This article is about a community of trees. For other uses, see Forest (disambiguation).
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A conifer forest in the Swiss Alps (National Park)
Mixed deciduous forest in Stara Planina, Serbia
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending on various cultural definitions, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have different classifications according to how and what of the forest is composed. These plant communities cover approximately 9.4 percent of the Earth's surface (or 30 percent of total land area), though they once covered much more (about 50 percent of total land area), in many different regions and function as habitats for organisms, hydrologic flow modulators, and soil conservers, constituting one of the most important aspects of the biosphere. Although forests are classified primarily by trees, the concept of a forest ecosystem includes additional species (such as smaller plants, fungi, bacteria, and animals) as well as physical and chemical processes such as energy flow and nutrient cycling. A typical forest is composed of the overstory (canopy or upper tree layer) and the understory. The understory is further subdivided into the shrub layer, herb layer, and also the moss layer and soil microbes. In some complex forests, there is also a well-defined lower tree layer. Forests are central to all human life because they provide a diverse range of resources: they store carbon, aid in regulating the planetary climate, purify water and mitigate natural hazards such as floods. Forests also contain roughly 90 percent of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. Contents * 1 Etymology * 2 Distribution * 3 Classification * 3.1 Temperate needleleaf * 3.2 Temperate broadleaf and mixed * 3.3 Tropical moist * 3.4 Tropical dry * 3.5 Sparse trees and parkland * 3.6 Forest plantations * 3.7 Forest categories * 3.7.1 Temperate and boreal forest types * 3.7.2 Tropical forest types * 4 Forest loss and management * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links
The word "forest" comes from Middle English forest, from Old French forest (also forès) "forest, vast expanse covered by trees"; first introduced in English as the word for wild land set aside for hunting without the necessity in definition for the existence of trees (James 1981;Muir 2000,2008). Possibly a borrowing (probably via Frankish or Old High German) of the Medieval Latin word foresta "open wood", foresta was first used by Carolingian scribes in the Capitularies of Charlemagne to refer specifically to the king's royal hunting grounds. The term was not endemic to Romance languages (e.g. native words for "forest" in the Romance languages evolved out of the Latin word silva "forest, wood" (English sylvan); cf. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese selva; Romanian silvă; Old French selve); and cognates in Romance languages, such as Italian foresta, Spanish and Portuguese floresta, etc. are all ultimately borrowings of the French word. The exact origin of Medieval Latin foresta is obscure. Some authorities claim the word derives from the Late Latin phrase forestam silvam, meaning "the outer wood"; others claim the term is a latinisation of the Frankish word *forhist "forest, wooded country", assimilated to forestam silvam (a common practise among Frankish scribes). Frankish *forhist is attested by Old High German forst "forest", Middle Low German vorst "forest", Old English fyrhþ "forest, woodland, game preserve, hunting ground", and Old Norse fýri "coniferous forest", all of which derive from Proto-Germanic *furχísa-, *furχíþja- "a fir-wood, coniferous forest", from Proto-Indo-European *perkwu- "a...
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