Tropical Rainforest: Interesting Facts to Raise Awareness
The tropical rainforest is a wondrous part of our world. It is an area with many creatures and species and provides the Earth with many benefits. However, the tropical rainforests are facing many issues right now and have been for years. Rainforests are extremely important to the survival of the Earth and we must do everything we can to protect them. There are many interesting facts about tropical rainforests that everyone should know.
Tropical rainforests are some of the most amazing and exciting areas we have on this Earth. Almost 80% of the world’s species can be found in the rainforests. Which is crazy, considering that the tropical rainforests only cover less than 6% of the Earth’s land mass.
A tropical rainforest is a closed canopy of forests growing within 28 degrees north or south of the equator. They are aptly named for the receive 200 cm of rain every year. Temperatures of these rainforests are also pretty high. The tropical rainforest average temperature can get anywhere between 20 and 35 degrees celsius, that is 68 to 95 degrees fahrenheit. You can find these forests in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, and on many Pacific Islands. However, probably the most known rainforest, the Amazon, is found in Brazil, South America.
Layers of a Tropical Rainforest
An experienced tropical rainforest has many different layers to it. The top layer of vegetation contains emergents. Trees which are unlike the trees you would find anywhere else. These trees are gigantic sizes which watch over the forest like a protector. Next layer you will find is the forest canopy, which is the most interesting. This is because all of the fruit and flowers bloom, which attracts all different sorts of critters. The forest canopy absorbs 90% of the sunlight. Below the canopy, is the understory. Smaller trees grow to protect the herbaceous shrubs beneath. The ground layer, the forest floor, which receives very little sunlight due to the closed canopy of the trees, is home to a number of animals and vegetation.
Fun Facts About The Tropical Rainforest
While many people have heard of The Amazon Rainforest, there is still a lot of information that should be known. Here are the top 10 facts about the tropical rainforests.
First of all, there are many different types of rainforests. Besides the most popular Tropical Rainforests, rainforests are also found in sub-tropical and temperate areas. The Pacific Northwest of the U.S., as well as parts of Japan have dense forests that receive rainforest precipitation. As much as the Amazon and even the Congo. Diversity is also found in tropical rainforests. The variability depends on soils and geology, rain patterns, and resident wildlife. A Rainforest in Asia could look very different from one in Brazil.
The most popular rainforest is also the largest tropical rainforest. The Amazon covers almost 40% of South America. Nearly ⅔ of the Amazon is within the borders of Brazil. The second largest is the Congo in Central Africa. With the third largest residing in New Guinea.
Tropical rainforests are home to more species of plants and animals than anywhere else on Earth. They support 90,000 of the 250,000 plant species. A typical four square mile, the rainforest can contain as many as 1,500 species of flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 125 mammal species, 400 species of birds, 100 species of reptiles, 60 amphibians, and 150 diverse species of butterflies. The rainforest in Peru, more than 1,300 different species of butterflies were found in a single park. In fact, around 40-75% of all biotic species are indigenous to the rainforests. How about that for biodiversity.
Tropical rainforests have been called the “world’s largest pharmacy.” Over ¼ of natural medicines have been discovered in the biomes. In fact, many things you find in a rainforest, we use on a daily basis. Bananas, avocados, cacao, coffee, papaya, among many others. In addition, many plants that have proved to be useful in cancer treatments are only found in the rainforest. Actually, less than 1% of the plant life in the tropical rainforests has been studied for their medicinal value.
⅕ of the world’s freshwater is found in the Amazon Basin. Rainforests are crucial to maintaining Earth’s limited supply of drinking and freshwater.
Before 1500 A.D., there were about 6 million indigenous people living in the Amazon Rainforest. As a result of loss of the environmen, in the early 1900s, there were 250,000 less indigenous people living there.
Almost 90% of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide, rely on the forests for survival.
Rainforests act as the world’s thermostat, by regulating temperatures and weather patterns.
Rainforests, big and small, are found all over the world. As far north as Alaska and Canada into Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Every continent across the Earth, with the exception of Antarctica.
The evolution of prehensile tails on monkeys can be traced back to the New World Monkeys in the rainforests.
20 Facts About Tropical Rainforests Biomes
The rainforest biomes are truly something special. So much is happening all of the time. You want to know why the rainforest biomes are so important and unique, here you go. Here are some rainforest habitat facts.
Tropical rainforests are immensely important because the water the rainforests produce evaporates and is seen as rain in other areas of the world.
Tropical rainforest precipitation can reach up to 400 inches in one year. If you like rain, the rainforest is the place for you.
On average, the tropical rainforest temperatures is between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature rarely gets above 93-97 degrees or below 65-68 degrees.
Orchids are a type of epiphyte plant that grows in the tropical rainforests. This means that it grows in the surface of other plants, most of the time trees.
The tropical rainforest is home to hundreds of different trees. A single hectare can contain over 800 tree species.
There is even a biodiversity of vines. Over 2,500 different species of vines can be found in the rainforest. Some have a thickness that is equal to the circumference of a human!
These rainforests are some of the oldest biomes on Earth, therefore, they have a huge variety of animals and plants living there.
Some of the tropical rainforests have been around since the age of dinosaurs.
Many of the animals live in the trees. They are able to find all necessities for living there and rarely have to go down to the forest floor.
Insects make up most of the creatures living in the rainforest.
Many spices like vanilla, allspice and black pepper, are found in the rainforests.
