The Rainforest

There are rainforests all around the world. Though a rainforest in South America may have many different types of animals and plants from a rainforest in Africa, what they all do have in common is:heat, humidity, rain, and very tall trees. Rainforests get at least 80 inches (200 cm) of rain per year and have an average temperature of about 80°F (26°C). Rainforest trees are so tall because they are competing for the sunlight they need in a forest thick with vegetation. All this heat, moisture, and humidity make a very fertile environment. Scientists believe that rainforests may contain more than half of all the earth's species of animals and plants. This is called biodiversity. The rainforest is famous for its biodiversity because it has so many different species, and a lot of them haven't even been discovered yet!

Rainforests Help You Breathe!

Rainforests are very valuable to our global environment because their dense greenery collects more sunlight than any other habitat in the world. There is a lot of photosynthesis going on in the rainforest and that is a big part of the oxygen cycle. Think of all those trees taking in carbon dioxide and releasing the oxygen we need. Rainforests are like giant, green filters for our atmosphere.

Losing Our Rainforests

Rainforests are also valuable because of their many kinds of animals, plants, and giant trees. Rainforests all over the world are being cut for timber. When the trees are gone, all the animals, insects, and plants go too. The environment is totally changed. The humidity that clung to the trees evaporates away. Erosion washes the thin soil away. Rainforest land is often cleared and burned for farmland, even though the soil is thin and not very good for growing crops. It is estimated that more than 35 million acres of rainforest are being cleared every year. Since rainforests are so important for decreasing carbon dioxide and creating oxygen for the oxygen cycle, no one knows for sure what will happen when all the rainforests are gone.

Many of the animals on the endangered species list live in rainforests. They include:

  • Aye-aye

  • Chimpanzee

  • Gibbon

  • Gorilla

  • Jaguar

  • Lemur

  • Ocelot

  • Orangutan

  • Mountain tapir

  • Tiger

  • Ecotourism

    Many countries, like Costa Rica, have discovered how saving their rainforests can make them money! The beautiful rainforest habitat brings tourists into Costa Rica to see wild places. This is called ecotourism and is a great way to get countries to save some of their vanishing forests. Costa Rica has put aside 12 percent of its land as wild rainforest. It may not seem like much, but that area of rainforest will be protected and that is a very good thing.

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