Riisitunturi, Ruka,

Taiga

Boreal Forest, Snow Forest, Subarctic Region
Single.Earth
Valgesoo, Põlva County
,
Estonia

Found just south of the Arctic Circle and displaying similar characteristics to its closest northern neighbours, the taiga (sometimes known as the boreal forest) is a landscape of sweeping vistas, silent lakes, and remote, untouched beauty. Miles from the bustle of the city, the taiga is a mythical landscape that is home to reindeers, wild bears, Siberian tigers and moose - the most elusive and unexpected of the planet’s inhabitants.

Spreading for miles across the Earth’s northern hemisphere, these hardy creatures and the landscapes that they call home are built to withstand the coldest of weathers - from the open spaces of Canada, across northern Europe, to the vast mountain ranges of Asia and the distant climes of northern Russia. 

Packed with coniferous forests and glacial lakes that are at the mercy of the Arctic air, the landscapes of the taiga are bracing, bright - and incredibly popular with those who want to disconnect from daily life and be truly awed by the power of nature.

Biome Map Image
Terpsichores, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons / modified from original

Taiga characteristics

  • Tall evergreen trees 
  • Little precipitation 
  • Cold weather 
  • Shallow soil 
  • Permafrost 
  • Found between tundra and temperate forests 
  • Acidic peat bogs 
  • Lakes 
  • Mountainous landscapes 
  • Thick forest 
  • Cold winters and short summers
  • Heavy snow 
  • Cones and pines 
  • Shallow roots
  • Boreal forest (in the southern taiga)
Quebec
Patrick_Lauzon
Quebec
,
Canada
Taiga climate
Temperature High
32
°C
Temperature High (Avg)
Temperature Low
–67
°C
Temperature Low (Avg)
Precipitation
615
mm
Precipitation (Avg)

Climate Change

Logging is the biggest threat to the taiga, with the worldwide need for paper and wood for construction projects causing soil erosion and loss of biodiversity. Climate change can also cause fewer trees to grow in the taiga: warming temperatures mean the melting of the permafrost, leading to increases in bogland. As the area is characterised by shallow tree roots, trees can lilt and become unstable when the permafrost melts into the soil. As boreal forests in the south of the taiga store most of the world’s carbon, threats to their continued existence are extremely concerning. 

Animals are at risk as the taiga warms, as many of the biome’s native species are not adapted to survive in warmer climates. This means that non-native species may start to inhabit the area, upsetting the biome’s delicate ecosystem and causing plant life to diminish.

Top Taiga trips

The otherworldly landscapes created by the taiga often mean stunning vistas that can be far-removed from our own. Isolation and returning to nature are key for most visitors to the taiga, whether they’re in Canada, Scandinavia or northern Russia. Wild camping, snow-mobiling, hiking, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding and seeking out the Aurora Borealis are all popular activities. The numerous lakes that are found in the taiga mean activities like canoeing, kayaking and fishing are common. 

Sustainable tourism, including wildlife tracking, also brings visitors to the taiga. The opportunity to spot elusive animals like bears, caribou and moose can provide memories that you’ll never forget. In the taiga of northern Canada, some intrepid explorers have even set out on the trail of the mythical Bigfoot. Feel free to join them… although we can’t guarantee that you’ll track him down.

Riisitunturi, Ruka,
Kertu_ee
Riisitunturi, Ruka,
,
Finland

Taiga areas of natural beauty

The largest taiga in the world is in Russia, where it stretches from the Ural Mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The lakes found here are popular with visitors, whilst in Scandinavia, the taiga is a great location from which to experience the Aurora Borealis. Eastern Finland is also a great spot for wildlife spotting.

Wildlife

Taiga animals

Despite the harsh conditions, various species have adapted to survive in the taiga. Mammals including lynx, Siberian tigers, wolves, wolverines, hares, bears and moose can be seen stalking between the trees, whilst small rodents such as mice can be found on the forest floor. Migratory birds that call the taiga home in the summer months fly south in the winter.

Taiga plants

Spruce, fir, larch, cedar and pine are some of the most common examples of evergreen trees found in the taiga, whilst the biome may also contain shrubs, moss and various types of mushroom.

Taiga countries

Taiga is found directly below the Arctic circle, with Canada, northern Scandinavia (parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland), northern Russia and the US state of Alaska all being home to this habitat.