Hello dear readers. The taiga, also known as the boreal forest or “snow forest” (as the taiga is called in the non-Arctic segment (North America)), is the world’s largest terrestrial biome, covering about 15 million square kilometers (or about 10% of the total land area of our planet).
And today we decided to introduce you to this amazing biome in more detail. In the article we have collected the most interesting facts about the taiga.
In North America, the taiga covers most of the interior of Canada, Alaska and some of the northern territories of the United States of America. In Eurasia, these forests cover most of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Estonia, part of the Scottish Highlands, part of the coastal regions of Iceland, most of the Russian Federation and regions of northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia and northern Japan.
The largest taiga in the world is located in the Russian Federation. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Ural Mountains. The area of the Russian taiga is approximately 12 million square kilometers. This biome contains more than 55% of all conifers in the world and about 11% of the world’s biomass.
This biome is found mainly in conifers. The reason for this is that the growing season is too short, because of which deciduous trees simply do not have time to grow leaves. In addition, conifers are much better suited to colder climates.
As noted earlier, this biome has a very short growing season. That is, in fact, only 50-100 days are available for trees to develop. In this region, winters can last more than 6 months, and the average temperature is usually around -20 degrees Celsius.
Summers are very short and the average summer temperature is 10 degrees Celsius (although at times it can go up to 25 degrees Celsius).
Despite the cold weather in the taiga, it is a fairly humid and tree-covered environment. The only biome that lies north of the taiga is the tundra: cold, dry and treeless. One of the main differences between taiga and tundra is permafrost. In the tundra, the soil is frozen all year round, which is why only the most frost-resistant plants grow there. In the taiga, the soil is not frozen all year round, due to which a more diverse flora is observed there.
Taiga is one of the lungs of our planet (along with tropical forests). The vast amount of forests in this biome absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and release a huge amount of oxygen (O2).
Scientists believe that this biome appeared at the end of the Pleistocene (at the end of the last ice age), approximately 23000-16500 years ago.
Like the flora, the fauna of this biome cannot boast of its diversity. Basically, species that adapt well to life in low temperatures live here. These animals include foxes, moose, minks, lynxes, weasels, bears, wolves. There are also many small rodents like mice, hares, etc.
As for birds, the most common are owls and hawks. In summer, due to a drop in temperature, a large number of all kinds of insects appear, which, in turn, serve as food for birds.
We all know that wood is used to make paper. In particular, so-called soft species – spruce, pine, etc. are suitable for these purposes. These trees are the backbone of the taiga. Because of this, this biome is in danger, as spruce and pine are actively cut down for paper production. In addition, only a small percentage of the forests in this biome are protected by the states in which it is located.
With the onset of heat, massive fires begin in the taiga. One has only to remember the forest fires in Siberia in 2019, when the area of fires covered about 5 million hectares. Fires are a terrible natural disaster, but in this case they are simply necessary for the forests of this biome. Fires destroy old, diseased trees and a large number of tree pests. Many animals are able to avoid natural fires, and some trees, such as aspen and pine, need fire to stimulate their reproductive cycles.
In addition, the ash formed after the combustion of plants is rich in nutrients and promotes the growth of new plants.
The characteristic landscape of this biome is swamps formed by the melting of large amounts of snow. All this is fed by a litter consisting of pine cones, twigs and other detritus, which is deposited in layers throughout the year. Since the climate here is very cold, there are not even bacteria in the taiga that can decompose all this detritus. Therefore, there are a lot of swamps in the taiga.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, huge areas of the Siberian taiga began to be cut down for harvesting lumber and exporting to other countries. Previously, the forest was under the protection of the USSR Ministry of Forestry, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, massive timber trade with European countries began, which led to a significant reduction in the taiga area in Russia.
As we said earlier, this natural area is prized for its forest. But not only the forest is mined in the taiga. For example, in the Russian Federation, in addition to timber, I extract oil, coal and natural gas. In the forests of this biome in Canada, mining of gold, silver, uranium is also organized.
The threat to the taiga is global warming. Because of this cataclysm, thawing of permafrost areas occurs. The water formed as a result of thawing fills the open spaces of the biome, which is why many fur-bearing animals are forced to move to other regions (to more northern ones). At the same time, due to warming, new insects penetrate into the southern regions of the taiga, for example, the bark beetle, which are capable of rapidly multiplying and destroying trees. That’s all, dear readers. Thank you for your attention to our Internet resource.