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Natural vegetation. What is Natural vegetation?. Natural Vegetation refers to plants that grow and develop by themselves without human help . Why do we have to learn about Natural vegetation?. The study of natural vegetation is important to geographers for two reasons.

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what is natural vegetation
What is Natural vegetation?

Natural Vegetation refers to plants that grow and develop by themselves without human help .

why do we have to learn about natural vegetation
Why do we have to learn about Natural vegetation?

The study of natural vegetation is important to geographers for two reasons.

  • Vegetation is an integral part of the physical environment
  • Humans depend on vegetation for food, fuel, shelter, medicine etc.
can natural vegetation be classified into other forms of vegetation
Can Natural vegetation be classified into other forms of vegetation?

Natural Vegetation can be classified into:

  • Forest vegetation
  • Grass land vegetation
  • Desert vegetation

There are three types of tropical forests:

1. Tropical rain forests

2. Mangrove forests

3. Tropical monsoon forests


Where are they found…

The tropical rainforest spreads like a green belt around the earth.

The most extensive areas with this type of forests are:

  • The Amazon Basin in south America.
  • The Congo Basin of Africa
  • Indonesia and East Malaysia in Asia

Tropical rainforests

  • Tropical (or equatorial) rainforests occur near the equator
  • This provides a hot and wet climate for the majority of the year





  • overhead sun/high angle of sun/sun shining directly
  • high temperatures/hot climate
  • high rates of evaporation/transpiration
  • high humidity
  • rising air
  • condensation/build up of clouds
  • low pressure
  • convectional rainfall

Climate on the natural vegetation

  • Abundant vegetation due to hot/wet climate
  • Evergreen due to lack of a cold season/limited seasonal change
  • Drip tip leaves to repel heavy rain
  • Emergents reach for sun
  • Variety of species as growing conditions are ideal/hot/wet
difference in plant species
Difference in plant species…

There is great variety of plant species in tropical rainforests. One hectare of land in a tropical rain forest may contain as many as 400 species of trees.

The trees in tropical rainforests are largely broadleaved evergreens. Many of the trees are hardwoods.

Lianas and epiphytes (air plants) such as Bird’s nest Fern are also common in tropical rainforests.

special characteristics of trees
Special characteristics of trees
  • Leaves:

Tropical rain forests trees have waxy, hairy or leathery leaves that allow rain water to run off easily. The shape of the leaves are usually broad with narrow, downward pointing tips.

  • Roots:

Some trees have buttress roots that can grow up to more than 5m high. The roots are rather shallow as they do not need to grow deep down into the soil to extract nutrition's.

  • Fruit and Flowers:

The fruit and flowers of tropical rainforests tend to be colorful and sweet smelling in order to attract agents of pollination.


lots of different species/huge variety e.g. teak/mahogany etc.

  • tall/high
  • thin
  • little undergrowth
  • lianas
  • parasites/epiphytes/fungi
  • layers
  • canopy/under canopy
  • emergents
  • buttress roots
  • dense/thick
  • drip tips
  • leaves at top/branchless trees
  • shrubs/shrub layer/short bushes
ground layer
Ground layer
  • Moist and dark with little undergrowth, consisting of small fungi, mosses and ferns.
  • The leaf litter is considerably thin as the rate of decomposition is fast because of the high temperature and rainfall.
shrub layer
Shrub layer
  • Isolated shrubs, ferns and young trees have to adapt to the lack of sunlight.
  • These include wild ginger, pandan and tapioca
under canopy layer
Under canopy layer
  • Shorter trees with discontinuous canopy.
  • Shade-tolerant trees like palms and tree ferns are common
  • Leaves are much larger at this layer compared to other layers
canopy layer
Canopy Layer
  • Trees grow so close together that their crowns interlock to form a continuous canopy
  • Height of canopy layers is between25m and 35m
  • Common woody vines called lianas twine around the tree trunk
  • Epiphytes grow on branches of trees

Emergent layer

  • The tallest trees are found in this layer.
  • Trees can grow to more than 40m to capture direct sunlight
  • They also have thick and straight trunks.

Forest Floor

  • Also known as the immature and herb layer
  • Hot, still and humid
  • Shade tolerant plants such as mosses and ferns
  • Dead and rotting vegetation that falls to the floor supports a wide variety of small insects, animals, bacteria and fungi
  • Can support large animals such as tigers, elephants, leopards and wild pigs
  • In African and South American Rainforests there are few

ground animals



  • David Waugh, Geography An Integrated Approach, pg 300, 330-332

Thank You

M. Panigrahy

G.M.I.S., Jakarta