Rainforests are home to an astonishing array of animals and plants. From giant spiders the size of dogs to adorable rainforest monkeys, there’s much to discover in these magnificent ecosystems.
Environmentalists appreciate their importance to our planet’s water cycle: forests absorb rainfall and release it through evapotranspiration; as well as providing homes to some unusual creatures such as Asian stinkhorn fungi or rival strawberry poison dart frogs.
1. It’s home to half of the world’s plants and animals
People may be amazed to discover that rainforests contain half of all plant and animal species on earth! Their rich diversity can be attributed to tropical rainforests’ nearly ideal conditions, with temperatures remaining between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round while providing ample sunlight and moisture for plant and animal life.
As well as providing food and shelter, rainforests also produce timber, coffee, cocoa and medicines derived from tropical rainforest plants – over one quarter of all medicines used by humans are produced here! Rainforests also boast immense biodiversity with thousands of tree species and millions of invertebrate life such as ants – scientists even discovered 50 different ant species on one tree alone in Peruvian Rainforest!
Most rainforest animals we’re familiar with include jaguars, tarantulas, parrots and gorillas – well-known examples include jaguars, tarantulas, parrots and gorillas – while many endangered animals such as forest elephants, aye-ayes and even the rare okapi are also living within its confines.
Piranhas are another fascinating rainforest animal to watch out for; they can often be found in tropical rain forests. Contrary to what many movies portray them as, these fish tend not to be as aggressive; in fact, if cornered they tend to flee from potential attacks and flee instead of attacking prey.
Rainforests provide shelter to an abundance of other species, too. Gorillas help spread seeds across sun-dappled areas in Central Africa’s rainforests where new trees may sprout; forest elephants also play an integral part in these African forests by clearing understory vegetation to allow light into the canopy and allow it to reach it more directly.
Rainforests are home not only to plants and animals, but also tribes of uncontacted peoples who remain unseen by modern civilization and practice traditional hunting and farming in the rainforest.
2. It’s home to a quarter of all medicines
Rainforests are filled with life, but they also have much to offer us as humans. These unique ecosystems house one-quarter of all medicines used worldwide including lifesaving ones like insulin. Plus they produce fruits and vegetables like bananas, avocados and coffee in addition to being rich sources of timber, cocoa beans and spices like cinnamon and vanilla!
Water bodies provide homes to some of our planet’s wildest animals – from tigers and panthers to lions, monkeys, birds and more – while being home to one quarter of all plant species on Earth.
Tragically, rainforests are being destroyed at an alarmingly rapid pace due to logging, agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, government road building projects and hydroelectric schemes, new settlements and human settlements – with each destruction leading to new diseases that humans had never before witnessed.
Tropical rainforests contain plants that provide us with many of the medicines we require, accounting for an impressive 25% of all medicine used in healthcare systems today. One such medicine found here is quinine, used to treat malaria; this comes from bark from a tree known as the cinchona tree.
Tropical rainforests are also an increasingly popular ecotourism destination. This type of tourism has the power to provide locals with steady income while simultaneously supporting conservation efforts. Ecotourism has played an essential role in saving our rainforests and their inhabitants – but more needs to be done in protecting this precious ecosystems before we lose them forever.
3. It’s home to 20 million people
Rainforests provide shelter and sustenance to over 20 million people residing within their boundaries, including rural and urban populations alike. People rely on these lush forests for food, shelter, wood products and medicine; water supply; soil support and energy. Rainforests produce over half of our planet’s oxygen.
Contrasting with the sunnier areas below, rainforest canopy conditions remain constantly wet and warm, providing all that plant life requires for success to flourish – this may explain why some trees reach 100ft (30.5m). Furthermore, its shade protects from wind and rain as well as restricting shrub growth while keeping insects at bay.
Animals in the rainforest canopy have also adapted to its conditions, taking advantage of its dense shade to communicate. With broad leaves obscuring much of the sunlight, many canopy animals use loud calls or songs as forms of communication with each other; gaps between trees allow canopy animals to fly, glide or leap between them; some species even possess waxy leaves as water-retention devices!
Forests provide shelter to an abundance of fish and amphibians, including the poison dart frog – unique to Amazon Rainforest; its venom can kill an adult human in as little as 2.5 milliliters!
The Amazon rainforest is also home to numerous uncontacted tribes that live beyond modern society, hunting and gathering their food while using the forests for medicines, tools and construction materials. According to estimates 67 tribes of uncontacted people reside in Brazil’s rainforest while 44 reside in Papua New Guinea’s.
4. It’s home to a critical part of the water cycle
Rainforests play a crucial role in maintaining our world’s water cycle, contributing much-needed rainfall while helping keep pollution and debris from washing into rivers and drinking water sources. Furthermore, they serve to slow down rainwater runoff to underground storage reserves more quickly.
They provide habitat to many unique species not found elsewhere on Earth, including some that are endangered, like birds, reptiles and insects, cougars, Bengal tigers, orangutans and jaguars. If we act wisely we can save these endangered species.
There are countless facts about rainforests you might not be aware of; here are just a few things to keep in mind:
Rainforests often consist of four layers. The canopy layer consists of dense foliage where most trees grow to their full height, home to monkeys, birds of prey and butterflies. Below this level lies dense vegetation growing understory-style; here plants grow large leaves in order to capture any light that does shine down, providing shelter to amphibians, snakes and lizards as well.
Decomposers such as termites, worms and fungi live on the forest floor to break down organic material into nutrients that can then be taken up by tree roots through shallow roots. Animals such as wild pigs and anteaters hunt these creatures to survive.
Rainforests are essential components of Earth’s ecosystem, and we must preserve them to safeguard its future health. Deforestation poses the biggest threat to rainforests today; to maintain as much of the eco-system intact as possible is important if we want to continue reaping their many advantages. Without them, none of us could experience their benefits!
5. It’s home to uncontacted peoples
The world’s rainforests are home to some of the most fascinating and unique creatures on Earth, from okapis – the largest nocturnal primate – and Kodkod wildcats – to some of its mysterious peoples, like isolated tribes who use their deep knowledge of forest ecosystems for food, shelter and medicine; often refusing contact with outsiders such as planes and helicopters flying overhead, to Awa tribe members living on the move who build houses quickly before abandoning them days later; their primary threats come from loggers, miners, ranchers settlers looking for new territories.
Rainforests provide vital habitat for an abundance of animal species, from river fish and forest elephants to timber, coffee beans and medicinal plants. Rainforests play an integral part in providing freshwater to communities all over the globe and serve as part of their water cycle – providing vitally needed freshwater supplies that sustain life around the globe. Rainforests also play an integral part in timber production, coffee production and medicinal plant resources as part of this precious cycle.
Although rainforests provide many invaluable services, it is alarming that they are being destroyed at such an alarming rate. Without rainforests protecting us from disease transmission, pandemic-type epidemics could quickly emerge that we lack natural immunity against. Therefore, it’s critical that we protect them as soon as possible by making donations or downloading Twinkl’s rainforest activities to Twinkl today – you could help make a difference!