The boreal forest is the world's largest land-based biome. The forest spreads over several continents and covers many countries. The boreal plays a significant role in the planet's biodiversity and even its climate. Some of the important facts about the Boreal forest are as follows:
- Origin: The boreal forest is named after Boreas, the Greek god of the North wind.
- Boreal and Taiga: The biome is known as boreal in Canada, but is also known as taiga. Taiga is most commonly used to refer to the biome's more barren northern locations while boreal is used for the more temperate, southern area.
- Spread: The boreal covers most of inland Canada and Alaska, most of Sweden, Finland and inland Norway, much of Russia, and the northern parts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Japan. The boreal represents 29% of the world's forest cover.
- Types: There are two major types of boreal forest- the closed canopy forest in the South which has the longest, warmest growing season of the biome, and the high boreal forest with farther-spaced trees and lichen groundcover.
- Fauna: The forest is typically low on biodiversity. The boreal supports a range of animals. Canada's boreal forest is home to 85 species of mammals, 130 species of fish, some 32,000 species of insects, and 300 species of birds. Boreal forest is home to some of the iconic animals including Siberian Tiger, wolves, bears, Arctic fox and muskox.
- Flora: The trees of the boreal forest tend to have shallow roots, due to the thin soils. Wildfires are an important part of the reproductive cycle for some species. Depending on the area, large fires occur in a cycle repeating anywhere from 70 to 200 years. The soils of the boreal forest are often acidic, due to falling pine needles, and low on nutrients since the cold temperatures do not allow much foliage to rot and turn into dirt.
- Climate: The climate of boreal is Cold. The lowest recorded temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were recorded in the boreal (or taiga) of northeastern Russia. However, the zone of latitude occupied by the boreal forest has seen some of the most dramatic temperature increases, especially in winter and especially during the last quarter of the 20th century. The warming trend threatens to transform the boreal forest area into grassland, parkland or temperate forest, introducing a significant shift in species of both plants and animals. There is little rainfall in the boreal biome. Precipitation comes in the form of fog and snow, with a little rain during the summer months.
- Carbon Sequestration: The boreal forest stores enormous quantities of carbon. It possibly stores more than the temperate and tropical forests combined. Much of Carbon is stored in peatland. Only 12% of boreal forest is protected around the globe and over 30% has already been designated for logging, energy and other development.