMJgq.

7.) The Crooked Forest, Poland. The youngest forest on my list, the Crooked Forest was planted around 1930, and consists of around 400 oddly-curved trees like this. Appearing to be normal pine trees in an otherwise unremarkable forest, it’s thought that they’re curved like this due to some hitherto undiscovered human intervention. So unique, it reminds me of Pearl Fryer, and I’d love to get the chance to experience it for myself.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons user Prasanaik.

6.) Jog Falls environs, India. While most of India’s primeval forest has changed dramatically thanks to human intervention, North Sentinel Island is not exactly on the list of places where I think I’d be welcomed. Jog Falls, on the other hand, is the largest waterfall in India, shown here during monsoon season, at its most spectacular! The entire western region of India is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the world, and I’d love the chance to walk through the forested areas here.

Image credit: flickr user Fordan, a.k.a. Bob Snyder.

5.) Daintree Rainforest, Australia. The oldest surviving rainforest in the world, Daintree is among the most biodiverse regions in the world as far as plants, marsupials, insects and spiders are concerned. How could you not be intrigued?

Image credit: Andy Linden (flickr user andylinden).

4.) Black Forest, Germany. Called “black” by the Romans because of how the dense conifers so successfully block out the Sun, even during the daytime, the black forest is dotted with lakes that formed from the melt at the end of the last ice age. The black forest contains eight of the highest mountains in Europe mountain peaks over 1,000 meters in elevation (thank you, Lassi @2), and is home to unique animals found nowhere else, such as the giant earthworm. Pretty cool!

Image credit: Copyright 2002 — 2011 BrotherSoft.com.

3.) Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China. I mean, just look at that picture, will you? Both an UNESCO world heritage site and a world biosphere reserve, this valley on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau is full of colorful lakes, multiple waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, and of course, beautiful primeval forests. 30 years ago, only 5,000 tourists visited this region each year; now that number is well in excess of a million. And even though I know that increased human traffic means that keeping the site pristine takes more and more effort, I still want to see this for myself.

Image credit: Martin Hertel, National Geographic’s “Your Shot”.

2.) Beech Forest, Germany. Not so much a single “place” as it is a collection of forest sitesacross many different nations, this is another UNESCO world heritage site. Dominated by Beech trees, they form an impressive canopy even in the winter, as this photo by Martin Hertel elegantly shows.

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And finally…

Image credit, Yuya Horikawa of http://500px.com/photo/9349539.

1.) Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan. I’ve never seen a forest like this before, and I didn’t learn about it until years after I was in Japan. How was I to know that I was only a few miles (kilometers) away from this wonder when I spent time in Kyoto? The entire district of Arashiyama looks beautiful, but the great bamboo forest is surely the great highlight!

And that’s a wonderful collection of my top 10 forests that I’d love to visit, someday. Hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to comment on these choices, as well as to share any others that have connected with you!


An earlier version of this post originally appeared on the old Starts With A Bang blog at Scienceblogs.


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