Around the Block: Snowy Taiga
Trees in the freeze
Minecraft’s snowy forests are a truly magical place. Soft flakes landing on broad boughs, rabbits hopping around in the bushes, listening to your boots crunch the snow underfoot as a creeper approaches silently from behind. But the most magical of all, if you’re asking me, is the snowy taiga forests. And so, by the power vested in me, I’m pronouncing them our biome of the month.
Taigas were first added to Minecraft in October 2010 as part of the Halloween Update. At that point, all Taigas were snowy, and the trees were oak. It wasn’t until Java Edition Beta 1.2 that they became spruce. In The Update That Changed the World, terrain generation was reworked so that default taigas were without snow, but a rare “Cold Taiga” biome did snow. Finally, the Update Aquatic put in place the snowy taiga we know and love today.
I think Snowy Taigas are a great place to set up a home. The spruces offer ample building material, while rabbits and berry bushes offer a source of food, no matter what your dietary requirements are. You’ll find the usual sheep, pigs, chickens, and cows too – as well as the occasional snowy fox.
The main downside of life in a cold climate is that any exposed water will freeze into ice, but it’s easy to counteract this with a torch or just by ensuring your farming takes place under the cover of trees. You’ll also have to deal with the usual zombies, skeletons, creepers, and spiders – but this is Minecraft, you should be used to that by now.
You’ll find Igloos here, as well as Trail Ruins in the upcoming Trails and Tales update. In Bedrock Edition, you’ll also find villages and pillager outposts in this biome – though the villagers will likely have a difficult time farming due to the frozen water, so you might need to help them out a bit with that.
In the real world, snowy taigas – also known as boreal forests – cover a huge amount of the Earth’s surface. Most of Canada, Alaska, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Norway, and Sweden are taiga, as well as parts of Iceland, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Japan.
The tree species that make up the taiga vary a bit. In North America, it’s mostly spruce trees. Scandinavia and Finland have a mix of spruce, pine, and birch. In Russia, you have a mix of spruce, pine, and larch, and the Eastern Siberian taiga is almost all larch.
The taiga is also one of the most important parts of the Earth’s climate system – storing more carbon than the world’s tropical and temperate forests combined. Unfortunately, this vital biome is under threat – rising temperatures due to climate change mean that summers are hotter and drier (allowing for wildfires that destroy huge areas of the forest), and winters are warmer and wetter (allowing more tree-damaging insects to survive).
So as we celebrate Minecraft’s snowy taiga, let’s also remember to appreciate and protect the real thing – and continue to enjoy the enchanting beauty and chilly adventures that await us within both of them.
- Duncan Geere