Have you ever wondered about the beauty, and the mystery of rainforests? Rainforests are found in areas, which receive high amounts of rainfall, throughout the year, and differ as per their location. The forests, which grow closer to the equator, are known as evergreen, because of the hot and wet climate in which they grow. Rainforests that are seen in areas that experience a temperate climate, belong to the deciduous variety. Human interference destroys thousands of important, and rare species of trees, which is why the rainforests are at the brink of extinction.
The need for people to be educated about the importance of saving these forests is crucial and must not be sidelined for later perusal. Rainforests are home to some of the rarest living organisms on earth, which together form a delicate network, and ecology. With deforestation, today thousands of species face the danger of becoming extinct, and they stand as testament to the extinction that occurs with every passing day! Let us check out some interesting facts about rainforests, which would give you an insight about their importance to mankind.
Did You Know?
- Rainforests are very dense because of the thick growth of plant life; this is because flora thrive in the heavy rainfall and climate offered by these forests. When it rains, it is said that the drops of rain take around 10 minutes to reach the ground, because the upper canopy of the trees is very thick and dense. This is what extends the duration for the raindrops to reach the ground of the forest area.
- At one time, rainforests covered around 14% of the Earth's surface. Today, with their rapid destruction, only 6% remain.
- Rainforests are found all over the world such as in Asia, Brazil, Amazon Forests, Africa, Canada, etc.
- The largest amount of tree felling occurred between 1960-1980. This is when Asia lost most of it forest cover.
- Did you know, that around 1/3 of the world's species of birds live in the rainforest?
- We all know that sloths are associated with being lazy. It is said that in some moist areas of the rainforests in South America, algae grow on the fur of sloths, because they are so slow and rarely ever groom themselves!
- These forests not only have a wide variety and rare species of plant and animal life, around 80% of the flowers which are found in the Australian rainforests are not found anywhere else on earth.
- The Amazon Rainforest, is also known as the 'Lungs of our Planet', because it produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen by recycling the carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere.
- A four square mile patch of the rainforest area can house many things; more than you can imagine! There are around 1500 flowering plants, 750 species of trees, and around 400 species of birds that can be accommodated on this patch of land and forest.
- Did you know that many medicines that are sold worldwide have some sources? Most medicines are made from extracts found in rare plants. Most medicines in use today, include extracts from species that are found in the rainforests.
- One-fifth of the world's freshwater is found in the Amazon Basin.
- There are particular factors that result in these forests being home to all species of plant and animal life. The rainforests are known to maintain a constant temperature of 80 degrees F and the kind of heavy rainfall they receive can range from 160-400 inches per year. These weather conditions help all sorts of living organisms to flourish.
- Around 2,000 species of butterflies are found in the rainforests.
- As of now, only 200 fruit varieties are used by people across the globe. However, the natives of the rainforests consume more than 2000 different types of fruits each year.
- More than 80% of the world's food, such as vegetables, spices, and fruits, are derived from the different rainforests across the globe.
- The rainforest encompasses a possible cure for all forms of cancer and perhaps AIDS as well. Madagascar Periwinkle is the most effective anticancer plant found till date. Its extract Vincristine is used for chemotherapy and shows substantial relief from this deadly condition.
- The rainforests have a huge role to play in controlling the global climate. It is a known fact that, trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in order to produce life-giving oxygen. With the rapid depletion of these trees, the level of carbon dioxide is accumulating, and simultaneously increasing global warming. Industrialization, the use of vehicles, and overall pollution, is only adding to the severity of the situation.
The Bane of Deforestation
- Deforestation is a major issue today. The results of deforestation are alarming if you consider what experts have to say. It is believed that the existence of nearly half of the species of plants, microorganisms, and animals is severely threatened due to deforestation. Therefore, the need to protect it has become a matter of grave importance.
- Around 56,000 square miles of natural forest is lost each and every year. The common reasons for the destruction of rainforests is none other than man himself! Man-made fire, the use of chain saws, and bulldozers, cause irreversible damage to the flora and fauna of the rainforests.
- Trees are cut down for providing wood for mass industrialization, for making paper, furniture, cardboard, construction of houses and building. The saddest bit is that many countries import rainforest wood for making coffins, which are eventually burnt or buried!
- Rainforest land is cleared for the sake of subsistence farming, wherein governments exploit this land, in the name of development for the country. The inhabitants strip the land of all nutrients and leave it barren, after which they move on to another fertile part of the forest.
- Forests play a major role in preserving freshwater, and preventing soil erosion. The roots of trees and the trunk, ensure that nutrients from the soil are safeguarded in the trees itself. However, when the tree is cut, these nutrients are lost with the tree and are never restored to the soil. Since there are no roots holding on to the soil, impending floods often erode the rainforest floor and rip off its remaining nourishment. The lack of soil, makes sure that no further trees are able to grow in the weakened patch of the forest, thereby making the land unfit, and barren.
- Without rainforests, the entire water cycle would collapse. In which case, we would be plagued with droughts, famine, and epidemics. The reason being, that all the excess water from the trees and adjacent rivers transpires into the atmosphere and gets collected there. However, a lot of water remains stored within the tree trunk and the water table beneath the trees. Excess water condenses from the atmosphere and precipitates as rain, thereby supplying freshwater to all beings on earth. Without trees, water will evaporate faster and will not be returned to earth as frequently.
- With rampant deforestation, we will lose 90% of our animal, plant, and insect kingdom.
I hope, that these facts about rainforests will help you realize the importance of their existence on Planet Earth. Let's hope each one shoulders some responsibility towards restoring the greenery of our planet.