Weekend Diversion: The Top 10 Forests in the World

"But I'll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you'll come to understand that you're connected with everything." -Alan Watts

As we move farther away from the equinox and towards the solstice, my part of the world is seeing not only more daylight, but also more sunshine, warmer temperatures, and -- at least today -- some glorious days to be out in nature. This weekend, have a listen to Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ronu Majumdar, Sabir Khan & Tarun Bhattacharya's interpretive nature song,

Flame of the Forest,

while I share with you my list of the top 10 forests in the world that I'd most like to see! (So, yes, this automatically excludes some of the magnificent forests I've already had the pleasure to be in, including the one on the mountainside of Mt. Fuji, atop!) In no particular order, here they are (and as always, click on them for the best-resolution image available):

Image credit: High Definition Wallpapers, via http://www.artswallpapers.com/. Image credit: High Definition Wallpapers, via http://www.artswallpapers.com/.

10.) The Amazon Rainforest, South America. The largest rainforest in the world, it dwarfs all other rainforests on Earth combined. There's arguably a greater diversity of flora and fauna found here than anywhere else on the planet. There's no way a simple picture can do this -- or any of the forests listed here -- true justice, but I'd love to experience it for myself.

Image credit: Mariusz Jurgielewicz. Image credit: Mariusz Jurgielewicz.

9.) Sequoia National Forest, California. An entire forest named for the largest trees in the world, the sequoias. Above is an image of General Sherman, the tree with the single largest mass-and-volume in the world. It's older than the Roman Empire, nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty, wider than all trees except the baobabs, and in 2006 lost a branch that was bigger than most full-grown trees! If you took just the trunk and dehydrated all the water out of it, it would still weigh over 1,000 tonnes. And yes, there's a whole forest full of trees just like it.

Image credit: © William Manning / Corbis. Image credit: © William Manning / Corbis.

8.) Redwood National Park, California. Home to the tallest trees in the world, I've actually seen a number of Redwoods along the California and Oregon coasts, although I've never been to the eponymous national (or state) park. A forest of trees stretching upwards so high that you can't even see the treetops on a foggy day, this is too close for me to not see it, and soon. I really have no excuse.

On the other hand, there are plenty of forests I want to see that would require a little more legwork.

Image credit: imgur user StaphInfection, via http://imgur.com/gallery/QMJgq. Image credit: imgur user StaphInfection, via http://imgur.com/gallery/QMJgq.

7.) The Crooked Forest, Poland. The youngest forest on my list, the Crooked Forest was planted around 1930, and consists of around 400 oddly-curved trees like this. Appearing to be normal pine trees in an otherwise unremarkable forest, it's thought that they're curved like this due to some hitherto undiscovered human intervention. So unique, it reminds me of Pearl Fryer, and I'd love to get the chance to experience it for myself.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons user Prasanaik. Image credit: Wikimedia commons user Prasanaik.

6.) Jog Falls environs, India. While most of India's primeval forest has changed dramatically thanks to human intervention, North Sentinel Island is not exactly on the list of places where I think I'd be welcomed. Jog Falls, on the other hand, is the largest waterfall in India, shown here during monsoon season, at its most spectacular! The entire western region of India is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the world, and I'd love the chance to walk through the forested areas here.

Image credit: flickr user Fordan, a.k.a. Bob Snyder. Image credit: flickr user Fordan, a.k.a. Bob Snyder.

5.) Daintree Rainforest, Australia. The oldest surviving rainforest in the world, Daintree is among the most biodiverse regions in the world as far as plants, marsupials, insects and spiders are concerned. How could you not be intrigued?

Image credit: Andy Linden (flickr user andylinden). Image credit: Andy Linden (flickr user andylinden).

4.) Black Forest, Germany. Called "black" by the Romans because of how the dense conifers so successfully block out the Sun, even during the daytime, the black forest is dotted with lakes that formed from the melt at the end of the last ice age. The black forest contains eight of the highest mountains in Europe mountain peaks over 1,000 meters in elevation (thank you, Lassi @2), and is home to unique animals found nowhere else, such as the giant earthworm. Pretty cool!

