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A variety of global environments sustain a high-density of plants and trees, offering habitats for vast biodiversity. The Earth is vitally dependent on the forest processes and contributions for biogeochemical cycles and productivity of energy.


Canopies are the ceilings of a forest, comprised of the branches and leaves of the tallest trees. Canopies absorb and reflect much of the sunlight, shading the forest floor below.

  • Canopies

Coniferous Forests

Regions dominated by cone bearing gymnosperm trees or conifers, such as pine, spruce, fir, and hemlocks. These forests appear in large bands in the mid-northern section of North America and Eurasia and are being logged at an alarming rate.

  • Coniferous Forests

Deciduous Forests

These trees populate the mid-latitudes where sufficient moisture supports growth of larger trees. When ready, these trees shed their unnecessary flowers, leaves, pods, and branches which decompose and provide their nutrient rich soil.

  • Deciduous Forests

Dry Forests

Forests growing on soil that is sandy or otherwise very dry at times, tend to have open canopies and short trees.

  • Dry Forests


Connecting land and sea over 40 million acres globally, mangroves play an important role by preventing erosion, by filtering out pollution, and by providing shelter, food, and nursery sites for fish, shellfish, herons, monkeys, and others.

  • Mangroves

Rain Forests

Heavy annual rainfall is a defining trait of rainforests, whether the forests are in the tropics or in temperate zones; our images show a variety of rainforests from around the world.

Riparian Forests

Riparian forests occur on the banks of rivers, streams, and lakes. These moist habitats receive an abundance of light on the water's edge, and may experience periodic flooding.


The edge of a forest, or treeline, is where a forest meets a different type of habitat, such as a field, cropland, or prairie.

Tropical Forests

For forests within the tropics, the length of day is consistent throughout the year, but temperature can vary, depending on elevation. Rainfall can also vary: heavy for tropical rainforests, or sparse, as in dry tropical forests.

Understories & Forest Floor

The forest layer beneath the canopy is the "understory," where smaller trees are found. The layer beneath it is the forest "floor," home to low-lying vegetation, decaying logs and leaves.