Image by RÜŞTÜ BOZKUŞ from Pixabay 


Natural landscapes are the original landscapes existing without the influence of human culture. The natural landscapes are beautiful. We all need access to unspoiled nature for our well-being, but due to human activity nature is increasingly threatened. We need to protect, preserve and maintain our invaluable natural world.

Here are the main types of natural landscapes:

Desert, Plain, Taiga, Tundra, Wetland, Mountain, Mountain range, Cliff, Coast, Littoral zone, Glacier, Polar regions of Earth, Shrubland, Forest, Rainforest, Woodland, Jungle, Moors.


A desert is a barren landscape with little precipitation making plant and animal life difficult. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation.

The large variation in temperature between day and night put strains on the rocks which consequently break into pieces. The wind picks up sand and dust producing sand storms. Sand grains striking any solid object in their path can abrade the surface. Rocks are smoothed down, and the wind sorts sand into uniform deposits. The grains end up as level sheets of sand or are piled high in billowing sand dunes.

Other deserts are flat, stony plains where all the fine material has been blown away and the surface consists of a mosaic of smooth stones. These areas are known as desert pavements. There may be underground sources of water in the form of springs and seepages from aquifers. Where these are found, oases can occur.

Plants and animals living in the desert are adapted to survive in harsh environments. Plants tend to be tough and wiry with small or no leaves, water-resistant cuticles, and often spines to deter animals from eating them. Some annual plants germinate, bloom, and die in the course of a few weeks after rainfall while other long-lived plants survive for years and have deep root systems able to absorb the underground moisture.

Animals need to keep cool and find enough food and water to survive. Many are nocturnal and stay in the shade or underground during the heat of the day. They tend to be efficient at conserving water, extracting most of their needs from their food, and concentrating their urine.

Some animals remain in a state of dormancy for long periods, ready to become active again when the rare rains fall. They then reproduce rapidly while conditions are favorable before returning to dormancy.


Plains are flat, sweeping landscapes existing as lowlands along the bottoms of valleys or on the doorsteps of mountains, as coastal plains, and as plateaus or uplands.

In a valley, a plain is enclosed on two sides but in other cases, a plain may be delineated by a complete or partial ring of hills, mountains, or cliffs. Coastal plains would mostly rise from sea level until they reach mountains or plateaus.

Plains are present on all continents and cover more than one-third of the world’s land area. They may have been formed by flowing lava, depositions by flowing water, ice, wind, or formed by erosion by these agents from hills and mountains.

Plains are generally grassland, steppe, savannah, or tundra. Rarely deserts and rainforests can also be plains. Plains with soils deposited as sediments may be fertile and well suited for crop production and grazing for livestock.


Taiga is a boreal forest or snow forest with pines, spruces, or larches.

The taiga is that type of natural landscape that covers the largest area on earth. In North America, it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States where it is known as the Northwoods or “North woods”.

In Europe, it covers most of Sweden, Finland, much of Norway, some of the Scottish Highlands, and some lowland/coastal areas of Iceland. Much of Russia from Karelia in the west to the Pacific Ocean, and areas of northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, and northern Japan are covered by taiga.

However, the main tree species, the length of the growing season, and summer temperatures vary. For example, the taiga of North America mostly consists of spruces; Scandinavian and Finnish taiga consists of a mix of spruce, pines, and birch.

Russian taiga has spruces, pines, and larches depending on the region, while the Eastern Siberian taiga is a vast larch forest.


Tundra is a natural landscape where tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra is Russian in origin and means “uplands” or a “treeless mountain tract”. There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine tundra, and Antarctic tundra.

In the tundra, the vegetation is composed of dwarf shrubs, sedges and grasses, mosses, and lichens. Scattered trees grow in some tundra regions. The boundary region between the tundra and the forest is known as the tree line or timberline.

Arctic Tundra:

Arctic tundra occurs in the far Northern Hemisphere, north of the taiga belt. The word “tundra” usually refers only to the areas where the subsoil is permafrost or permanently frozen soil. Permafrost tundra includes vast areas of northern Russia and Canada.

