Coniferous (Boreal) Woodlands

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Coniferous (Boreal) Woodlands

Climate: The temperature in the summer varies between 12 and 18°C, with temperatures falling below freezing for the winter months. In the most Northernly forests, or thoseat the highest latitude, the temperature can remain below freezing for upto 6 months.

Rainfall is low, with the majority falling in the summer. Snow can be expected in the winter months. The total precipitation amount will be approximately 500mm. Long summer days mean that the growing season, although short, can be productive.


Soils: The main soil found in coniferous forests is called a PODSOL. This has a thin top layer of organic material, and is a very acidic soil.

Snowmelt and summer rainwater leach the minerals in the soil, meaning that they are washed deeper into the soil, thus making it less fertile. The leached minerals, such as iron, concentrate in the B Horizon of the soil creating a hard pan. The acidic soil means that there are very few earthworms, which are very useful for mixing the soil.

Vegetation: Coniferous trees are evergreen, meaning that they have leaves all year round, and therefore canal ways photosynthesise.

All the trees of a coniferous woodland, such as firand pine, are very similar in shape. They are conical shaped, which allows snow to easily slide off them. The leaves are actually needles, which are the most efficient leaf for these trees. The needles allow very little waterloss by transpiration, which is particularly important in the relatively dry winter months.

The trees of coniferous woodland are often of only one species, and pack quite tightly together; meaning little light reaches the forest floor. Consequently there is little vegetation below the trees.

Coniferous trees are softwoods, and grow quickly compared to deciduous trees. For this reason they are extensivelyused as timber and for paper making. Managed forestry of coniferous area is increasingly becoming a viable economic activity, although you have to wait a number of years until the trees are ready to be sold.