Monday, April 20, 2015

Rainforests: What are they? Why Do They Matter?

What do you know about rainforests? Here is a quick tutorial:

All rainforests are located close to the equator, which means they are warm all year long. They get large amounts of rainfall--more than 150 cm per year, or about 5 feet.  Minneapolis usually gets about 30 inches in a year (raining an average of 117 days in a year). Most of the rain that falls in rainforests comes from their own habitat: there is so much moisture in the air and the ground all the time, it creates its own rain on a fairly continual basis.

Rainforests only take up about 6% of the earth's surface, and yet they house more than half the plant and animal species that exist on Earth--more than 30 million. These dense forests grow trees that are very tall.

You can find rainforests in Central America, the Amazon, Africa and specifically Madagascar, South Asia, and Australasia, a term for Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea.

Please tell me you know where Madagascar is......
Did you know that rainforests provide many medicines we use to treat diseases? Here are some:
  • Quinone - used to treat malaria
  • Curare - for bruises, fever, edema, kidney stones; also a muscle relaxant
  • Wild Yams - used in birth control pills
  • Trumpet Tree - for respiratory issues and to treat rheumatism
  • Cocoa Tree - source for the Novocain your dentist uses, as well as to treat anxiety, fever, cough, kidney stones, and cuts
  • Clavilla - infections
  • Mammosa - sinus problems and lesions
  • Periwinkle - Hodgkins Disease and leukemia
  • Annato - to lower blood pressure
--and barely 1% of all rainforest plants have been identified as medicinal: there are probably many more we haven't yet discovered.

                                                 A rainforest orchid
Rainforests also grow the following:
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Rubber
  • Pineapples
  • Palm trees *if you use lipstick or eat ice cream, those things have palm oil in them.

Over 50 million people live in the rainforests, mostly native tribes that have lived there for centuries. Here is an example of  tribe names:

Rainforest People of Africa: Eastern Africa
Acholi, Afar, Agaw, Akisho, Alur, Amhara, Ankole, Anuak, Aweer, Ayoup, Baganda, Bagisu, Bagwere, Bakiga, Bakonjo, Basoga, Batoro, Bertat, Betsileo, Bilen, Bisa, Borana, Bunyoro, Daasanach, Chagga, Chokwe, Chopi, Dorze, Gumuz, Gurage, Hadzabe, Hamer, Haya, Hehe, Hutu, Inamwanga, Iteso, Jeberti, Jopadhola, Kalenjin, Kamba, Karamojong, Kichepo, Kikuyu, Kisii, Lango, Lugbara, Luhya, Luo, Maasai, Makonde, Makua, Manyika, Me'en, Merina, Meru, Munyoyaya, Mursi, Ndau, Nguni, Nuba, Nubians, Nuer, Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, Nyangatom, Ogiek, Oromo, Qemant, Rer Bare, Rundi, Sena, Sengwer, Shangana, Shanqella, Shona, Sidama, Sukuma, Suri, Tigre, Tigray-Tigrinya, Tirma, Tutsi, Watha, Welayta, Welega Oromo, Yao, Yiaku and Zay.

                         In a South American rainforest, people have built huts on stilts to live in.

The majority of them never leave their  communities and speak only their tribal languages. They live off the land, but the land is being destroyed through fire, harvesting plants, logging and tourism. Thus, these tribes of people are becoming extinct, and when they disappear, all their knowledge of their habitat goes with them. 

Animals that are found in rainforests:

  • Ants. Lots and lots of ants. One scientist identified 43 different species of ants on one tree in Peru!
  • Brightly colored and loud-mouthed birds:

                                   Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, found in Panama
                                               Raggiana Bird of Paradise, New Guinea
    • Orangutans and gorillas

    • Many species of frogs grow only in the rainforests.

    A red-eyed tree frog 


    Now that you know a bit about rainforests, consider how we can save them.

    The first and most important way is to conserve water. Did you know you save up to 3.5 gallons of water when you recycle a newspaper?

    Other ways to save water:
    ***Take shorter showers
    ***If you have a leaking pipe, fix it: drips turn into gallons wasted
    ***Don't buy exotic animals. They belong in the rainforest, not anywhere else.
    ***Check out where your coffee, bananas, or tea is grown and buy only products approved by the Rainforest Alliance.
    ***Plant trees to replace those harvested to make paper products and building supplies

    Visit the Rainforest Alliance at:

                 Multiple waterfalls in a rainforest. Do we really want this to disappear?

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.