Arctic tundra contains areas of stark landscape and is frozen for much of the year. The soil there is frozen from 25 to 90 cm down, and it is impossible for trees to grow. Instead, bare and sometimes rocky land can only support low-growing plants such as moss, heath such as crowberry and black bearberry, and lichen.

There are two main seasons, winter and summer, in the polar tundra areas. During the winter it is very cold and dark, with the average temperature around −28 °C, sometimes dipping as low as −50 °C.

During the summer, temperatures rise somewhat, and the top layer of seasonally-frozen soil melts, leaving the ground very soggy.

The tundra is covered in marshes, lakes, bogs, and streams during the warm months. Generally, daytime temperatures during the summer rise to about 12 °C but can often drop to 3 °C or even below freezing.

Tundra tends to be windy, with winds often blowing upwards of 50–100 km/h. However, in terms of precipitation, it is desert-like, with only about 15–25 cm falling per year (the summer is typically the season of maximum precipitation).

During the summer, the permafrost thaws just enough to let plants grow and reproduce, but because the ground below this is frozen, the water cannot sink any lower, and so the water forms the lakes and marshes found during the summer months.

There are few species with large populations. Notable animals in the Arctic tundra include caribou (reindeer), musk ox, Arctic hare, Arctic fox, snowy owl, lemmings, and polar bears (only near ocean-fed bodies of water). Tundra is largely devoid of poikilotherms such as frogs or lizards.

Antarctic Tundra:

Image by Chuk Yong from Pixabay 

Antarctic tundra occurs in the Antarctic region. Most of Antarctica is too cold and dry to support vegetation, and most of the continent is covered by ice fields. However, some portions of the continent, particularly the Antarctic Peninsula, have areas of rocky soil that support plant life.

Alpine Tundra:

Alpine tundra does not contain trees because of the high altitude where it is too cold and windy to support tree growth. Alpine tundra transitions to subalpine forests below the tree line. With increasing elevation, it ends at the snow line where snow and ice persist through summer.

Alpine tundra occurs in mountains worldwide. The flora of the alpine tundra is characterized by dwarf shrubs close to the ground. The cold climate of the alpine tundra is similar to the polar climate.


A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, and has characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the hydric soil.

Wetlands play important roles in the environment, principally in water purification, flood control, and shoreline stability.

Wetlands are the most biologically diverse of all-natural landscapes being home to a wide range of plant and animal life.

Wetlands occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica, the largest includes the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, and the Pantanal in South America.

The water found in wetlands can be freshwater, brackish, or saltwater. The main wetland types include swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens; and sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than in any other ecosystem on Earth.

International conservation efforts are being used in conjunction with the development of rapid assessment tools to inform people about wetland issues.


A mountain is a large landform that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a peak. Mountains are formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. These forces can locally raise the surface of the earth. Mountains erode slowly through the action of rivers, weather conditions, and glaciers. A few mountains are isolated summits, but most occur in huge mountain ranges.

High elevations on mountains produce colder climates than at sea level. These colder climates strongly affect the ecosystems of mountains: different elevations have different plants and animals

The highest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest in the Himalayas of Asia, whose summit is 8,850 m above mean sea level.

There are three main types of mountains: volcanic, fold, and block. All three types are formed from plate tectonics: when portions of the Earth’s crust move, crumple, and dive. Compressional forces, isostatic uplift, and intrusion of igneous matter forces surface rock upward creating a landform higher than the surrounding features.

Volcanoes are formed when a plate is pushed below another plate, or at a mid-ocean ridge or hotspot. At a depth of around 100 km, melting occurs in rock above the slab (due to the addition of water), and forms magma that reaches the surface. When the magma reaches the surface, it often builds a volcanic mountain, such as a shield volcano or a stratovolcano.

Fold mountains occur when two plates collide: shortening occurs along thrust faults and the crust is over thickened. Since the less dense continental crust “floats” on the denser mantle rocks beneath, the weight of any crustal material forced upward to form hills, plateaus or mountains must be balanced by the buoyancy force of a much greater volume forced downward into the mantle. Thus the continental crust is normally much thicker under mountains, compared to lower-lying areas.

