Forests and jungles are lands with trees, wildlife, and vegetation (plant life). So, what is the big deal if people use those terms interchangeably? After all, jungles are a type of forest. While that is a legitimate question, jungles have come to mean something slightly different from forests. The word jungle immediately conjures up the image of a dangerous region where only the fittest survive. This element of danger is what sets jungles apart from forests in most people’s minds; however, in reality, the jungles are not significantly different from a typical forest.
The sunlight finds it challenging to penetrate the jungles, as they are denser than the other types of forests. Moreover, jungles are mostly found in regions near the equator. Yes, they can be dangerous (as shown in the movie Jungle Cruise. Of course, Frank Wolff faked the dangers, but the general idea holds true.). Some jungles are so dangerous that entering them without a guide is not wise. However, people suffer mostly because of dehydration or getting lost (very few people are poisoned by a plant or a spider bite in a jungle.).
Forest vs. Jungle
Forests are lands spanning more than half a hectare covered with trees. People can move freely around in them. On the other hand, jungles are dense forests; therefore, people must cut their way through the jungle if they want to move around (like Jackie Chan in the episode Chalice of Life of the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures).
Difference Between Forest And Jungle In Tabular Form
|Parameters of Comparison||Forest||Jungle|
|Size||Forests are larger than jungles.||Jungles are around 20% of a typical forest’s size.|
|Penetrability||Forests are denser than woodlands. However, they are penetrable.||Jungles are tangled and impenetrable.|
|Types||Forests have been classified into several types, such as boreal, temperate, and tropical forests.||Jungles are similar to rainforests, but they do not have scientific classifications.|
|Location||Forests are found in any region where thousands of trees can grow.||Jungles are usually found at the edge of forests.|
|Canopy||Forests have a thicker canopy cover than jungles – around 60 – 100%||Jungles have a lower canopy cover.|
What Is A Forest?
Forests contain eighty percent of the world’s plant biomass. Trees, shrubs, vines, algae, fungi, mammals, amphibians, birds, etc. are abundant in forests. It is this biodiversity that makes forests significant. A forest has multiple layers: the forest floor, understory, and canopy. The forest floor acts as a shelter for insects, as it is covered with fallen leaves and decomposing logs. Leaf litter prevents soil erosion and protects the tree roots from extreme weather conditions; it is broken down into new soil over time.
Bushes, shrubs, and young trees adapted to grow in the shade make up the understory. Canopies are the protective umbrella for the rest of the forest and are made up of intertwined branches. They receive most of the sunlight while the rest of the rays filter through to the understories. In tropical rainforests, another layer called the emergent layer is present. It denotes a few trees that stick above the forest’s canopy. Germany and Poland classify forest layers differently (people can never agree on one concept, can they?).
Types Of Forests
Forests are broadly classified into boreal, temperate, and tropical forests based on latitude.
These forests are found in the northernmost corners of the world (subarctic zone) and, unsurprisingly, are characterized by cold winters. Therefore, they have less diverse flora and fauna compared to the tropical and temperate forests. Conifers, willows, pines, alders, spruce, and fir are some of the predominant trees found in boreal forests. The most interesting animal in these forests is the Boreal caribou (an endangered species). If people brave the cold weather, they may catch sight of it along with a deer or a moose.
However, the native birds migrate to warmer areas in winter (which makes sense; after all, people, too, hate the cold.). The closed-canopy boreal forests have more nutrient-rich soil and greater species diversity than the open-canopy boreal trees (lichen woodlands).
Furthermore, boreal forests contain 60% of the world’s surface freshwater, and scientists believe conserving them can slow down global warming and climatic change. A tree takes years to grow; people cannot afford to lose these forests. Who said only tree huggers need to protect trees? Anyone can do that if they set their heart on it.
Found in North America and Eurasia, these forests experience four seasons. Therefore, the prevalent temperature varies with the seasons. Temperate forests have fertile soils and support the growth of trees such as maple, oak, hickory, and birch. Cute squirrels, dainty deer, and fearsome bears are some of the fauna found in temperate forests.
They even have red wolves – a critically endangered species and spotted owls – an endangered species (it seems like there is no competition. Temperate forests sound like the best forest type to visit.). Temperate forests are classified into temperate deciduous, coniferous, and rainforest. They are incredibly helpful in preventing floods and droughts.
Tropical forests are situated near the equator and have the warmest temperature (68 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Moreover, they receive 394 inches of rain annually. The Amazon Rainforest is an example of a tropical rainforest. Tropical forests may be tropical or subtropical moist, dry, and coniferous forests, evergreen forests, or mangroves (forests with trees adapted to brackish water). Harpy eagles, bonobos (an ape species), and African forest elephants are some of the wildlife found in these forests. However, poaching and deforestation have decreased the chances of people viewing these majestic creatures drastically (wake up people; these animals and birds need help.).
Forest restoration refers to the actions taken to restore forests to their original, lush conditions. Merely planting trees (reforestation) and growing them is not sufficient. The forests’ biodiversity must also be recovered, preserved, and protected. Forests are natural carbon sinks and help reduce global warming. They convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, which is vital for humankind to survive.
