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Forbidden Forest seems to have a great deal of assorted magical plants, creatures and beings. Significantly more so than a random forest in Britain would.

What was the reason for that?

I can see 3 options (not necessarily fully mutually exclusive):

  • This is how all forests used to look long time ago During the third Age back when muggle civilization and population density were negligible.

  • Many magical livings things migrated there due to Muggle encroachment elsewhere and anti-Muggle protections around Hogwarts, thus raising the density of magical beings in F.F.

  • Wizards (presumably, Hogwarts teachers) intentionally populated the Forest with magical living beings in addition to any that already lived there.

I would prefer canon answers.

Please note that Hagrid's random acts of entertainment (hey what if I release a pet giant spider) don't quite count since the forest was like that since before Hagrid.

  • 4
    +1 But...How do you know random forests in Britain aren't just as teeming with magical wildlife? – NominSim Aug 30 '12 at 19:34
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    @NominSim - Muggles would see them. Or be eaten by them – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 30 '12 at 19:35
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    Then the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures would step in though wouldn't they? They are responsible for the: "concealment, care and control of all magical beasts, beings, and spirits dwelling within [their] borders." – NominSim Aug 30 '12 at 19:39
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    It is Hagrid's fault. Anytime he has something he shouldn't (Fluffy, Aragog, his brother, dragons) he dumps them in the forest. – Jack B Nimble Aug 30 '12 at 20:28
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    @vsz - With magic it is easier to derail investigations. Look at what drew peterson did 3 times with no magic. The government knows about magic and is complicit in the covering up of magical activities in HP canon. – Chad Sep 4 '12 at 13:19
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Firstly,

"in 1750 Clause 73 was inserted to the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, to which wizard ministries worldwide conform today: Each wizarding governing body will be responsible for the concealment, care and control of all magical beasts , beings and spirits dwelling within its territory's borders..."
(From Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)

The Forbidden Forest has so many magical creatures for a number of reasons; the main one being that the Ministry of Magic in Britain chose to use the Forbidden Forest as a place to encourage the growth of magical creatures because it is impossible for a muggle to go there. After the Statute of Secrecy was introduced there had to be tighter control on magical creatures - the Forest was a way to help conceal them.

Secondly, (this is not canon) it is likely that more magical creatures were introduced to the forest for use by students at Hogwarts during Care of Magical Creatures lessons.

Thirdly, as you stated it is likely that many magical creatures chose to live in the Forbidden Forest for the lack of muggles.

Finally, a lack of non-magical creatures in the forest would be due to magical creatures being far superior in the survival of the fittest!

3

The creatures that weren't clearly there because of Hagrid weren't particularly dangerous.

Centaurs and unicorns are two of the creatures confirmed to be in the Forbidden Forest that might not have been because of Hagrid. Both of them are rated XXXX by the Ministry of Magic, but because they should be treated with respect, not because they're dangerous.

“The centaur is given an XXXX classification not because it is unduly aggressive, but because it should be treated with great respect. The same applies to merpeople and unicorns.”- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The centaurs were more than willing to stay in the Forbidden Forest and not meddle with humans. Unicorns also avoid human contact, so they're not really a threat to humans either.

Other creatures are there because of Hagrid and may not be officially allowed in the forest.

Hagrid is the direct cause of some of the most dangerous creatures in the Forbidden Forest. He's the reason behind the Acromantulas, the Blast-Ended Skrewts, his half-brother Grawp, and possibly other creatures, living in the Forbidden Forest. Many of his creatures are dangerous or illegal, or otherwise things he shouldn't have, so it's likely their presence in the Forbidden Forest is kept a secret.

The Forest is hidden from Muggles, so it's a good place to hide creatures.

Once they're able to keep the creatures there contained, Hogwarts is a good place to keep them, since it's already hidden from Muggles. All they'd need is to be able to keep the creatures away from the students, and that's probably doable. Even Muggles are able to have zoos in cities, near to people, without being particularly concerned that the animals are going to escape and eat them.

Most of the creatures aren't dangerous enough that the staff can't subdue them if needed.

The majority of the creatures in the Forbidden Forest, especially the creatures that weren't smuggled there by Hagrid, were probably not much of a threat to the Hogwarts staff. If a creature was sufficiently running rampant, it's likely that the Hogwarts staff could step in and handle it before anything bad happens.

In addition, there may be spells keeping the creatures within the bounds of the Forest.

We never hear about even the most dangerous of Hagrid's creatures escaping the Forbidden Forest and reaching the Hogwarts grounds, except during the battle at Hogwarts, when many of the school's protective enchantments were broken through. It's possible there was some kind of barrier, keeping the creatures in the Forbidden Forest from leaving it.

1

I think the premise of the question is not necessarily correct. There are not actually that many magical creatures that live in the forest (at least that we see throughout the books).

The following magical creatures are seen in the forest:

  • Centaur herd
  • Thestral herd
  • Acromantula colony
  • Bowtruckles
  • Unicorns
  • Hippogriffs

Centaurs

According to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

Wizarding authorities in each of the countries where centaurs are found have allocated areas where the centaurs will not be troubled by Muggles;

A forest on the grounds of a wizard school hidden from muggles is the perfect place to be an "allocated area". Thus it is unsurprising to find centaurs in the Forbidden Forest and not in any random forest in Britain.