Block mountains are caused by faults in the crust: a plane where rocks have moved past each other. When rocks on one side of a fault rise relative to the other, they can form a mountain. The uplifted blocks are block mountains or horsts. The intervening dropped blocks are termed graben: these can be small or form extensive rift valley systems.

Mountain range:

A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarities in form, structure, and alignment that have arisen from the same cause, usually an orogeny.

Mountain ranges are formed by a variety of geological processes but are the result of plate tectonics. Mountain ranges are also found on many planetary objects in the Solar System and are likely a feature of most planets.

Mountain ranges are usually segmented by highlands or mountain passes and valleys. Individual mountains within the same mountain range do not necessarily have the same geologic structure or petrology.

They may be a mix of different orogenic expressions and terranes, for example, thrust sheets, uplifted blocks, fold mountains, and volcanic landforms resulting in a variety of rock types.

Most geologically young mountain ranges on the Earth’s land surface are associated with either the Pacific Ring of Fire or the Alpide Belt.

The Pacific Ring of Fire includes the Andes of South America, extends through the North American Cordillera along the Pacific Coast, the Aleutian Range, on through Kamchatka, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, to New Zealand.

The Andes is 7,000 kilometers long and is considered the world’s longest mountain system.

The Alpide belt includes Indonesia and Southeast Asia, through the Himalayas, Caucasus Mountains, Balkan Mountains fold mountain range, the Alps, and ends in the Spanish mountains and the Atlas Mountains.

The belt also includes other European and Asian mountain ranges. The Himalayas contain the highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest, which is 8,848 meters high and traverses the border between China and Nepal.

Mountain ranges outside these two systems include the Arctic Cordillera, the Urals, the Appalachians, the Scandinavian Mountains, the Great Dividing Range, the Altai Mountains, and the Hijaz Mountains.

If the definition of a mountain range is stretched to include underwater mountains, then the Ocean Ridges form the longest continuous mountain system on Earth, with a length of 65,000 kilometers.


Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay 

In geography and geology, a cliff is a vertical, or nearly vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms by the processes of weathering and erosion.

Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, on escarpments, and along rivers. Cliffs are usually formed by rock that is resistant to weathering and erosion.

Sedimentary rocks most likely to form cliffs include sandstone, limestone, chalk, and dolomite. Igneous rocks such as granite and basalt also often form cliffs.

An escarpment (or scarp) is a type of cliff, formed by the movement of a geologic fault or landslide, or by differential erosion of rock layers of differing hardness.

Most cliffs have some form of scree slope at their base. In arid areas or under high cliffs, they have generally exposed jumbles of fallen rock. In areas of higher moisture, a soil slope may obscure the talus.

Many cliffs also feature tributary waterfalls or rock shelters. Sometimes a cliff peters out at the end of a ridge, with tea tables or other types of rock columns remaining. Coastal erosion may lead to the formation of sea cliffs along a receding coastline.

The Ordnance Survey distinguishes between cliffs (continuous line along the top edge with projections down the face) and outcrops (continuous lines along lower edge).

Given that a cliff does not need to be exactly vertical, there can be ambiguity about whether a given slope is a cliff or not and also about how much of a certain slope to count as a cliff.

For example, given a truly vertical rock wall above a very steep slope, one could count just the rock wall or the combination.

Some of the largest cliffs on Earth are found underwater. For example, an 8,000 m drop over a 4,250 m span can be found at a ridge sitting inside the Kermadec Trench.

One candidate for highest cliff in the world is Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face, which rises approximately 4,600 m above its base. According to other sources, the highest cliff in the world, about 1,340 m high, is the east face of Great Trango in the Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan.

The location of the world’s highest sea cliffs depends also on the definition of ‘cliff’ that is used. Guinness World Records states it is Kalaupapa, Hawaii, at 1,010 m high. Another contender is the north face of Mitre Peak, which drops 1,683 m to Milford Sound, New Zealand.

