FOREST HABITAT A forest (forestry) is an extensive community of plants dominated by tall trees. These trees are of different species and heights.

A forest habitat refers to an ecological community or environment dominated by trees, shrubs, and other woody vegetation. Forests are complex and diverse ecosystems that play a crucial role in supporting biodiversity and providing various ecological services. There are different types of forests found across the world, each with its unique characteristics and species composition.

Key features of a forest habitat include:

  1. Vegetation: Forests are primarily characterized by their dense vegetation, consisting mainly of trees. The tree canopy provides shade and shelter for numerous plant and animal species.
  2. Biodiversity: Forests are incredibly biodiverse, housing a wide range of plant and animal species. They provide habitat for countless insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as a diverse array of plant life, including mosses, ferns, flowers, and trees.
  3. Canopy Layers: Forests typically have multiple layers or strata within their vegetation. These layers include the forest floor (with leaf litter and detritus), the understory (smaller plants and saplings), the canopy (mature trees forming a dense overhead covering), and occasionally an emergent layer (the tallest trees that rise above the main canopy).
  4. Climate Regulation: Forests play a vital role in regulating the local and global climate. They absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, helping to mitigate the greenhouse effect and climate change. Forests also influence rainfall patterns and act as a buffer against extreme weather events.
  5. Water Resources: Forests play a crucial role in maintaining water quality and regulating water flow. They act as natural filters, reducing sediment and pollutants from entering water bodies and contributing to groundwater recharge.
  6. Erosion Control: The root systems of trees help prevent soil erosion by stabilizing the soil and reducing the impact of heavy rainfall on the forest floor.
  7. Economic and Cultural Importance: Forests have significant economic value, providing timber, wood products, and other forest resources that support industries and local communities. They are also culturally significant, often holding spiritual and traditional importance for indigenous peoples and local cultures.

It’s important to note that forests around the world face various threats, including deforestation, habitat destruction, climate change, and invasive species. Conservation efforts are essential to preserve these critical habitats and the biodiversity they support.

The distribution of forests is mainly determined by climate, especially rainfall and temperature. The rainforest is the dominant forest in Nigeria.


presence of broad leaves: most trees in rain forest usually possess broad leaves which enable the plants to receive abundant light and enhance transpiration.

presence of buttress roots: most trees because of their large sizes often have buttress roots to support their heavy weight and height. presence of tall trees: the bulk of the trees in the rain forest are tall. Some are even 40 metres and above in height.

Existence of canopies: the trees in the rainforest are shaped in such a way as to form canopies.

5. Trees exist in layers or storeys: the trees in rain forest are zoned or stratified in such a way that they are arranged in layers or canopies, i.e. upper layers, middle layers, and lower layers.

presence of fallen leaves on the ground: the forest is characterized by the flooring of the ground with lots of leaves as litres which in turn increases the presence of manure  trees have thin bark: most of the trees have thin bark to enhance gaseous exchange and transpiration

CHARACTERISTICS OF presence of epiphytes: the rain forest is also characterized by the presence of climbers and epiphytes on the trees which possess aerial roots for moisture absorption and respiration.


The rainforest vegetation has plants which are naturally arranged in layers, strata or storeys, there are about five storeys in the forest. These are:

characteristics of the upper layer of the forest: the upper layer or storey is made up of the tallest trees of over 40 metres tall. These trees are called emergents. The crown of the emergents does not normally

  1. touch each other. Examples of plants in this category are iroko, obeche, mahogany, African walnut, ebony etc.

characteristics of the middle layer of the forest: the second layer in the rainforest is made up of tall trees of about 16-40 metres tall. Their crown touches each other, thereby forming a continuous canopy below the emergent. read more about deforestation here

characteristics of the lower layer of the forest: this is the third layer which is made up of small trees, less than 16m tall. They also form a continuous canopy below the middle storey.

characteristics of the shrub layer: this layer is made up of small trees, 1-5 metres in height. These are essentially small trees collectively referred to as shrubs.

characteristics of the ground layer or forest floor: this contains wet and shade-loving plants which grow on the floor of the forest. These plants hardly receive sunlight due to canopies formed by bigger plants. Most plants are bryophytes and they include mosses, liverworts lichens and thin-leaved ferns.


