In the arctic, trees are scarce and most of the land is covered with dry tundra. But not every place in the north is barren. Just south of the polar regions grow boreal forests. Most deciduous trees can’t survive here because of the extreme cold, but evergreen conifer trees can. These trees have tough, waxy leaves that can withstand even months of freezing temperatures.
- Because the ground never thaws completely, it never dries out. In some areas, the ground is very soggy. Dead plants and leaves don’t decay quickly, but instead turn into acidic, peaty soil.
- Any animals living here must be tough. Mammals, such as bears, foxes, wolves and lynx have thick fur. Many animals hibernate through the winter months.
- Birds have a tough go of it too in northern forests. Some birds, including ravens, owls and eagles, stay for the winter, but most fly south to warmer climates.
- Scarce: in short supply
- Tundra: a vast, treeless region in the Arctic
- Boreal: belonging to the Northern regions
- Conifer: bearing cones
- Hibernate: to sleep or slow down the body
Head over to the University of California Santa Barbara to learn more about boreal forests.
Question: Do people live in the boreal forests?
Answer: Some large cities, such as Toronto, sit at the southern portions of boreal forests, but most forests are sparsely populated. Native people may live there in small numbers. These areas are remote and hard to reach. Conditions are harsh and there is little food.