These are subject to a less stringent definition, as the average slope of these cliffs at Kaulapapa is about 1.7, corresponding to an angle of 60 degrees, and Mitre Peak is similar.

A more vertical drop into the sea can be found at Maujit Qaqarssuasia (also known as the ‘Thumbnail’) which is situated in the Torssukátak fjord area at the very tip of South Greenland and drops 1,560 m near-vertically.

Considering a truly vertical drop, Mount Thor on Baffin Island in Arctic Canada is often considered the highest at 1370 m high in total (the top 480 m is overhanging) and is said to give it the longest vertical drop on Earth at 1,250 m.

However, other cliffs on Baffin Island, such as Polar Sun Spire in the Sam Ford Fjord, or others in remote areas of Greenland may be higher.

The highest cliff in the solar system may be Verona Rupes, an approximately 20 km high fault scarp on Miranda, a moon of Uranus.


The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is the area where land meets the sea or ocean, or a line that forms the boundary between the land and the ocean or a lake.

The term coastal zone is a region where the interaction of the sea and land processes occurs. Both the terms coast and coastal are often used to describe a geographic location or region. Edinburgh is an example city on the coast of Great Britain.

The term pelagic coast refers to a coast that fronts the open ocean, as opposed to a more sheltered coast in a gulf or bay.

A shore, on the other hand, can refer to parts of land adjoining any large body of water, including oceans and lakes.

Similarly, the somewhat related term stream bed or stream bank refers to the land alongside or sloping down to a river or body of water smaller than a lake.

A bank is also used in some parts of the world to refer to an artificial ridge of earth intended to retain the water of a river or pond; in other places, this may be called a levee.

While many scientific experts might agree on a common definition of the term coast, the delineation of the extent of a coast differs according to jurisdiction, with many scientific and government authorities in various countries differing for economic and social policy reasons.

According to the UN atlas, 44% of people live within 150 km of the sea.

Tides often determine the range over which sediment is deposited or eroded. Areas with high tidal ranges allow waves to reach farther up the shore, and areas with lower tidal ranges produce deposition at a smaller elevation interval.

The tidal range is influenced by the size and shape of the coastline. Tides do not typically cause erosion by themselves; however, tidal bores can erode as the waves surge up river estuaries from the ocean.

Waves erode coastline as they break on shore releasing their energy; the larger the wave the more energy it releases and the more sediment it moves.

Coastlines with longer shores have more room for the waves to disperse their energy, while coasts with cliffs and short shore faces give little room for the wave energy to be dispersed.

In these areas, the wave energy breaking against the cliffs is higher, and air and water are compressed into cracks in the rock, forcing the rock apart, and breaking it down.

Sediment deposited by waves comes from eroded cliff faces and is moved along the coastline by the waves. This forms an abrasion or cliffed coast.

Sediment deposited by rivers is the dominant influence on the amount of sediment located on a coastline.

Like the ocean which shapes them, coasts are a dynamic environment with constant change.

The Earth’s natural processes, particularly sea level rises, waves, and various weather phenomena, have resulted in the erosion, accretion, and reshaping of coasts as well as flooding and creation of continental shelves and drowned river valleys.

Littoral zone:

The littoral zone or nearshore is the part of a sea, lake, or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments, the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged.

What is regarded as the full extent of the littoral zone, and the way the littoral zone is divided into subregions, varies in different contexts.

The adjacency of water gives a number of distinctive characteristics to littoral regions. The erosive power of water results in particular types of landforms, such as sand dunes, and estuaries.

The natural movement of the littoral along the coast is called the littoral drift. Biologically, the ready availability of water enables a greater variety of plant and animal life, particularly the formation of extensive wetlands.

In addition, the additional local humidity due to evaporation usually creates a microclimate supporting unique types of organisms.

The word littoral may be used both as a noun and as an adjective. It derives from the Latin noun litus, litoris, meaning “shore”.

In oceanography and marine biology, the idea of the littoral zone is extended roughly to the edge of the continental shelf.

Starting from the shoreline, the littoral zone begins at the spray region just above the high tide mark. From here, it moves to the intertidal region between the high and low water marks, and then out as far as the edge of the continental shelf.