Image credit: Copyright 2002 - 2011 BrotherSoft.com. Image credit: Copyright 2002 - 2011 BrotherSoft.com.

3.) Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China. I mean, just look at that picture, will you? Both an UNESCO world heritage site and a world biosphere reserve, this valley on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau is full of colorful lakes, multiple waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, and of course, beautiful primeval forests. 30 years ago, only 5,000 tourists visited this region each year; now that number is well in excess of a million. And even though I know that increased human traffic means that keeping the site pristine takes more and more effort, I still want to see this for myself.

Image credit: Martin Hertel, National Geographic's "Your Shot". Image credit: Martin Hertel, National Geographic's "Your Shot".

2.) Beech Forest, GermanyNot so much a single "place" as it is a collection of forest sites across many different nations, this is another UNESCO world heritage site. Dominated by Beech trees, they form an impressive canopy even in the winter, as this photo by Martin Hertel elegantly shows.

And finally...

Image credit, Yuya Horikawa of http://500px.com/photo/9349539. Image credit, Yuya Horikawa of http://500px.com/photo/9349539.

1.) Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan. I've never seen a forest like this before, and I didn't learn about it until years after I was in Japan. How was I to know that I was only a few miles (kilometers) away from this wonder when I spent time in Kyoto? The entire district of Arashiyama looks beautiful, but the great bamboo forest is surely the great highlight!

And that's a wonderful collection of my top 10 forests that I'd love to visit, someday. Hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to comment on these choices, as well as to share any others that have connected with you!

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Great list. I'd like to visit most of them - what the hell! - all of them myself.
You have Polish Crooked Forest on the list. I thing you should also consider Polish-Belarusian the Bialowieza Forest. It's one of the last (if not the last) ancient, primordial woodlands in Europe.

By The Bad Wolf (not verified) on 11 May 2013 #permalink

"The black forest contains eight of the highest mountains in Europe"

No. The highest peak in the Black Forest (Feldberg) is only 1.5km, while the near by Alps have 22 peaks above 4km. The highest mountain in Europe (Elbrus in Caucasus) rises to 5,642 m.

By Lassi Hippeläinen (not verified) on 11 May 2013 #permalink

The Daintree is one of my favorite tropical forests. It's one of the few places where rainforest and coral reef meet. But don't go dangling your feet in the Daintree river - saltwater crocs.

By The Phytophactor (not verified) on 12 May 2013 #permalink

hey folks, what about Siberian Taiga?

By Egor Zadereev (not verified) on 12 May 2013 #permalink

Isn't there a 10,000 year old Birch Tree forest somewhere? Ive seen pictures but can't recall it's locarion.

By Paul Kestyn (not verified) on 12 May 2013 #permalink

I've been in South American rainforests a number of time. In a way they are disappointing on first viewing. There is just a bunch of tree trunks and a few vines, fairly bare soil, and not much else to see. If you know something about the plants, you see diversity, and if you are there long enough you see parts of the animal diversity, and realize how much there is.

It is not like a coral reef where, on your first dive, there is so much color and motion that you don't understand what you are seeing and are overwhemed for a little bit, until you start to sort out the individual things.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 12 May 2013 #permalink

I am sure you'd definitely love to visit the Plitvice Lakes and the forrest surrounding them: http%3A%2F%2Fbeautifulplacestovisit.com%2Flakes%2Fplitvice-lakes-national-park-croatia%2F&ei=AoCQUbjoO-ak4gTAhYGQCg&psig=AFQjCNFt9rGGbHrMiaxYrRlp0x5fPUNZiw&ust=1368510851074027

I visited Manaus once, and I got to see a small portion of the Amazon rainforest while I was there. Manaus is a city of about two million in the middle of the Amazon basin (it's the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas), and there are forested areas within 10 km of the city center (particularly on the other side of the Amazon and Negro rivers). But there are no bridges over these rivers in the area (though there has been talk of building a bridge over the Amazon to link Manaus to points south), so unless you take the bus from Venezuela, you have to take either a boat or a plane to get there.

