Forest vs. Jungle: What’s the Difference?

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If you’re not a big traveler, the difference between forest and jungle might seem like a minor detail to fuss over. However, if you’re headed to one of these habitats shortly, knowing the difference could mean the difference between an uncomfortable trip and an enjoyable experience.

There are more than 350 different types of forests on earth, including rainforests, mangrove forests, coniferous forests, and even cloud forests — but what makes them different from jungles?

Main Difference

A forest is a natural ecosystem that has been maintained over time through human intervention. Forests are characterized by trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns, mosses, lichens, and other vegetation types. A forest can be found in many different environments including tropical rainforests, temperate deciduous forests, boreal coniferous forests, and desert woodlands.

The word “jungle” comes from the Hindi language and means “a thicket or scrubland.” In contrast to a forest, a jungle is not a naturally occurring environment but rather a man-made habitat where humans have created a dense network of tree cover.

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What is a Forest?

A forest is defined as a large area of land in which most of the trees are over 15 meters tall. A forest typically has a greater diversity of life than woodland or stand. Forests play an important role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide and global climate, but deforestation is rapidly destroying them. Forests occupy almost one-third of all land on Earth, although they make up just 2% of Earth’s land surface.


Forest benefits are numerous and diverse. Forests provide physical and environmental goods and services that people need, like:

  • Clean Air and Water
  • Timber
  • Recreation Opportunities
  • Wildlife Habitat
  • Carbon Storage
  • Stormwater Control

They also play a vital role in regulating climate by absorbing greenhouse gases. Forest ecosystems are important contributors to global biodiversity.

Forest Animals

While many different animals can be found in both forests and jungles, some are specific to each ecosystem. For example, primates like monkeys, apes, and gorillas can only be found in tropical rainforests.

Plants in a Forest

When we think of a forest, we often picture an expansive area with hundreds or thousands of trees. In these forests, there are many types of plants that share similar features but have some differences as well.

Today, we’re going to talk about two types of forests you might find in your area. These are deciduous and coniferous forests. We’ll also discuss some characteristics of each type and give examples that you can identify in your local area!

What is a Jungle?

A rainforest is a dense tropical forest that gets high amounts of rainfall every year. It can be hot and humid, with temperatures reaching up to 25 degrees Celsius during the day, and below 10 degrees Celsius at night.

Jungle Benefits

When most people think of forests, they likely think of the trees. Forests are so much more than that, though. They are home to a variety of plants and animals and provide important environmental services. Forests also play an important role in our physical health, both mentally and physically.

Forests provide environmental goods and services. One of the most important services forests provide is regulating the water cycle. They do this by slowing down water runoff, which allows the water to seep into the ground and recharge aquifers. Forests also help to regulate the climate by cooling the air and reducing erosion.

Forests are also home to a variety of plants and animals. Plants in forests play an important role in filtering air and water pollution. Animals in forests help to disperse seeds and pollinate plants.

  • There are many benefits to living in the jungle.
  • The most obvious benefit is that you have an abundance of trees and other plants to provide you with oxygen.
  • The jungle is also a great place to find food, shelter, and water.

Jungle Animals

The rainforests of South America and Africa have a lot of unique animals—think jaguars, anacondas, monkeys, and sloths. One reason for such a high amount of diversity is that there are so many different niches to fill in these environments.

A niche is defined as a role an organism has in its ecosystem; some examples include eating different foods or living in a certain area. If there were no niches to be filled, it would be difficult for life to survive.

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Plants in a Jungle

This may come as a surprise, but jungles don’t have many trees. The density of plants in a rainforest makes it difficult for trees to grow tall. A typical rain forest might only be 6 feet tall because there is so much vegetation around. Jungles are known for their thick brush and impenetrable undergrowth, which makes them challenging places to walk through.

Key Differences Between Jungle and Forest

While a forest and a jungle share some key similarities, they’re generally distinguished by the density of their trees.

In general, a forest has denser trees than a jungle, but those differences aren’t absolute. As a result, other criteria often come into play when defining these terms. For example, while forests are commonly found in high latitudes and near coastlines where temperatures don’t exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), jungles can occur at much lower altitudes and higher temperatures.

Comparison Chart Between Forest and Jungle

Comparison Forest Jungle
Size Very Large Small (20% of forest)
Penetration Penetrable Impenetrable
Type Evergreen, Coniferous, Boreal, Deciduous, Tropical, Rain, etc. RainForests
Found in All regions Edge of Forest
Canopy Thick Thin
Diverse Less Diverse More Diverse


In conclusion, there are many differences between a forest and a jungle. For one, jungles have not been on Earth for nearly as long as forests, so they do not have anywhere near as much diversity among their trees and plants. Forests also house many different types of animals and humans, while jungles do not seem to be home to large populations of any species at all. Despite these differences though, it can still be difficult to tell a forest from a jungle.