The supralittoral zone is the area above the spring high tide line that is regularly splashed but not submerged by ocean water. Seawater penetrates these elevated areas only during storms with high tides.

The eulittoral zone is the intertidal zone, known also as the foreshore. It extends from the spring high tide line, which is rarely inundated, to the spring low tide line, which is rarely not inundated. It is alternately exposed and submerged, once or twice daily. Organisms living here must be able to withstand the varying conditions of temperature, light, salinity, etc.

The sublittoral zone starts immediately below the eulittoral zone. This zone is permanently covered with seawater and is approximately equivalent to the neritic zone.

In physical oceanography, the sublittoral zone refers to coastal regions with significant tidal flows and energy dissipation, including non-linear flows, internal waves, river outflows, and oceanic fronts.

In practice, this typically extends to the edge of the continental shelf, with depths around 200 meters.


Image by Nico Grütter from Pixabay 

A glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries.

Glaciers slowly deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques and moraines.

On Earth, 99% of glacial ice is contained within vast ice sheets in the polar regions, but glaciers may be found in mountain ranges on every continent including Oceania’s high-latitude oceanic island countries such as New Zealand.

Between 35°N and 35°S, glaciers occur only in the Himalayas, Andes, Rocky Mountains, a few high mountains in East Africa, Mexico, New Guinea, and on Zard Kuh in Iran.

Glaciers cover about 10 percent of Earth’s land surface. Continental glaciers cover nearly 13 million km2 or about 98 percent of Antarctica’s 13.2 million km2, with an average thickness of 2,100 m.

Greenland and Patagonia also have huge expanses of continental glaciers. The volume of glaciers, not including the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, has been estimated as 170,000 km3.

Glacial ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth. Many glaciers from temperate, alpine and seasonal polar climates store water as ice during the colder seasons and release it later in the form of meltwater as warmer summer temperatures cause the glacier to melt, creating a water source that is especially important for plants, animals and human uses when other sources may be scant.

Within high-altitude and Antarctic environments, the seasonal temperature difference is often not sufficient to release meltwater.

Since glacial mass is affected by long-term climatic changes, e.g., precipitation, mean temperature, and cloud cover, glacial mass changes are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change and are a major source of variations in sea level.

A large piece of compressed ice, or a glacier, appears blue, as large quantities of water appear blue. This is because water molecules absorb other colors more efficiently than blue.

Another reason for the blue color of glaciers is the lack of air bubbles. Air bubbles, which give a white color to ice, are squeezed out by pressure increasing the density of the created ice.

Polar Regions:

The polar regions, also called the frigid zones, of Earth are the regions of the planet that surround the North and South Poles, lying within the polar circles.

These high latitudes are dominated by Earth’s polar ice caps: the northern resting on the Arctic Ocean and the southern on the continent of Antarctica.

Polar regions receive less intense solar radiation than the other parts of Earth because the sun’s energy arrives at an oblique angle, spreading over a larger area, and also travels a longer distance through the Earth’s atmosphere in which it may be absorbed, scattered or reflected.

The axial tilt of the Earth has a major effect on the climate of the polar regions. Since the polar regions are the farthest from the equator, they receive the least amount of sunlight and are therefore frigid.

The large amount of ice and snow also reflects a large part of what little sunlight the Polar regions receive, contributing to the cold.

Polar regions are characterized by the polar climate, extremely cold temperatures, heavy glaciation wherever there is sufficient precipitation to form permanent ice, and extreme variations in daylight hours, with twenty-four hours of daylight in summer, and complete darkness in mid-winter.

There are many settlements in Earth’s north polar region. Countries with claims to Arctic regions are the United States (Alaska), Canada (Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut), Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Russia.

While there are no indigenous human cultures, there is a complex ecosystem, especially along Antarctica’s coastal zones. Coastal upwelling provides abundant nutrients which feeds krill, a type of marine crustacea, which in turn feeds a complex of living creatures from penguins to blue whales.


Shrubland, scrub, or bush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes.

