My One True Love (or the hidden gem that is the temperate deciduous woodland) / by The Green Medium

 Imagine you are surrounded by trees. It's July, and the canopy is a vibrant green. You notice a small salamander crawling by your shoes. In October, the landscape transforms into a mix of red, yellow, and orange. A soft blanket of white snow arrives as Winter reveals itself. And Spring! Oh spring, with new buds and flowers it shines its face. Where are you? Well I couldn't give you a specific geographical location, but what I could say is that you are in something called a temperate deciduous forest. I would be telling the truth if I told you that I have a soft spot for this wondrous biome. I don't really know why. Maybe it's the array of broadleaf trees. The oaks, the elms, Chestnuts, Maples, Beeches, Hickory, Azalea bushes, dogwood bushes, George W bushes. Anyway, the reasons don't particularly matter. You see, I notice that people often talk about saving the rainforest. Listen, believe me, I love the rainforests. I can promise you that. They're tremendous, extraordinary places with extremely high levels of biodiversity. They should be protected and fought for. However, there are other important biomes that deserve some attention, including the deciduous forests.

If I picked up a map right now, who would be able to point to the temperate deciduous biome regions? Maybe everyone who has completed Science 10, but other than that probably not many. These forests can be found throughout Eastern North America, Europe, New Zealand, Northeastern China, Japan, Russia, and some more spots as well. This biome is seasonal, and we all know that variety is the spice of life, so that's nice. Importantly, deciduous woods contain a large variety of plant, animal, fungal, and other species. Some of the planets most biodiverse regions are in the temperate deciduous biome.


As you have probably realized at this point, I haven't really brought up any issues. That's because there aren't any. Well no, that is entirely false. The reality is that most of the world's old growth deciduous woods have been decimated. This biome has been subject to extensive urbanization and agriculture throughout history. Take a minute to think about this. The following places are all located in the temperate deciduous: New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, the rest of New England and the Eastern USA, the majority of Europe, and Scranton Pennsylvania. Now to be fair, there are some heavily urbanized regions in other biomes such as the tropical and temperate rainforest (not to mention the complete destruction of natural grasslands across the globe); I'm just focusing on the deciduous for now. So why have these forests been damaged so much over time? Perhaps partly because of the agreeable climate, but perhaps more importantly because of the fertile soil. Humans have converted deciduous forests into farmlands galore.

So why should temperate deciduous forests be preserved as much as possible? There are multiple reasons, but for now I want to focus on the issue of endangered species. As was previously mentioned, these forests on high in biodiversity, with plants, fungi, animals, and other organisms making up the rich biota. Deforestation obviously kills plant life, but also destroys the habitats of many animal species. Two examples of these animals are the Amur Tiger and Amur Leopard. Both are endangered, with the Leopard considered to be critically endangered. Both of these large cats can be found in the temperate forests of the Russian far East, close to Korea and China. In the case of the Leopard, there are approximately 60 or so wild individuals remaining. While this seems minuscule, the good news is that this is twice the number counted 8 years before. As would make sense, habitat loss is one of the major threats to both the tiger and the leopard. Major causes of this loss include logging and agriculture.


Now, this stuff can seem a bit gloomy, but it's good to see things as they are. The internet is a fantastic tool. I looked on the World Wildlife Organization's website and was able to read about the Amur tiger and leopard. There is a lot of information to be found, work being done by various groups, and opportunities to contribute in some way. However, sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to experience it yourself. To truly care about an issue as a human being, one often needs the issue to become present and personal. For instance, I am most environmentally thoughtful while I'm taking a stroll through the woods. So what I would suggest to you is the following: find your temperate deciduous forest. If enough people on the earth did that, well then I think there would be some freaking serious change.

Haley Out.