On June 22 every year the world sets aside this day to learn about the rainforests and to acknowledge their importance.
According to Nationaltoday.com, “World Rainforest Day aims to encourage people to learn more about rainforests and join efforts to protect and preserve these forests for generations to come. Rainforests have been disappearing and taking the rich diversity of flora and fauna with them because of increasing deforestation and climate change. World Rainforest Day was instituted to halt this disappearance by reminding people of the importance of rainforests.”
WHAT IS A RAINFOREST?
A rainforest is a region with a thick, evergreen canopy of tall trees in areas of constant precipitation. The canopy is a stratum of branches and leaves on the highest trees. The canopy can be about 100 feet above the ground or more, and is not the location where most plants and animals live.
Scientists agree that nearly half of the Earth’s plants and animals live in rainforests. Many of them are vulnerable and can survive only in this habitat.
WHERE ARE RAINFORESTS LOCATED?
Rainforests are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. However, some are temperate rainforests
Image Source: https://scienceworldbiomes.weebly.com/tropical-rainforest.html
Temperate rainforests are located in temperate regions between the tropics and the poles with high rainfall of more than 55 inches per year and average temperatures between 39 and 54°F. These rainforests may receive moisture from fog and snow as well. While tropical rainforests have little differentiation between seasons, temperate rainforests have seasonal variations.
They can exist in very small areas, if the environment is correct. When visiting Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, I learned that the plume of spray from the waterfall, which is over a mile wide on the Zambezi River, creates a small rainforest of about 600 acres growing alongside and opposite the falls.
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org/Victoria,_Zambia
In the past, it was generally believed the most important factor about rainforests was their contribution to the world’s oxygen supply (sometimes called “turn over”). Today, while there stills seems to be general agreement among scientists that the rainforests are of importance to the world, there is a definite split between those experts who believe in a much higher contribution of the world’s oxygen generated by rainforests than others.
Emozzy.com indicates that, “Rainforests are responsible for 28 percent of the planet’s turnover, sometimes misnamed oxygen production, [4%] by managing them through carbon dioxide photosynthesis and breathing.”
However, Sarah Sambolich, NBC Naturalist, writing for a 2014 publication in Newportbay.org, states, “There is a misconception that the rainforests contribute significantly to the oxygen we breathe. In reality, the animals and microscopic life living in the rainforest consume most of the oxygen. As a result, the net production of oxygen by the rainforest or any forest is actually close to zero.” newportbay.org/ask-a-naturalist
She goes on to point out that the belief that 20% of the Earth’s oxygen supply is contributed by rainforests is incorrect and notes that the Amazon rainforests has been plagued by fires that reduce the oxygen supply for the ecosystem.
One of the most important worldwide functions is the rainforest’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and increase local humidity. Rainforests play an important role in stabilizing the climate and maintaining the water cycle.
On a more local scale, they also protect against flood, drought, and erosion, and are a resource for food, medicine, and other products.
THE BIGGEST TROPICAL RAINFORESTS
Forest of the Amazon (South America)
Size: 2,250,000 square miles
Location: Brazil (60% of forest), Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia,
Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana
The Republic of Congo (Africa)
Size: 687,262 square miles
Location: Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central
African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea
Image Credit: Photo / Getty
Image Source: nzherald.co.nz/world/the-congo-rainforest
Size: About 303,000 square miles
Location: Australiasia is a bit confusing. It is billed as the third largest rainforest, but exactly what area it includes depends on the source you are using.
One group of references describe it as non-contiguous rainforests in a region incorporating New Guinea, Northeastern Australia and strings of smaller islands that used to be connected to one another during the Ice Age. One variation to the non-contiguous group also indicated New Zealand.
The other definition is a contiguous rainforest on the island of New Guinea, which is split into two territories: The eastern half is part of Papua New Guinea, and the western half is part of Indonesia. This island covers about 303,000 square miles.
The ecosystems of the Daintree Rainforest are some of the most complex on Earth. Its plant diversity and structural complexity is unrivalled on the arid Australian continent.
Unfortunately, the UNESCO protected area does not extend to all of the Daintree with residential development, climate change and invasive plants and species all a threat.
Size: 197,000 square miles
Location: Malay Peninsula on mainland Southeast Asia and the nearby islands
of Sumatra, Java and Borneo. It spans several countries: Indonesia,
Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and Singapore.
Sundaland (also called Sundaica or the Sundaic region) probably will not be show on your home atlas. It comprises the portion of South-eastern Asia which was a larger land mass for the last 2.6 million years during ages when sea levels were lower. It includes Bali, Borneo, Java, and Sumatra in Indonesia, and their surrounding islands.
WHAT IS CAUSING THE LOSS OF THE RAINFORESTS?
The loss of almost every habitat in the world is primarily due to the growth of the human population and our lack of environmental conservation in the process of growth. In the past we might have written that last off to ignorance but that it no longer an excuse.
The main causes of loss of rainforest are:
● Agriculture, including unsustainable agriculture and pastoral farming.
●Logging, including illegal logging and logging for valuable trees like mahogany.
●Mining, including mining for natural resources such as iron ore, copper, tin, aluminium, manganese and gold.
● Industrial development.
● Large dams
It is not hard to see where and why the conflicts occur. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
JUST SAYIN’ !