It may be the mature vegetation type in a particular region and remain stable over time, or a transitional community that occurs temporarily as the result of a disturbance, such as fire.

A stable state may be maintained by regular natural disturbance such as fire or browsing.

Shrubland species generally show a wide range of adaptations to fire, such as heavy seed production, lignotubers, and fire-induced germination.

In botany and ecology, a shrub is defined as a much-branched woody plant less than 8 m high and usually with many stems. Tall shrubs are mostly 2–8 m high, small shrubs 1–2 m high, and subshrubs less than 1 m high.

A descriptive system widely adopted in Australia to describe different types of vegetation is based on structural characteristics based on plant life-form, plus the height and foliage cover of the tallest stratum or dominant species.

Similarly, shrubland is a category used to describe a type of biome plant group. In this context, shrublands are dense thickets of evergreen sclerophyll shrubs and small trees.

In some places shrubland is the mature vegetation type, and in other places the result of degradation of former forest or woodland by logging or overgrazing, or disturbance by major fires.

Desert scrublands:

Xeric or desert scrublands occur in the world’s deserts and xeric shrublands ecoregions, or in areas of fast-draining sandy soils in more humid regions.

These scrublands are characterized by plants with adaptations to the dry climate, which include small leaves to limit water loss, thorns to protect them from grazing animals, succulent leaves or stems, storage organs to store water, and long taproots to reach groundwater.

Mediterranean scrublands:

Mediterranean scrublands occur naturally in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biomes, located in the five Mediterranean climate regions of the world.

Scrublands are most common near the seacoast, and have often adapted to the wind and salt air of the ocean. Low, soft-leaved scrublands around the Mediterranean Basin are known as garrigue in France, phrygana in Greece, tomillares in Spain, and batha in Israel.

Northern coastal scrub and coastal sage scrub occur along the California coast, strandveld in the Western Cape of South Africa, coastal matorral in central Chile, and sand-heath and kwongan in Southwest Australia.

Interior scrublands:

Interior scrublands occur naturally in semi-arid areas where soils are nutrient-poor, such as on the matas of Portugal which are underlain by Cambrian and Silurian schists. Florida scrub is another example of interior scrublands.

Dwarf shrubs:

  • Moorland on Kilimanjaro

Some vegetation types are formed of dwarf shrubs: low-growing or creeping shrubs. These include the maquis and garrigues of Mediterranean climates and the acid-loving dwarf shrubs of heathland and moorland.


A forest is a large area dominated by trees. According to the widely used Food and Agriculture Organization definition, forests covered 4 billion hectares or 15 million square miles) or approximately 30 percent of the world’s land area in 2006.

Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of Earth and are distributed around the globe. Forests account for 75% of the gross primary production of the Earth’s biosphere and contain 80% of the Earth’s plant biomass.

Net primary production is estimated at 21.9 gigatonnes of carbon per year for tropical forests, 8.1 for temperate forests, and 2.6 for boreal forests.

Forests at different latitudes and elevations form distinctly different ecozones: boreal forests around the poles, tropical forests around the Equator, and temperate forests at the middle latitudes.

Higher elevation areas tend to support forests similar to those at higher latitudes, and the amount of precipitation also affects forest composition.

Human society and forests influence each other in both positive and negative ways. Forests provide ecosystem services to humans and serve as tourist attractions.

Forests can also affect people’s health. Human activities, including harvesting forest resources, can negatively affect forest ecosystems.

A forest is made up of many layers. The main layers of all forest types are the forest floor, the understory, and the canopy. The emergent layer exists in tropical rainforests.

Each layer has a different set of plants and animals depending upon the availability of sunlight, moisture, and food.

The forest floor contains decomposing leaves, animal droppings, and dead trees. Decay on the forest floor forms new soil and provides nutrients to the plants.

The forest floor supports ferns, grasses, mushrooms, and tree seedlings.

The understory is made up of bushes, shrubs, and young trees that are adapted to living in the shades of the canopy.

Canopy is formed by the mass of intertwined branches, twigs, and leaves of the mature trees. The crowns of the dominant trees receive most of the sunlight. This is the most productive part of the trees where maximum food is produced.

