Why Is the Taiga Biome Important to the World?

The taiga, or boreal forest, biome is important to the world because it comprises 38 percent of the world's total forest area and greatly affects the planet's heat absorption and carbon cycling. The taiga marks the northernmost point at which agriculture on any large scale is possible.

The taiga is a group of mostly coniferous forests that cover the northern latitudes in most of the far north. The boreal region in which taiga appears constitutes 17 percent of the land area on Earth. It is one of the most intact plant habitats on earth, despite the conversion of some areas for human use.

The taiga's northernmost border is shared with tundra, which tends to be relatively smooth and covered in snow, and reflects a large amount of incoming solar energy back into space. By contrast, the taiga is rough and dark in color, and absorbs a large amount of solar energy, converting a sizeable proportion of it into heat. The substantial number of plants in the taiga absorb and trap a large amount of atmospheric carbon, while the decay of dead plants and the activity of animals living in the taiga release carbon to the atmosphere. Disturbance of the boreal forest by human activity has the potential to alter the balance of the carbon cycle on Earth by releasing the stored carbon and exacerbating the rate of climate change.