Additionally, the other forests in which centaurs are found may have Muggle-repelling charms, as mentioned in the introduction to Fantastic Beasts, so you wouldn't be able to find them:

Muggle-repelling charms prevent trespassers into the forests where centaurs and unicorns live and on the lakes and rivers set aside for the use of merpeople.

And even without that, the introduction also states that centaurs deliberately avoid Muggles:

Then there are those beasts that, due to cleverness or innate shyness, avoid contact with Muggles at all costs — for instance, the unicorn, the Mooncalf and the centaur.

Thestrals

Hagrid explains in Order of the Phoenix why they have a thestral herd at Hogwarts:

"Yeah, I was gonna tell yeh how come we got a herd. Yeah, so, we started off with a male an' five females. This one," he patted the first horse to have appeared, "name o' Tenebrus, he's my special favorite, firs' one born here in the forest —"

This makes it sound like the thestrals were deliberately introduced into the forest. The reason you wouldn't find thestrals in any random forest in Britain is that they are rare, as described in Fantastic Beasts:

and the rare Thestral (black, possessed of the power of invisibility and considered unlucky by many wizards)

Acromantula

Acromantula are not native to Britain. As Aragog tells Harry and Ron in Chamber of Secrets:

"I was not born in the castle. I come from a distant land.

And as confirmed in Fantastic Beasts:

It originated in Borneo, where it inhabits dense jungle.

The only reason they are found in the Forbidden Forest is that Hagrid introduced a male and female there, and they had lots of offspring. In fact, we can surmise that they are pretty rare because Fantastic Beasts also says:

The beast is believed to be wizard-bred, possibly intended to guard wizard dwellings or treasure, as is often the case with magically created monsters.

Thus, the only Acromantula in existence are probably the limited number that were intentionally created, and their offspring. It is certainly understandable why you would not find them in a random forest in Britain.

Additionally, the introduction to Fantastic Beasts states that the areas where Acromantula are found are inaccessible to Muggles:

Other magical creatures inhabit places inaccessible to Muggles — one thinks of the Acromantula, deep in the uncharted jungle of Borneo,

Bowtruckles

Bowtruckles probably can be found in random forests in Britain. As per Fantastic Beasts:

The Bowtruckle is a tree-guardian creature found mainly in the west of England, southern Germany and certain Scandinavian forests.

However, you may not have ever noticed them in your travels through various forests because they are very hard to notice, again, as per Fantastic Beasts:

It is immensely difficult to spot, being small (maximum eight inches in height) and apparently made of bark and twigs with two small brown eyes.

Unicorns

There does not seem to be evidence that unicorns were deliberately introduced into the Forbidden Forest. According to Fantastic Beasts:

The unicorn is a beautiful beast found throughout the forests of northern Europe.

As such, it might be possible to find them in a random forest in Britain. However, even in a forest in which unicorns can be found, you might not actually see them, because according to Fantastic Beasts:

It generally avoids human contact, is more likely to allow a witch to approach it than a wizard, and is so fleet of foot that it is very difficult to capture.

Additionally, it is stated in the introduction to Fantastic Beasts that unicorns have territories designated for them (of which the Forbidden Forest might be one):

While unicorns and merpeople are only too happy to stay within the territories designated for their use,

Not only that, there may even be muggle-repelling charms on the forests where unicorns live, as also mentioned in the introduction:

Muggle-repelling charms prevent trespassers into the forests where centaurs and unicorns live and on the lakes and rivers set aside for the use of merpeople.

And also mentioned there, unicorns avoid Muggles at all costs:

Then there are those beasts that, due to cleverness or innate shyness, avoid contact with Muggles at all costs — for instance, the unicorn, the Mooncalf and the centaur.

Hippogriffs

It's unclear whether hippogriffs actually live in the Forbidden Forest. We never actually see any hippogriffs in the forest. The only reason to think there are hippogriffs in the forest is that Hagrid leads them out of the forest for the first Care of Magical Creatures lesson in Prisoner of Azkaban:

"Righ' then," said Hagrid, who seemed to have lost his thread, "so — yeh've got yer books an' — an'— now yeh need the Magical Creatures. Yeah. So I'll go an' get 'em. Hang on..."

He strode away from the forest and out of sight.

However, it is possible that Hagrid simply stored them in the forest before the lesson so they would be a surprise. In fact it is possible that Hagrid only had the whole group of hippogriffs just for the lesson (e.g. he rented them for a few days or something). Indeed, throughout the rest of the series there is no mention of any of the other hippogriffs — not in the forest, nor outside of the forest. The only hippogriff we do continue to see is Buckbeak, and both in Prisoner of Azkaban, and when he returns in Half-Blood Prince, Buckbeak lives in or outside of Hagrid's cabin.

Also, we don't even know if hippogriffs normally live in forests. Unlike the other creatures, there is no mention in the hippogriff entry in Fantastic Beasts that they live in forests.


In short, there are not actually that many magical creatures that we ever see in the Forbidden Forest to begin with. And for each creature in the Forbidden Forest there is an explanation for why it would be found in the Forbidden forest and not in any random forest in Britain (with the possible exception of hippogriffs, which we don't even know with certainty resided in the Forbidden Forest).

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