There’s something special about forests. It’s a glimpse, perhaps, into what our world looked like for eons. Though so many of these precious ecosystems have been gobbled up by human expansion and industry, there are still quite a few gems out there. Click through to take a look at eight of the most awe-inspiring forests on the planet. Have a favorite of your own? Tell us about it in the comments section!
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1. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Tucked away in a remote part of New Zealand, Fiordland National Park is one of the largest of its kind in the world. How remote is it? Well, enough for some scientists to believe that plant and animal species thought to be extinct may very well be alive and thriving within this temperate rainforest. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s home to fjords, waterfalls, and miles of pristine beaches.
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2. Redwood National Forest, Northern Calif.
This forest’s namesake is, of course, the tallest tree in the world. And the famed coast redwood trees are truly a sight to be seen. These trees are truly massive; the biggest one measures in at 379 feet tall and 26 feet in diameter. In fact, it is believed that, before 96 percent of the old growth forest was logged, there were redwoods even taller than that!
3. Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
This stunning rainforest is home to more species of orchid than anywhere else on the planet. And that’s not all: you’ll find 500 species of butterflies, 400 different kinds of birds, and over 100 different types of mammals. The forest is almost entirely old-growth.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
4. Daintree Forest, Australia
The Greater Daintree Forest is thought to be the oldest tropical rainforest on the planet, having existed continuously for the past 110 million years. Incredible vistas and waterfalls abound, as well as some of the nation’s most famous critters. Yep, you’ll find kangaroos, wallabies and platypuses in this breathtaking forest.
5. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
Around 340 mountain gorillas live within this lush forest, accounting for over half of the critically endangered ape’s wild population. Though they may be the most famous animal living within the park, they are far from the only. The Bwindi forest is rich with animal life, containing chimps, monkeys, elephants, antelopes, and hundreds of species of birds and butterflies. The flora ain’t so bad, either, with over 50 percent of Uganda’s tree species and over 100 different kinds of ferns. Indeed, the Bwindi Forest is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet.
6. Amazon Rainforest, South America
The Amazon is perhaps the most famous forest on earth, and it certainly earns the distinction. Spectacular animal life, incredible plants, and the world’s longest river makes this forest one of the most important, and, indeed, unparalleled ecosystems in the world. How unparalleled? Well, there are more species of plants and animals in the region than anywhere else on earth. One in five of the world’s bird and animal species live in the trees and waters of the Amazon; overall, one in 10 of the world’s identified species call the area home.
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7. Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
Waterfalls, brightly-hued lakes and snow-capped mountains make this national park stand out. There are even a handful of Giant Pandas living within this forest! Perhaps the best time of year to visit the forest is in the fall, when the landscape becomes dotted with the spectacular changing leaves.
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8. Olympic National Park, Washington St.
A few hours’ drive from Seattle sits Olympic National Park, and the temperate rainforest within it. In fact, it’s one of the largest, if not the largest, temperate rainforests in the world. The wettest place in the continental United States, the scenery is almost overwhelmingly green. You’ll find beautiful coastline, rugged snow-capped mountain peaks and some of the most incredible swimming spots in North America.