Types of Forests

Types of Forests

Forests types are ‘category of forest defined concerning its geographical location, climatic and edaphic features, composition and condition.’ Champion and Seth define it as ‘a unit of vegetation which possesses (broad) characteristics in physiognomy and structure sufficiently pronounced to permit of its differentiation from other such groups. This is irrespective of physiographic, edaphic or biotic factors. It is selected in the first place subjectively from the ever-varying cover of vegetation, with boundaries arbitrarily imposed on what are in fact gradual changes.

Object of classification (Forest types)

The primary objective of classification of forests into forest types is to find out correct silvicultural techniques and management practices for development of the woods. These methods and practices cannot have universal application because forests vary from place to place. Therefore it becomes necessary to classify the forests into forests types, so that suitable silvicultural techniques and management practices may be evolved for each kind to be applied to similar classes in the field.

Bases of Classification

The forests classified into forest types by

Types of forest by Physiognomy

Physiognomy means the general appearance of forest community and, therefore, forms a smooth basis for rough differentiation of extensive classes. Dominant growth form describes it (e.g., trees, shrubs, grasses, etc.), the seasonal changes (e.g., evergreen and deciduous habit) and such other features as may be associated with very dry or very wet sites.

By Structure

Structure of a forest is described by stratification (i.e., the way in which different species are aligned in various layers of the forest) and dimensions of trees including height and spacing. It is observed that more favorable site to tree growth the higher is the number of strata and the less desirable the location, the lesser is the number of levels in which the forest is divided. Therefore, structure stratification gives the excellent basis for classifying forest types.

Types by Function

Function refers to the most common morphological characters of the species such as leaf characters, leaf size, stem and root characters, e.g., buttress formation, development of stilt roots, etc., which form the basis of classification.

By Floristics

Floristics refers to the species present in a particular forest. While this forms an essential foundation for delimiting a forest type, there is a significant difference of opinion as to whether the frequency of the species should be used as a basis or not. However, this can be used to distinguish subtypes.

On the basis of Dynamics

As a result of interaction between vegetation and the site, there is continual change between the two. This results in succession and development of climate communities. Though the general view favors Whittaker’s theory of vegetational gradients, it is convenient for the time being to classify the relatively stable types as a climax, those still developing as seral, the stable community resulting from the particular soil peculiarities as the edaphic climax and that resulting from the biotic interference as a biotic climax.


Habitat refers to the effective environmental conditions in which a forest community exists. Thus, climate and edaphic factors often form the basis of classifying forest vegetation.

According to Physiography

Physiography refers to the natural features of the earth surface. As it modifies the microclimate and results in different vegetation occurring in the same climate on various aspects of the hill slope, it forms a reasonable basis for classifying vegetation.

Types of forest by History

History refers to past biotic influences on a site and its vegetation. Though these are very important in determining the present condition and future potentialities in vegetational communities, it often difficult to assess these factors correctly.

System of classification

The environment has the most profound influence on vegetation which not only grows and develops in its context but remains in equilibrium with it. Therefore, the system of classification of plant can be either;

i) Botanical, i.e., based mainly on vegetation

ii) climatic, i.e., based primarily on climate

iii) Ecological, i.e., based mainly on ecosystem consisting of vegetation-environment complex.

Classification based mainly on vegetation

The Classification based primarily on vegetation is made by the study of plant communities. This system of classification considers vegetation presence, its structure, composition, dynamics, etc. E.g., Fosberg and Webb classification of forests

Climatic Classification of Forests

This classification is mainly based on the temperature in association with or without other factors. e.g., Schimper classification, Koppen classification, Paterson classification and Thornthwaite classification.

Ecological Classification of Forest

This system considers climate and vegetation. This is most widely accepted one, e.g., Gaussian Classification, Champion and Seth classification.

According to the WWF major types of forest are

  1. Tropical Forest
  2. Sub-tropical Forest
  3. Temperate Forest
  4. Mediterranean
  5. Coniferous Forest
  6. Montane Forest

Types of Forest in India

  1. Tropical Wet Evergreen Forest
  2. Tropical Semi-evergreen forests
  3. Tropical moist deciduous Forest
  4. Littoral and Swamp forest
  5. Tropical dry deciduous forest
  6. Tropical Thorn Forest
  7. Tropical dry evergreen forest
  8. Subtropical broad leaved hill forest
  9. Subtropical pine forest
  10. Subtropical dry evergreen forest
  11. Montane wet temperate forest
  12. Himalayan moist temperate forest
  13. Himalayan dry temperate forest
  14. Subalpine forest
  15. Moist alpine
  16. Dry alpine scrub

Also, Read Forest management


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