Thursday, March 21, 2013

7 Unique Forests of the World

A forest is an area with a high density of trees. Forests 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 addition to the large number of forests that are well-known tourist destinations in the world, there are also small and very unusual forests which are less well known to the general public.

1. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar
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The Avenue of the Baobabs is a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Its striking landscape draws travelers from around the world, making it one of the most visited locations in the region. It has been a center of local conservation efforts, and was granted temporary protected status in July 2007 by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests, the first step toward making it Madagascar's first natural monument.
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Along the Avenue are about a dozen trees about 30 m (98 ft) in height, of the species Adansonia grandidieri, endemic to Madagascar. Baobab trees, up to 800 years old, are a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar.
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The trees did not originally tower in isolation over the sere landscape of scrub but stood in dense forest. Over the years, as the country's population grew, the forests were cleared for agriculture, leaving only the baobab trees, which the locals preserved as much in respect as for their value as a food source and building material. [linkmap]

2. Sunken Forest of Lake Kaindy, Kazakhstan
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Kazakhstan's Lake Kaindy is one of a kind. Located 2,000 meters (6,560ft) above sea level, this 400 metre-long (1,300ft) lake reaches depths approaching 30 metres (100ft) in some places. What makes this body of water truly remarkable, however, are the tall, dried-out trunks of submerged Schrenk's Spruce trees that rise above the water's surface from the bottom of the lake like the masts of mysterious sunken ships.
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In the winter months, Kaindy freezes over, but this doesn't deter some brave souls. Ice divers are drawn to the freezing waters, captivated by the sight of tree trunks encased in a sheet of ice and the strange beauty of the underwater world hidden beneath.
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During the summer, Kaindy could hardly offer a more contrasting picture, its waters a warm shade of green and turquoise.
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Lake Kaindy is very young, geologically speaking, having only been born last century. It was created due to an enormous limestone landslide. Water flooded the resulting basin and the natural rocky embankment that formed in the middle of the lake partitioned it with a natural dam. Not yet decayed, the drowned trees rise out of the cold waters, offering a refuge for tired swimmers. [linkmap]

3. Deadvlei Forest, Namibia
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Deadvlei is a magic place near the famous salt pan of Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft Park of Namibia. The place is surrounded by some of the tallest dunes in the world, reaching up to 400m (1,300ft) in elevation. These dunes have nicknames like “Big Daddy”.
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This place is a clay pan just like Sossusvlei. The clay pan was formed due to flooding by the Tsauchab river after heavy rainfalls. When the climate changed 900 years ago, these rainfalls stopped and the area dried up, Sand dunes encroached on the pan, which blocked the river entirely from entering the area.
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The trees, now over a 1000 years old (it is believed they were living for some 200 years before the climate shifted again), form a barren forest of ancient lifeless trees, frozen much as they were some 900 years ago. [link1link2map]

4. Crooked Forest, Poland
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The Crooked Forest is a grove of oddly-shaped pine trees located outside Nowe Czarnowo, West Pomerania, Poland.
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This grove of approximately 400 pines was planted around 1930, when its location was still within the German province of Pomerania.
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It is generally believed that some form of human tool or technique was used to make the trees grow this way, but the method and motive are not currently known. [link, map]

5. Wild Apple Forest, Kazakhstan
Apple-forested ridgetop in Zailisky Alatau  link
Before Carl Frederich von Ledebour (German-Estonian botanist) happened upon this incredible apple forest in the early 1830s, it was unknown to the Western world. It lies deep within a mountain range in what is now Kazakhstan.  In the midst of the forest is the bustling city of Almaty (meaning "fatherland of apples" in Kazakh). The location has both its good points and bad points as far as the fate of the forest is concerned: good, because the proximity of the growing city has allowed scientists to access to the forest, which in the past was remote and almost inaccessible; bad, because the city is encroaching on the forest as land is cleared for high-rises and vacation homes.
Wild apples from fatherland of apples  link
The genetic diversity of apples in this forest is astounding. The apples also come in a variety of sizes and colors. In size, they range from that of marbles to that of large dessert apples. There are solid reds, yellows, mottled russets, bicolors, and solid greens. Some wear a shiny coat, others are dull and rough-skinned. Amazingly, none of these varieties is subject to damage by disease or insects. Many varieties look as if they had come right off a grocer's shelf.  Total area of this forest is about 560 hectares. [linkmap]

6. The Great Banyan, India
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The Great Banyan is a banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) located in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah, near Kolkata, India. It was the widest tree in the world in terms of the area of the canopy and is estimated to be about 200 to 250 years old.
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It became diseased after it was struck by lightning, so in 1925 the middle of the tree was excised to keep the remainder healthy; this has left it as a clonal colony, rather than a single tree. A 330 metre (1,080ft) long road was built around its circumference, but the tree continues to spread beyond it.
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The Great Banyan tree is over 250 years old and in spread it is the largest known in India, perhaps in Asia. There is no clear history of the tree, but it is mentioned in some travel books of the nineteenth century. It was damaged by two great cyclones in 1884 and 1886, when some of its main branches were broken and exposed to the attack of a hard fungus. With its large number of aerial roots, The Great Banyan looks more like a forest than an individual tree.
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The tree now lives without its main trunk, which decayed and was removed in 1925. The circumference of the original trunk was 1.7 m (5.6ft) and from the ground was 15.7 m (51.5ft). The area occupied by the tree is about 14500 square metres (about 1.5 hectares or 4 acres). The present crown of the tree has a circumference of about 1 kilometre (0.6mi) and the highest branch rises to about 25 m (82ft); it has at present 3300 aerial roots reaching down to the ground. [link, map]

7. Lemonodasos, Greece
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The Lemon Tree Forest or Lemonodasos, one of the many tourist attractions in Poros, Kefalonia Island, has been the inspiration for many poets and authors. Diagonally across from the center of Poros, the Lemon Tree Forest lies on the mountainside of "Aderes," and it is a forest of wild lemon.
The Lemon Tree Forest on the island of Kefalonia   link
This a dense forest exclusively of lemon trees, is not too far from one of the most beautiful beaches in the surrounding area (Aliki Beach). As the visitor approaches the forest he/she is overcome by the strong and refreshing smell of the lemon trees. Also the lemon forest have a lot of natural little water sources. [link, map]
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