Meaghan Weeden | May 21, 2020 | 4 min read


There are approximately 1.75 million species of organisms on this planet, but it’s no secret that trees are our favorite! Trees are the ultimate keystone species — many insects, fungi, and other wildlife, depend on specific types to survive — so when they disappear, entire ecosystems can get degraded. Today, there are approximately 60,000 tree species on the planet, 10% of which are endangered. And healthy forests are often where biodiversity is highest.



  • Provide homes, playgrounds, and hiding spots from predators 
  • Provide not only food and water, but entire food chains
  • Create and hold soil together for a nutrient-rich forest floor
  • Grow plants that we humans use as life-saving medicine
  • Create oxygen and absorb pollution, keeping our air clean
  • Slow the flow of stormwater, helping to clean the water and contribute to global water cycles

Here's a list of 7 awesome wildlife species that depend on forests:

tree kangaroo peeking from behind a tree

1. Tree Kangaroo

Tree Kangaroos live in the lowland and mountainous rainforests of Papua, New Guinea, Indonesia, and parts of Queensland, Australia. Uniquely adapted to these cloud forests, their sharp claws help with climbing and a long tail keeps them balanced. Meanwhile, their thick chestnut-colored fur insulates against the damp and camouflages against predators.

They prefer to eat mature leaves and fresh-picked fruit, but will also collect fruit that has fallen to the ground. They also enjoy grains, flowers, sap, eggs, young birds, and even bark. A truly unique species, they were probably introduced to NG by humans and adapted to their new, arboreal environment over time. Pretty cool, right?

baby gray foxes

2. Foxes

Foxes build their dens in forests, rock formations, hollow logs and trees, and brush piles. Lined with grass and leaves, these dens provide a safe shelter for blind pups, especially in the first 5 weeks of their lives. They also use trees to escape their enemies, grabbing them with their forepaws and scrambling up with their claws and hind feet.

Foxes also help to control forest populations of rodents like voles and rabbits, and help to disperse seeds, further enhancing plant biodiversity around their habitats.

gopher tortoise

3. Gopher Tortoise

Gopher tortoises depend on forests for their very survival. As dry-land turtles, they live in the well-drained sandy soils of longleaf-pine forests, and dry oak sand hills. And as extraordinary diggers, they carve out extensive burrows underneath the forest floor, providing habitat and refuge for hundreds of other species, thus earning their designation as a keystone species.

Primarily herbivorous, they like to eat grasses, mushrooms, saw palmetto berries, and prickly pear cactus pads, fruits and flowers, along with blackberries, blueberries, gopher apples and other low-growing fruits.

orangutan baby and mom

4. Orangutan

The largest tree-climbing mammals in the world, orangutans sleep in nests of trees and vegetation. Ripe fruit is their favorite thing to eat, but you'll also catch them dining on young leaves, bark, flowers, honey, insects, vines, and the inner shoots of plants.

Thanks to their diet, they play a vital role in protecting biodiversity by eating fruits whole, then expelling the seeds in their droppings. In one study, scientists found 828 seeds in one fecal sample! And because droppings create a nice, moist environment for the digested seeds, successful germination is much more likely. Clearly, they’ve earned their title “man of the forest.”

spruce grouse crossing the road

5. Spruce Grouse

Spruce grouses live in the coniferous forests of the northern U.S. and Canada. Unusually nonchalant about human activities, their dark feathers provide an effective camouflage as they navigate their woodland homes. In fact, their plumage and demeanor combine to make them the bane of hunters and birders alike — so if you happen to see one, consider yourself lucky!

Pine, spruce, and other coniferous needles make up the bulk of their diet, but they also dine on fresh green shoots, leaves, berries, flowers, insects, snails, and fungi, helping to keep their populations in check. 

river otter sunning on a rock

6. River Otter

North American river otters make their dens in abandoned burrows near water’s edge and can thrive in a range of ecosystems, including rivers, lakes, swamps, and estuaries. Their homes are comprised of hollow logs, log jams, piles of driftwood, and boulders. Although most of their lives are spent in the water, these playful Mustelids depend on healthy forests just as much as their terrestrial counterparts.

With razor sharp teeth and claws, they play an integral role in the maintenance of river ecosystems. As predators, they help to control populations of fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds and some reptiles, which make up the bulk of their diet. Thanks to a fast metabolism, they need to eat often!

gray tree frog

7. Gray Tree Frog

Gray tree frogs depend on water to breed, but live in adjacent mixed and deciduous forests. As a nocturnal species, they rest in tree holes, under bark, in rotten logs, under leaves, and under tree roots during the day. But once the sun goes down, the world is their oyster as they deftly traverse the forest in search of food, using their specially adapted toe pads to climb vertically and move horizontally as needed.

They play an important ecosystem role, consuming enough algae as tadpoles to alter the biology of the ponds they depend on. And once they reach adulthood, they reduce pesky bugs like mosquitoes, gnats, plant lice, mites, snails, slugs, and flies. They also provide a vital food source for larger frogs, some birds, and small mammals.

And that's just the tip of the canopy, because trees play an essential role in global biodiversity. Want to give back? Consider planting a tree for biodiversity with us today!



Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth in all forms and interactions, thrives in healthy habitats where nature can recover after ecological disturbance. Reforestation is essential for this process. Learn more

Planting trees for biodiversity will contribute to:

  • Protecting endangered species by increasing forest cover
  • Restoring holistic ecosystems for a range of flora & fauna
  • Improving soil stability by restoring degraded areas
  • We are facing a climate crisis and the rapid loss of Earth's remaining wild places. As we lose habitats, we also lose biodiversity. This is where trees come in! Reforestation helps to restore at-risk ecosystems and habitats, ultimately increasing food supply, health, and overall well-being. Your donation will help to restore forest cover in Uganda, Australia, and the Pacific Northwest. Reforesting these areas will aid in the protection of endangered species, restoration of holistic ecosystems, and improvement of soil stability.
  • With the presence of a regenerating forest, we will create a safe haven for biodiversity. This brings a wide array of habitats, leading to a significant increase in species numbers. The restoration of degraded areas will also result in better soil stability, ultimately improving forest cover as a whole!
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates on our biodiversity projects, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • In order to maximize biodiversity across our multiple projects, we will plant an array of tree species such as Terminalia arjuna, Cassis fistula, Careya arborea, Ficus racemosa, Palo de tinto (Haematoxylum campechianum), Guacimo (Guazuma ulmifolia), Palo de rosa (Tabebuia rosea), Juniperus procera, Croton megalocarpus, Prunus africana.


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