The canopy forms a shady, protective “umbrella” over the rest of the forest. An emergent layer exists in the tropical rainforest and is composed of a few scattered trees that tower over the canopy.

Forests can be classified in different ways and to different degrees of specificity. One such way is in terms of the biome in which they exist, combined with the leaf longevity of the dominant species (whether they are evergreen or deciduous).

Another distinction is whether the forests are composed predominantly of broadleaf trees, coniferous (needle-leaved) trees, or mixed.

Boreal forests occupy the subarctic zone and are generally evergreen and coniferous.

Temperate zones support both broadleaf deciduous forests (e.g., temperate deciduous forests) and evergreen coniferous forests (e.g., temperate coniferous forests and temperate rainforests). Warm temperate zones support broadleaf evergreen forests, including laurel forests.

Tropical and subtropical forests include tropical and subtropical moist forests, tropical and subtropical dry forests, and tropical and subtropical coniferous forests.

Physiognomy classifies forests based on their overall physical structure or developmental stage (e.g. old growth vs. second growth).

Forests can also be classified more specifically based on the climate and the dominant tree species present, resulting in numerous different forest types (e.g., Ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forest).


Rainforests are forests characterized by high and continuous rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between 2.5 and 4.5 meters, and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests.

The monsoon trough plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth’s tropical rainforests: which are distinct from monsoonal areas of seasonal tropical forests.

Estimates vary from 40% to 75% of all biotic species are indigenous to the rainforests.

There may be many millions of species of plants, insects, and microorganisms still undiscovered in tropical rainforests.

Tropical rainforests have been called the “jewels of the Earth” and the “world’s largest pharmacy” because over one-quarter of natural medicines have been discovered there.

Rainforests are also responsible for 28% of the world’s oxygen turnover, sometimes misnamed oxygen production, processing it through photosynthesis from carbon dioxide and consuming it through respiration.

The undergrowth in some areas of a rainforest can be restricted by poor penetration of sunlight to ground level.

If the leaf canopy is destroyed or thinned, the ground beneath is soon colonized by a dense, tangled growth of vines, shrubs, and small trees called a jungle.

The term jungle is also sometimes applied to tropical rainforests generally. Rainforests, as well as endemic rainforest species, are rapidly disappearing due to deforestation, the resulting habitat loss, and pollution of the atmosphere.


Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during the early stages of primary or secondary succession.

Higher density areas of trees with a largely closed canopy that provides extensive and nearly continuous shade are referred to as forests.

Extensive efforts by conservationist groups have been made to preserve woodlands from urbanization and agriculture: the woodlands of Northwest Indiana being an example, having been preserved as part of the Indiana Dunes.

Woodland is used in British woodland management to mean tree-covered areas which arose naturally and which are then managed, while the forest is usually used in the British Isles to describe plantations, usually more extensive, or hunting Forests, which are a land-use with a legal definition and may not be wooded at all.

The term ancient woodland is used in British nature conservation to refer to any wooded land that has existed since 1600, and often for thousands of years, since the last Ice Age.

Woodlot is a closely related American term that refers to a stand of trees generally used for firewood. While woodlots often technically have closed canopies, they are so small that light penetration from the edge makes them ecologically closer to woodland than forest.

In Australia, a woodland is defined as an area with a sparse cover of trees, and an open woodland has a very sparse cover.

Woodlands are also subdivided into tall woodlands, or low woodlands, if their trees are over 30 m or under 10 m high respectively. This contrasts with forests, which have greater than 30% cover by trees.


Image by Florian Kurz from Pixabay 

A jungle is land covered with dense forest and tangled vegetation, usually in the tropics. The application of the term has varied greatly during the past recent centuries. Before the 1970s, tropical rainforests were generally referred to as jungles, but this terminology has fallen out of usage.

The word jungle originates from the Sanskrit word Jangla, meaning dry, dry ground, and desert. Although the Sanskrit word refers to dry land, it has been suggested that an Anglo-Indian interpretation led to its connotation as a dense “tangled thicket” while others have argued that a cognate word in Urdu did refer to forests.

