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Haus der Natur

Precious treasures - Forests around the world

Not all forests are the same. Depending on their geographical location and the temperature, precipitation, altitude and soil type, very different forests can develop. This map of the world shows a classification based on the earth's climate zones.

Forests are of inestimable value: for the biodiversity of our planet, for drinking water and clean air, for protection against storms, noise, floods and avalanches, as well as for supplying energy and raw materials. Wood is only the most obvious example. Numerous active medical ingredients and even erasers, footballs and brushes are made from materials from the forest.

Around a third of the land on Earth is still covered with forests, but large areas are lost year after year. The remaining forests are at risk from increasing destruction or overexploitation. The main problems are illegal logging, unsustainable forest management, the conversion of forest areas into pastures, farmland and plantations; or into roads, residential and industrial areas. Furthermore, environmental pollution and climate change will have an increasing impact in the future.

Is it possible to use the forest in such a way that its functions can be preserved permanently for people, nature and the climate?

If you want to know more about forests and the products we use every day ...

Since 2011 the German Forest Protection Association (SDW) has been carrying out its "SOKO Wald" educational project in schools throughout Germany free of charge. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Why not participate in the interactive rally about forests and forest products!

Different kinds of forests

  • Boreal forests: Coniferous forests growing in the cold temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, also known as taiga. Seasons change from extremely cold winters to warm summers.

  • Temperate zone forests: Mixed forests in the temperate zone. Seasonal changes  with moderate temperatures in both winter and summer.

  • Subtropical forests: Daytime climate with high temperatures in summer and moderate temperatures in winter. No change of seasons, but changes between dry and rainy seasons.

  • Tropical Forests: Daytime climate with high temperature and humidity throughout the year. No change of seasons, but changes between dry and rainy seasons.

by the way ...

...the word forest is often used in connection with tropical forests. But it actually refers to forests that have largely developed without human influence - regardless of whether they are in Africa, Asia or Europe.


  • Chestnuts: Sweet chestnut trees, related to beech and oak trees - but NOT to native horse chestnut trees - supply delicious chestnuts. Some of these trees can also be found in the forest here on the slopes of the Venusberg.

  • Rubber: Rubber trees come from the tropical rainforest of South America. Their milky juice was extracted and used there more than 3,000 years ago. To this day, the method of extraction has not changed: As soon as a tree is 5 to 6 years old, it is incised spirally to allow the white sap to emerge and be collected. Natural rubber, also known as latex, is water-repellent and highly flexible. It is used in many products such as tires, tubes, erasers and gloves. Due to continuously increasing demand, it has also been cultivated in Southeast Asia for many decades. That said, large areas of rainforest have been cleared to make way for rubber plantations.
  • Wild honey: Aphids and other insects that feed on sap from trees like spruces, pines, firs and sweet chestnuts, excrete honeydew. Bees collect this sugary liquid and use it to make wild honey. When we buy honey from our local region, we contribute to biodiversity in the area. The best thing to do is to find a beekeeper nearby. A jar of honey sold in supermarkets often contains honey from a number of distant countries, and this is stated on the label. Have you discovered the colony of bees here in the exhibition?

  • Wood: Oak, spruce, pine, cherry, maple and especially beech trees, provide us with the raw material, wood. It is used as a building material, an energy source and for manufacturing many different articles. Sign-labels like PEFC and FSC show that the wood comes from sustainable, careful forest management.

  • Cashew nuts: The nuts from cashew trees, originally from Brazil, are cracked by hand. The toxic oil in the shells can lead to serious skin injuries. But this is rendered harmless by heating them beforehand.

  • Chewing gum: If you scratch the bark of sapodilla trees, white sap will seep out. Cooking it produces a tough, rubber-like chicle that can be processed into things like chewing gum. The trees need 6 to 7 years of rest until they can be harvested again.