Primary and Secondary Forests: the differences to know.

Rainforest do exist in temperate climates!

They are rainforests in many countries and while popular belief is that they exist only in tropical climates, they also do temperate climates, including in the United States, Russia or Canada. Rainforests grow thick canopied thanks to the abundant rainfall, which create an amazing diversity of both vegetal and animal species, In temperate climates, there isn't however that characteristical humidity of tropical rainforests as they grow with different parameters such as latitude, altitude, flooding or types of soil. These forests come up with a mosaic of vegetation classes, a diversity found nowhere else and....that shall be protected at all costs. Sadly, the famous case of the Amazon forest whose size is shirking at a fast pace every year is happening in many other places such as Indonesia, where Kaltimber is located.

The "primary forest”, humanity's biodiversity's vault

Rainforests are also called "Primary Forests" thanks to their pristine untouched vegetation because unaffected by any human activity. Primary full ceiling canopy and multiple layers of understory are prevalent in primary rainforests. The ground floor is basically clear of heavy vegetation because the above canopy allows limited sunlight penetration, the lifeline of plants growth. Periodically, when trees fall, the canopy opens and allows the growth of plants. Primary forests are considered to be the most biologically diverse class of forests and to the surprise of many, they still exist in Europe.


Secondary Forest, a human-caused definition.

On the other hand, secondary forests are rainforests that have been disturbed by human activity in a way or another. Secondary forests often become so because of logging activity for agricultural purposes and are characterized by a minimal canopy structure, less diversity and smaller trees. As a result of a lighter canopy, more warmth and light will reach the floor which supports ground vegetation's growth.

Secondary Forest, Ecuador (Austin State University, 2016)

Secondary Forest, Ecuador (Austin State University, 2016)

Based on studies, from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it was estimated that primary forest comprises about 1/3 of the total forest area. However, they are rapidly decreasing at a rate of 6 million hectares each year because of intensive logging, usually focusing on the harvesting of a couple of tree species in a particular area.

Botanists do not know how long it takes for the secondary forest to reach the levels and structures of biodiversity as primary forest. Studies have shown that trees in the Central Amazon forest, on the average, are several hundred years old, suggesting that primary forests take centuries to grow to the level we are witnessing them today.

Regardless of what class or type of forest we are talking about, what is important is to contribute to nature and buy wooden products bearing the label FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), an international non-profit promoting responsible management of the world’s forests.