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Taiga and Boreal Forest

Taiga & Boreal Forest

Taiga and Boreal Forest are areas characterized by coniferous Forests. With a harsh continental climate of cold winters and hot summers the forest extends through inland Siberia, Alaska, Canada and the inland areas of Northern Scandinavia. It is the World’s largest Biome. To the north of it is the Tundra

Scattered amongst the conifers are the small leaved deciduous trees like birch, willow, alder and aspen, and the larch which is a deciduous conifer and can endure some of the coldest of winters

Trees on the Taiga tend to be shallow rooted to take advantage of the shallow, nutrient poor soil. The soil is mostly acidic because much of the organic matter falling on it consists of evergreen needles. This acidic soil is not welcoming to many plant species, resulting in a preponderance of mosses and lichens which thrive in the acid conditions, but the Taiga has very low biological diversity.

The southern part of the Taiga is often called Boreal Forest, here where conditions are less harsh the colder Arctic edge, the trees grow taller and there are more tree species and a more diverse understory. The Open Taiga is more common in the north and close to the Arctic treeline, this is more widely spaced trees with a carpet of lichens and acid loving plants between them.


The Taiga supports large herbivores and small rodents that have adapted to deal with the cold, There are predatory mammals like wolves, lynxes and wolverines that prey on the larger mammals and foxes, weasels and owls that eat the smaller animals. Bears deal with the cold winter by eating hard during the summer and hibernating through the worst of the cold

Birds migrate into the taiga in summer because of the long hours of daylight and the abundance of insects, these provide the protein needed to raise baby birds successfully. Few species overwinter but among them are the raven and some ptarmigan species.


The main threat to the Taiga and Boreal Forests is timber extraction and fires.

Text © B & C Alexander

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