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Forests have trees, and lots of them. But there’s more to forests than meets the eye. Forests keep land warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. They stop land from eroding. Forests also make lots of oxygen for us to breathe. Venture deeper into a forest, and you’ll see that it’s home sweet home for a lot of different plants and animals.

Forests are kind of like apartment buildings – there are different levels. The top level of a forest is called the “canopy”. The canopy gets the most sunlight, so animals like birds, squirrels, owls, and insects hang around up there. The next level down is the “understory”, between the tops of the trees and the ground. Bushes, short trees, birds, deer, and bears are in this part of the forest. Next stop is the floor, which is covered with ferns, moss, flowers, roots, and soil. Remember that forests aren’t all pine trees and brown bears. There are many different kinds of forests, such as tropical forests, rain forests, and deciduous (deh-SID-joo-us) forests. Each type of forest is home to different species of plants and animals.

Don’t miss the “Forests” episode – it’s a tree-mendous show.

The Big Ideas

  • A forest is a large area of land covered with trees.
  • A forest has three levels, a canopy, a floor, and an understory.
  • Different kinds of plants and animals live at each level of a forest.

Did You Know That?

  • In the western United States, the biggest cause of forest fires is lightning?
  • A recycled stack of newspapers 1.2 meters (4 feet, 0 inches) high is enough paper to save one tree?
  • It takes the trees from 4,000 square meters (one acre) of forest to build one average-sized house?

Books of Science!

  • “Temperate”by April Pulley Syre. Published by Twenty-First Century Books, 1994.
  • “Inside the Amazing Amazon” by Don Lessen. Published by Crown Publishers, 1995.
Bill Nye