Cloud Forests


The cloud forest is a specific type of rainforest that is only found in tropical mountain areas. The cloud forest is literally immersed in clouds most of the time, with water being deposited directly from the clouds onto leaves and other vegetation. This keeps the cloud forest quite moist, and relative humidity here is almost always 100%.

                                                                                                                               photo M. Noonan

In addition to being constantly wet, the cloud forest is also much cooler than the tropical rainforest, due to its higher elevation. In the cloud forest, lower areas have tree canopy 115 ft high, while the upper elevations are more windswept and trees are stunted to only 33ft. Because of their comparatively short stature, these areas of trees are known as "elfin forest."

photo M. Noonan

In addition to providing a unique habitat in which many plant and animal species flourish, cloud forests also play an extremely important role in hydrology -- they capture, store, and filter water into local communities and rivers hundreds of miles away. However, global warming poses a threat to the cloud forest because it could lift the cloud line and thereby cause forests to become warmer and drier -- threatening the forest and all of the species that call it home.


CAC is a program of the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.