Rainforests are luxuriant, dense forests rich in biodiversity, found typically in tropical areas with consistently heavy rainfall.
Here are a few interesting facts about rainforests and why they are vital for our existence.
Types of Rainforest
There are two types of rainforests: temperate and tropical. Temperate rainforests are spread across some coastlines in temperate zones including the Pacific coast of North America, south east coast of Chile, and smaller areas in Norway, UK, Japan, southern Australia, and New Zealand.
Tropical Rainforests, range from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. These include the Congo in Central Africa, the Western Ghats in India, and the Amazon in South America.
Rainforests are the planet’s oldest surviving ecosystem, and they are the most concentrated areas of biodiversity on Earth.
Home to Half of all Living Forms
Even though they cover less than 6 percent of the planet’s surface, rainforests house more than half of the all the living plant and animal species on earth including millions of undiscovered microorganisms, insects, plants, and small animals. A significant number of these animal and plant species will go extinct if we continue to destroy the world’s rainforests. Some even before they are discovered!
Food for all
More than two-thirds of the global plant species grow in the tropical rainforests.
Tropical rainforests receive abundant sunlight, and hence conduct a lot photosynthesis to convert sunlight into stored energy, which in turn supports the teeming life in the rainforests.
Rainforests help stabilize the planet’s climate and also fight pollution by absorbing a major portion of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Rainforests are nearly self-watering, and they play a key role in regulating rainfall and maintaining the water balance in the ecosystems.
A football field size area of the rainforests may have more than 400 species of trees.
Many of the plant species found in rainforests have medicinal properties that help fight diseases like cancer, leukaemia, and heart diseases. Almost 70 per cent of the plants that have been identified to have known anti-cancer properties can be found only in the rainforests.
Researchers have also discovered many medical uses for the chemicals that many rainforests plants secrete in order to ward of insect predators. Although barely 1 per cent of the world’s tropical plants have been pharmaceutically tested, a quarter of all modern drugs originate from rainforests.
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While many plants like the orchids have been successfully cultivated outside the rainforests, some species like the Brazil nut tree refuse to be grown outside their Amazon home.
The trees of a tropical rainforest are so densely packed that rain falling on the canopy can take as long as 10 minutes to reach the ground.
India has a tropical rain forest. It is always hot, humid and sticky. The temperature is between 70 degrees and 90 degrees Farenheit.
In India you can find rain forests in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Western Ghats. In the Himalayan foothills (the Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts) there are smaller rain forests.
What’s threatening the Rainforests
Big business, mining, farming, need for timber are some of the reasons why rainforests are rapidly being eradicated in many parts of the world. About 2,000 trees per minute are cut down in the rainforests. But because of the sheer size and the biodiversity of the rainforests, what is happening to them may have an effect on the rest of the world. More pollution, lesser rainfall, drastic weather changes, threat to the existence of many animals are some of the perils that we face without rainforests.
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