A white sand forest is a rare type of subtropical forest region. It is distinctive due to its unique combination of (often) rare plant and animal species, and their restriction to ancient coastal dunes.
They are typically composed of clay soils and nutrient poor white sands.
White sand forests are found in different places; in Maputaland in South Africa, Australia as well as parts of the Amazon basin in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia.
They are commonly referred to as “sand forests” in the South African regions and “Lucauati forests” in Mozambique. In the Amazon, they are locally known as campinaranas and campinas.
Because of the rare nature of the White Sand Forests studies have been carried out by researchers and scientists on the plant diversity within these forests. Till today, a full understanding of the process in which they have emerged is lacking. However, some studies say that the sand forests are the fragments of coastal dunes which were separated from the ocean over millions of years ago as the shoreline and water level slowly shifted.
They claim it happened due to “Podsolization” a process in which the upper layer of soil becomes acidic due to lack of nutrients. With this lack of nutrients in the upper horizon results in only white sand being left behind.
Just like every rare specie is under threat, the sand forests being isolated in small patches, have been mostly protected from the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. However, they are still at risk of disturbances as sand forests are extremely sensitive to destruction due to the harsh growth and survival conditions. Since the conditions are so tough to thrive in once an ecosystem declines, it may take hundreds of years for it to develop again.
This is why environmentalists are doing all the can to preserve the beautiful White Sand forest all over the world.
Have you visited a whitesand forest? Kindly share your experience in the comment section.