Try to remember how good it felt to inhale pure air and hold on to that feeling. Unless people do their part in preserving forests, that is all that feeling will be – a memory and nothing more. However, forest restoration is not possible by civilians alone. It is a collaborative process involving local communities, NGOs, funding agencies, and the government.
What Is A Jungle?
Jungles are stunning to explore with a proper guide. The biodiversity alone is worth dying to see (if people are not careful, they may literally die in some jungles; pardon the pun.). While a jungle may not be as dangerous as shown in movies, it is still worth being cautious when exploring a jungle. Just because people have seen Tarzan and can imitate his cry perfectly does not mean they are ready for the grueling experience of traveling through a jungle.
The jungle’s tangled vegetation distinguishes it from rainforests, which are relatively easy to traverse. Earlier, there was a misconception that forests with jungles on their edges were also impenetrable. Later explorations revealed that the forests were comparatively easy to explore (moral: people mustn’t believe everything they see without investigating further.).
Some of the tame jungles are relaxing to explore and present an opportunity for people to connect with nature. Communing with nature is a great way to de-stress and calm one’s mind. A day away from all the troubles of daily life can work wonders on people’s moods. Of course, they can choose to explore forests that are easier to travel in. But what’s life without a little challenge? Who knows, people might feel the runner’s high with a bit of exploration. However, people must be well prepared for their journey (listening to the song Welcome to the Jungle song on a loop does not count.).
Dangerous Jungles In The World
Realistically speaking, people are not excited to hear about the tamer jungles. So, here are some of the dangerous jungles that truly feel like heaven for adrenaline junkies:
Darien Gap is one of the most dangerous jungles in the world. It extends between Panama and Columbia for a hundred miles. It has anacondas, crocodiles, jaguars, komodo dragons, etc. Name it, and it has it (which begs the question, what does it not have?). It even has a guerilla group that kidnaps and sometimes kills those unfortunate enough to be caught (eeks, hope they do not rise against humans like the apes in The Planet of the Apes). Apart from this, the jungle is deadly because of its unpredictable terrain and absence of trails (sheesh, talk about death traps).
Andharban – the Dark Forest of Pune, Maharashtra, has stunning waterfalls and valleys. The jungle is considered not because of dangerous wildlife but rather the unpredictable weather and the complex trails in which one gets lost easily. Some people have been known to die on the trek (why would anyone want to explore such a jungle? Perhaps one should have been there to understand its appeal.).
Papua New Guinea Jungle
Unfriendly tribal people who cannot care less about outsiders (not every tribe is friendly like the Comanche in the film The Lone Ranger), six-foot-long snakes with paralyzing venom, and cassowaries are just the tip of the iceberg in this jungle. Aggressive white-lipped pythons, creepy flying foxes (a type of bat), harpy eagles, and giant tarantulas (yes, they are similar to Aragog from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) add to the problem.
North Sentinel Island Jungle
This jungle has breathtaking beauty, as most parts of the world untouched by human hustle and bustle are. A word of caution, people should not visit this jungle unless they are on a suicide mission (this jungle is too much to handle, even for thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies). The Sentinelese tribe in this jungle abhor outside contact and protect their territory with passion (they do not care who they kill to do so).
The Amazon rainforest has piranhas in addition to the usual jaguars, snakes, and other dangerous wildlife found in jungles. As if that is not enough, it also has a river dubbed Boiling River that can boil alive anyone or anything that falls into it (Okay, so that jungle is not making the list of places to visit this vacation.).
Hoia Baciu Forest
It is Transylvania’s Bermuda Triangle. (Have a sibling who is a constant source of irritation and frustration? Just send them to Hoia Baciu without letting anyone else know.) People in that region have associated the presence of ghosts and UFOs with the unexplained noises heard from the jungle (perhaps, it is the work of fairies like in the American TV Series Supernatural. Fight the fairies, Sammy!).
Main Difference Between Forest And Jungle (In Points)
- The term forest is well-used in the scientific community. However, scientists do not use the term jungle, as they consider it a colloquial term that indicates a tropical forest.
- Jungles have a much more diverse vegetation than forests, even though the latter are larger. On the other hand, forests have more number of trees belonging to the same species than jungles.
- The term forest originated from the Old French word forès (meaning vast expanse covered with trees), whereas the term jungle originated from the Sanskrit word jaá¹…gala.
- Most people consider jungles more dangerous than forests (to be honest, no one who watched Jumanji would think otherwise.).
- Forests are less humid compared to jungles.
Ultimately, all jungles are forests, but they differ from the other types in several ways. Forests and jungles have equal significance and must be conserved at all costs. Sure, the fauna may not have creatures as majestic as the mythical creatures people grew up hearing about. However, they are still unique and worth saving. Indigenous groups of people who live in forests depend on the native flora for their livelihood.
They are not the only ones who benefit from forests and jungles. Even city dwellers need oxygen, fuel, and food. So, people have no choice but to think seriously about the destruction deforestation and poaching are causing. Remember, there will be no bonfire or campfire to sit around and bond with friends (an age-old tradition that still has a profound effect) if there is no firewood left.