An aerial view of a tropical rainforest. Image credit MediaWiki

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:World forest resources:Tropical forests

  • The world’s forests can be divided into three broad classes.
  • These are tropical, temperate deciduous forests and coniferous forests.

Tropical forests

  • These are lowland and low latitude luxuriant forests.
  • They comprise tropical rain forests in the Amazon Basin, coastal West Africa and the Congo Basin as well as South East Asia, among others.

Composition of tropical rainforests

  • The rainforests consists of a wide variety of species over a small area.
  • The forest contains mainly three layers of vegetation.
  • The top layer mainly composed of scattered tall trees growing to heights of over 40 metres at the top of the forest view. These trees are called emergent.
  • The second layer which is a closed canopy of trees with heights of between 25 and 35 metres.
  • The third layer which is an under canopy of fairly dense trees competing for light between 15 and 20 metres.
  • Below the under canopy there is very little undergrowth due to the absence of light.
  • Dense bush can however, be observed in areas of open forest resulting from human interference or along river valleys.
  • Climbers such as lianas entangle the tall tree species in search of light.
  • The forest consists of valuable tree species for hardwood timber.
  • These include the mahogany, teak, iron heart, ebony, sapele, green heart, rosewood which are in demand locally and abroad for the making of expensive furniture and construction industry.
  • The forests also contain valuable trees crops providing raw materials for industry.
  • These include rubber, gums, oils, cocoa, dyes, camphor and several crops such as bananas and over 25% of the worlds known medicines.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page

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