© Sarah Pietrkiewicz
Boreal and Temperate Forests
Protecting mighty forests in the northern hemisphere

Stretching from the snowy peaks of Canada to the tall pine trees of Russia, boreal and temperate forests are an important gift of nature to the world's northern hemisphere. 

Boreal forests (known in Russia as taiga) run through North America, Europe and Asia and are full of life that has adapted to survive in frigid temperatures throughout the year or migrate long distances.

They provide crucial habitats for wildlife and play an important role in tackling the climate crisis by absorbing and locking away carbon. Forests in the sub-polar regions grow on huge under-ground peat stores - their destruction can release this carbon into the atmosphere, further fuelling climate change. 

Temperature forests are found in eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western and eastern Europe and are a mix of deciduous, broadleaved and coniferous evergreen trees. They are simpler in structure than tropical forests and support a smaller number of tree species. 

Temperate forests have been decimated over the centuries, but are now expanding in many areas and actively building carbon stores. The cold winter means temperate forests don’t have the variety of animal and plant life you’ll find in subtropical or tropical regions, and many of the animals hibernate or migrate during the winter.

Boreal and Temperate Forests Facts

Boreal Forests:

  • The boreal forest area landscape spans eight countries: Canada, China, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. 
  • The boreal biome accounts for approximately one-third of the terrestrial carbon sink. Their soil stores 60% of the world’s soil organic carbon.
  • Boreal forests are considered as the world’s second-largest forest biome with an area of 12.2 million km2 (27% of world forest in 2020).
  • Boreal forests provide 37% of the wood consumed globally.
  • Russian boreal forests represent the largest forested region on Earth, larger than the Amazon.

Temperate forest facts:

  • About 16% of the world’s forests are classified as temperate. These types of forests are found between the tropical and boreal regions.
  • Unlike many tropical forests in the southern hemisphere, temperate forests in much of the northern hemisphere are expanding. 
  • Temperate forests are on the frontlines of climate change. Large-scale alterations of forest canopies have been reported across Europe, and further changes are expected due to climate events such as drought and storms. 

Stay updated - subscribe to our newsletter