If you go to Manaus, be sure to see the Meeting of the Waters: the Negro, one of the biggest tributaries of the Amazon, joins the latter just downstream of Manaus, and for several kilometers you can see the turbulent boundary layer where the waters mix. The Solimões (upper Amazon) carries much sediment, giving its water a yellow-brown appearance, while the Negro has hardly any sediment (hence the name, which is Portuguese/Spanish for "black"). You may recall the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability from your fluid mechanics class; this is a real-life example.

The area around Manaus is also a testament to the power of Nature to heal itself if left alone. Less than a hundred years ago the surrounding area was mostly rubber plantations, which made Manaus one of the richest cities per capita in the world. (Thus the fabulous Opera House which is another of the tourist musts in Manaus.) Once synthetic rubber was invented, the plantations were abandoned, and today much of that land is heavily forested.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

Don't forget the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State in the US. More than 200 inches of rain a year, spectacular moss and Banana slugs!

I appreciated the musical accompaniment! What an enjoyable, relaxing, creativity-enhancing post! Thank you!

Thanks for the wonderful list, Ethan. I've only been to Redwoods out of these (all the parks there are beautiful, you should definitely go sometime) but they all look spectacular.

I'll second the Hoh Rainforest, for sure (or even the whole of Olympic National Park, since all the forests there are great). Walking along that trail in the summer, and getting to see the early morning fog part and reveal Mt. Olympus through the towering moss-draped trees, was one of the most sublime experiences I've ever had.

The Crooked Forest in Poland reminded me of some planted timber stands here in Florida. The shape is likely the result of damage by high winds (or an ice storm in Poland) a few years after planting.

Picking a favorite forest is like choosing your favorite note on a piano - very difficult and they all work together to create beautiful harmony.

By Daddy Dave (not verified) on 03 Jul 2013 #permalink

U must visit India. THE HIMALYAN forest cover..
U will increase the countdown 11..

Mighty HIMALYAS , on top..

By dodo sharma (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

Good choices.

thats awesome

i like Germany forest i want see but i have no money but i believe to my God i will see the all over world very soon

wah,what a nice forests.i am astonished.day to day forests are reducing by the public.so i am verysorry.the people are not thinking about future.i request to world people,please save forests,save wild life,save environment,so world will be save.thanks to all.

By Pradipta Kumar… (not verified) on 19 Sep 2013 #permalink

i like calfornia forest it is very nice forest this site has very deficult

By arvind kumar p… (not verified) on 30 Sep 2013 #permalink

All The Forest is God !

By Mukesh H. Barewar (not verified) on 01 Oct 2013 #permalink

These are the heaven of the earth

By Manju saini (not verified) on 27 Oct 2013 #permalink

No Sherwood Forest ???

By Joseph C. Vara III (not verified) on 12 Nov 2013 #permalink

I have being in a few forest all are special in the US, Belize and Mexico,if you see one you are hook the beauty is incomparable to any thing you have seeing

By Julian Chan (not verified) on 27 Jan 2014 #permalink

I agree with the Bamboo forest, I think Bamboo is the most awsome material ever.

That forest, one word: 'Legendary'

By quint van houtum (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

Nice list, but u must have on it larggest forest (joungle) in Europe, called Perućica in Republic of Serbska in Bosnia and Hezegovina. Bye ;)

By joungle boy (not verified) on 22 Mar 2014 #permalink

I went to amarkantak thrice but still I want to go to amarkantak now too.

By JITOVRARTO CHA… (not verified) on 17 May 2014 #permalink

It's so nice. Really it't so beautiful. Our earth is so nice!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Kanchan.bd (not verified) on 22 Jul 2014 #permalink

So beautiful place in the world .I love Natural place