Varieties of plants exist in the forest. Popular examples of forest trees are African walnut, mahogany (khaya ivorensis), teak (tectonia grandis), opepe (Sarcocephalus), obeche (Triplochiton), iroko (chlorophora), oil palm (Elaeis guinensis), ferns, orchids, lianas, mosses, lichens, liverwort, fungi, and mistletoe.

Adaptive features of plants in a forest habitat
  1. Iroko and mahogany: these plants have strong tap root systems and buttress roots which aid anchorage and support for the weight of the plants.
  2. African walnut: these plants have broad leaves which aid transpiration and photosynthesis.
  3. Obeche: these plants have a tap root system and large buttress roots for support as well as broad leaves to aid photosynthetic activities.
  4. Orchids: these are epiphytes which have mechanisms for storing water and absorbing moisture from air while growing on tree branches.
  5. Mistletoe: these are complete plant parasites capable of developing root systems that can penetrate the stem of a plant and feed directly from manufactured food by placing their roots on the phloem vessels of the host plants.
Distribution of animals in a forest habitat

Most animals in the forest live on trees (i.e. they are arboreal animals). The animals include bats, monkeys, snakes, squirrels, birds, lizards

, tree frogs, and chameleons. Some animals like earthworms and beetles live in the soil while some live among the litter on the ground, e.g. millipedes, ants and snails.

adaptive features of animals in a forest habitat

  1. Monkeys: monkeys have prehensile tails and long limbs for climbing trees and jumping from one tree branch to another.
  2. Bats: bats have a way in which the forelimbs and the hind limbs are joined on each side of the body by a fold of skin-  to form wings used for flight.
  3. Green snakes: these snakes have protective colouration on their skin which makes it difficult to be detected by their enemies. They also have a slim elongated body with grasping scales for winding around tree branches.
  4. Chameleon: it has a prehensile tail and opposable digits for grasping. it also has protective colouration to camouflage or disguise itself from predators.
  5. Apes: apes move in groups or herds to protect themselves from predators. They also have a high sense of sight to detect enemies.
  6. Earthworm and snails: they have water permeable cuticle which reduces water loss and prevent drying up.
  7. Birds: birds have powerful wings used for flying.

general adaptive features of animals that climb rainforest trees

a. There is the presence of prehensile tails
b. They have opposable digits e.g. monkeys
c. They possess sticky adhesive discs on fingers e.g. geckos
d. They possess grasping scales e.g. snakes
e. They have grasping pads e.g. tree frogs
f. They have long, sharp claws for climbing e.g. squirrels

importance of water to rainforest

  1. It is essential for photosynthesis
  2. It helps to maintain the body temperature of organisms
  3. It is essential for plant turgidity/mechanical support
  4. It helps in the metabolism of organisms
  5. It provides the moisture necessary for microbial activity
  6. It provides the moisture necessary for burrowing animals
  7. It is also essential for translocation and transpiration
  8. It is also essential for the movement and survival of aquatic animals
  9. It is important for plant and animal growth or germination of seeds.

food chain in a forest habitat

The forest has numerous plants and animals which can easily form several food chains. Examples of food chains in a forest habitat are:
1. Green plants==grasshoppers==toads==hawks
2. Green plants==caterpillars==lizards==snakes

  1. Green plants==monkeys==lions

factors affecting the Forest

Climatic factors which affect the rainforest include rainfall, temperature, wind, relative humidity, sunlight etc. Rainfall and temperature are dominant factors that affect the rainforest. High rainfall and temperature give rise to luxuriant rainforest vegetation.

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