A primeval forest is a forest created by nature. It developed by itself and there are no traces of humans logging or planting in it. Primeval forests are also considered to be forests in which humans have intervened for some time. But then they stopped doing it and left the forest to nature again. After a long enough time, one can speak of a jungle again.
Around one-fifth to one-third of all forest areas around the world are primeval forests. That depends on how narrowly you use the term. But then one must not forget that many forests have completely disappeared. Today there are mostly fields, pastures, plantations, cities, industrial areas, airports, and so on. Primeval forests and used forests are disappearing more and more all over the world.
The word “jungle” is also not entirely clear. Often one only understands the tropical rainforest. But there are many other types of primeval forests, some in Europe but most elsewhere in the world.
What types of jungles are there?
Almost half of the jungle is tropical rainforest. The largest and most important are in the Amazon Basin in South America, in the Congo Basin in Africa, and in Southeast Asia.
Also, almost half of the primeval forests are coniferous forests in cold, northern areas of the world. They are found in Canada, northern Europe, and Asia. Scientist calls them boreal coniferous forest or taiga. There are only spruces, pines, firs, and larches there. For such a forest to develop, it must not be too warm and rain or snow must fall regularly.
A jungle is a dense forest in the tropics. Many primeval forests are called jungles. In the narrower sense, one speaks of jungles only in Asia, where there is the monsoon. One also speaks of a jungle in a figurative sense. For example, you say: “This is a jungle” when the papers are so jumbled that you can no longer see through them.
The remaining types of jungles are distributed all over the world. There are also primeval forests in Europe. However, they only make up a very small part of the total jungle area.
Which primeval forests are there in Europe?
By far the largest part of the primeval forests that still exist in Europe is in the north of Europe. They are coniferous forests and you can find the largest of them mainly in northern Russia, but also in Scandinavia.
The largest primeval forest in Central Europe is in the Carpathians. This is a high mountain range in eastern Europe, largely located in Romania. Today, however, many scientists think that people have already intervened too much there and that this is no longer a real jungle. In a nearby area, there are still large primary beech forests.
In Poland, there is a mixed deciduous and coniferous forest, which comes very close to a primeval forest. There are huge oaks, ash trees, lime trees, and elms. However, this forest is currently being cut down in part. Environmentalists have taken the matter to court.
In Lower Austria, there is still the large Dürrenstein wilderness area. It is the largest wilderness area in Central Europe. Indeed, its innermost part has remained completely untouched by humans since the last Ice Age.
High up in the Alps there are still fairly untouched forests that come very close to primeval forests. In Switzerland, there are three other smaller but real primeval forests: one each in the cantons of Schwyz, Valais, and Graubünden.
In Germany, there are no real primeval forests anymore. There are only a few areas that come close to a jungle. These are the Bavarian Forest National Park, the Harz National Park, and an area in the Thuringian Forest. In the Hainich National Park, there are old red beech forests that have been left to their own devices for about 60 years.