The term is prevalent in many languages of the Indian subcontinent, and the Iranian Plateau, where it is commonly used to refer to the plant growth replacing primeval forest or to the unkempt tropical vegetation that takes over abandoned areas.

Because jungles occur on all inhabited landmasses and may incorporate numerous vegetation and land types in different climatic zones, the wildlife of jungles can not be straightforwardly defined.

One of the most common meanings of a jungle is land overgrown with tangled vegetation at ground level, especially in the tropics. Typically such vegetation is sufficiently dense to hinder movement by humans, requiring that travelers cut their way through.

This definition draws a distinction between rainforest and jungle, since the understorey of rainforests is typically open of vegetation due to a lack of sunlight, and hence relatively easy to traverse.

Jungles may exist within, or at the borders of, rainforests in areas where rainforest has been opened through natural disturbances such as hurricanes.

The successional vegetation that springs up following such disturbance of rainforest is dense and tangled and is a ‘typical’ jungle.

Jungle also typically forms along rainforest margins such as stream banks, once again due to the greater available light at ground level.

Monsoon forests and mangroves are commonly referred to as jungles of this type. Having a more open canopy than rainforests, monsoon forests typically have dense understoreys with numerous lianas and shrubs making movement difficult, while the prop roots and low canopies of mangroves produce similar difficulties.

Because European explorers initially traveled through tropical rainforests largely by river, the dense tangled vegetation lining the stream banks gave a misleading impression that such jungle conditions existed throughout the entire forest.

As a result, it was wrongly assumed that the entire forest was an impenetrable jungle. This in turn appears to have given rise to the second popular usage of a jungle as virtually any humid tropical forest.

Jungle in this context is particularly associated with tropical rain forests but may extend to cloud forests, temperate rainforests, and mangroves with no reference to the vegetation structure or the ease of travel.

The word “rainforest” has largely replaced “jungle” as the descriptor of humid tropical forests, a linguistic transition that has occurred since the 1970s. “Rainforest” itself did not appear in English dictionaries prior to the 1970s. The word “jungle” accounted for over 80% of the terms used to refer to tropical forests in print media prior to the 1970s; since then it has been steadily replaced by “rainforest”, although “jungle” still remains in common use when referring to tropical rainforests.

As a metaphor, jungle often refers to situations that are unruly or lawless, or where the only law is perceived to be “survival of the fittest”. This reflects the view of “city people” that forests are such places.

The word “jungle” itself carries connotations of untamed and uncontrollable nature and isolation from civilization, along with the emotions that evoke: threat, confusion, powerlessness, disorientation, and immobilization.

The change from “jungle” to “rainforest” as the preferred term for describing tropical forests as has been a response to an increasing perception of these forests as fragile and spiritual places, a viewpoint not in keeping with the darker connotations of “jungle”.

Cultural scholars, especially post-colonial critics, often analyze the jungle within the concept of hierarchical domination and the demand western cultures often places on other cultures to conform to their standards of civilization.


Moorland or moor is a type of habitat found in upland areas in temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands and montane grasslands and shrublands biomes, characterized by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils.

Moorland, nowadays, generally means uncultivated hill land, but also includes low-lying wetlands. It is closely related to heath, although experts disagree on what precisely distinguishes both types of vegetation.

Generally, moor refers to highland and high rainfall zones whereas heath refers to lowland zones that are more likely to be the result of human activity.

Moorland habitats mostly occur in tropical Africa, northern and western Europe, and neotropical South America.

Most of the world’s moorlands are very diverse ecosystems. In the extensive moorlands of the tropics, biodiversity can be extremely high.

Moorland also bears a relationship to tundra (where the subsoil is permafrost or permanently frozen soil), appearing as the tundra and the natural tree zone.

The boundary between tundra and moorland constantly shifts with climatic change.


Basically the landscape can be one of many types like plains, elevations, wetlands, valley, rocky, hills or mountains, deserts, forests, rivers or lakes or canals or seas.

The fertility of land is facilitated by rivers and lakes.

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