Rainforests are responsible for the majority of the oxygen in the air we breathe. This is because of the sheer number of trees in the biomes.
The tropical rainforest biome has a very important role in the fight against global warming. The plants and trees are able to absorb much of the carbon dioxide emissions and convert it into oxygen through the natural cycle.
The droppings of birds can actually grow into new plants because they carry seeds from the plants they eat.
The forest canopy hold a very high percentage of plant families, genus, and species.
The level of humidity and denseness of the vegetation gives the ecosystem a unique water and nutrient cycle.
The soil in the rainforest is actually quite poor in quality. This is due to the fact that nutrients from decaying matter is almost immediately recycled by the plant life so that little of it actually reaches the soil. Nutrients are found in the vegetation, especially in the large trees.
The rainforest canopy experiences more drastic changes in temperature and humidity than the majority of hot deserts.
One square meter of fallen leaves can turn up almost 50 different species of ants.
Rainforests in Trouble
Important facts about the rainforest does not stop there. Rainforests all over the world are constantly facing threats. Every year, more than 56,000 square miles of rainforests are lost. Think about the size of a football field. 86,000 football fields worth of rainforest land is mowed down every day. That is over 31 million football fields of rainforest each year. And for what?
People often refer to the Amazon as the “Lungs of the Earth.” This is because this ecosystem stores about 17% of the world’s carbon. It also produces substantial amounts of oxygen that supports countless lifeforms besides our own. However, this rainforest, among all of the others, is constantly under threat of endangerment. The indigenous people are mistreated by failing government policies and private companies are bleeding the areas dry of their natural resources. In 2014, the Amazon lost over 760,000 square kilometers, some studies have shown that if this continues, by 2025, we will have destroyed over 40% of the rainforest.
Many factors are at play here, but what are the most critical threats facing the Amazon right now? By bringing awareness to these threats, we can help to reverse them before it is too late.
Soy Farming and Cattle Ranching
Soy is often seen as a healthy choice, however many farmers are cutting down the forests to make room for more soy fields. Farmers and companies are clearing huge amounts of land and local ecology to make into crop fields. Farmers will then use the area until the soil is drained of its nutrients and can no longer produce crops. They will then move on and cut down more and more parts of the tropical rainforest to use.
Since soy is fed to a lot of livestock, the demand for soy is only rising. In addition, cattle ranching in South America has been destroying vegetation. Cattle will trample and eat whatever vegetation they come across. The combination of increasing soy farming and continuous cattle ranching accounts for 80% of all deforestation.
Mining the Earth has led to many problems world wide. Deep underground, beneath the Amazon, lie many resources. The Amazon Basin contains rich pockets of nickel, copper, tin, manganese, iron ore, gold and many other valuable minerals. New Amazon mining projects have an estimate of $27 billion in investments.
The impact is great, especially during the extraction of gold, which involves using high concentrations of mercury. The mercury then seeps into the soil and poisons the indigenous tribes along with the wildlife, leading to an increase in land pollution. The mining also contributes to deforestation as they cut down the trees to use as fuel.
Yup, oil has been struck in the Amazon. And with oil drilling comes land and air pollution, indigenous conflict, biodiversity loss, and the displacement of many local populations. Oil drilling is actually the primary cause of deforestation. China has lately been on the front of oil development in the Amazon, and their investment in Oil from the Amazon has caused one of the largest oil booms on the planet.
Logging and Infrastructure
As is the cause of almost all deforestation, illegal logging is a serious threat to the rainforest as well. Logging, in a legal and sustainable manner is acceptable because there need for wood products and materials in construction. This drives the expansion of logging throughout the whole region. Even though efforts have been made to counter illegal logging, in 2013, deforestation saw a ⅓ increase over previous years. If you have ever seen the movie Fern Gully, you will understand the horror behind logging. (If you haven't seen it and have kids, or love animated movies, do yourself a favor and watch it!)
Combination of Issues
All three issues, farming, mining, and logging, share the responsibility for the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Any and all industrial activities in the forest require the building of roads of some sort. The construction that goes along with these activities claims 600 square kilometers of the forest with every 40 meters of road. The level of destruction can not continue. The continuous loss of the rainforests in general can lead to devastating global effects. If the tropical rainforests continue to decrease in size, countless species will be wiped from existence.
How To Save The Rainforests
Bold new ideas are constantly being thought up to save these wondrous biomes. Governments and companies are finally starting to realize the value of goods and services that we get from healthy forests. These include carbon storage, buffers against floods and drought cycles, along with safeguarding water supplies. These values are being seen as reasons to protect our tropical rainforests.
In addition, local and indigenous communities have been seen as the best stewards of these forests. More and more, they are being seen as allies instead of enemies in conservation. There is a growing movements to help these communities win the legal rights to manage their traditional lands and get it out of government and company hands.
Scientists, along with journalists have been gaining important and valuable knowledge of what actually happens in these tropical rainforests. With the help of modern technology, conservationists, scientists and environmentalists are able to monitor the happenings of the forest and find better ways to reap the benefits as well as develop new tools to help keep the environment healthy and thriving.
What Can You Do?
The things regular people like us can do to help preserve the tropical rainforests is simple. Do not support companies who continue to support deforestation practices. Buy local and organic to support local farmers which will lessen our dependence on foreign sources. Spread the word about the rainforests all over the world and raise awareness for the threats that these tropical rainforests face. There is a lot of work to be done to save our Earth. We are the cause of the problems, but we can also be the solution.