Rainforests

What is a Rainforest?

The reason they are called Rainforests is because of the high amout of rainfall they get per year. To be a rainforest, an area needs to have a high yearly rainfall: typically over 200 cm (79 inches) per year.

Rainforest is a term for a forest of broad-leaved evergreen trees and are usually associated with tropical and subtropical regions of the world. 

Rainforests with thick, tangled plant growth at ground level have historically been referred to as jungles, where if there is enough light, there can be a dense growth of vines, small trees and other plants. Jungles can occur in areas where tall trees have fallen to create open habitat that allows sunlight to enter.

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  • There are two different types of rainforests: Tropical and Temperate. A main different between tropical rainforests and temperate rainforest is climate. Another difference between tropical rainforests and temperate rainforests are types of trees.


Tropical rainforest

  • are found close to the equator and between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

  • are found in Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.

  • Tropical rainforests are moist and very warm all year round.

  • Tropical rainforests have hundreds of different kinds of trees.

  • The largest tropical rainforest is the Amazon. It covers 1.4 billion acres.

  • The largest part of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil but it also covers areas of Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, Bolivia, Suriname and French Guiana.

  • The Amazon, Mekong, Orinoco and Congo Rivers all flow through rainforests.

  • Tropical rainforest trees form a canopy. Canopies are formed when the tree branches and leaves overlap each other.


Temperate rainforest 

  • are mostly found in cooler climates of the Pacific Northwest, from Northern California up through Canada and Alaska.

  • Chile, Tasmania, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, Norway also have small temperate rainforests.

  • Temperate rainforest are cool in the winter and warm in the summer.

  • Temperate rainforests have three different types of trees:Deciduous trees- trees that lose their leaves in the fall
    Coniferous trees- trees that have leaves that look like pointy..
    Evergreen trees- trees that always stay green

  • Rainforests are found on every continent except for Antarctica.

  • 100 inches or more rain falls in rainforests every year.

  • Rainforests only cover 6% of the Earth’s surface yet helf the world's animals, plants and insects live in the rainforest.

  • A lot of the Earth's oxygen comes from the rainforest


  • Not only is the rainforest home to many plants, animals and insects but to also indigenous people.

  • Many tribes call the rainforest home. They often live the same as the tribes who lived there centuries before them.

  • Most indigenous people have no contact with the world outside the rainforest.

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Animals in the rainforest

Scientists believe that many animals, insects and plants are living in the rainforest that have not been discovered yet.

  • Canopies create shelter and hiding places for animals and insects.

  • Scientists estimate that between 60%-90% of life in the rainforest are found in the trees.

Animals and reptiles that live in rainforest habitats include:

  • boa constrictor

  • capybara

  • forest elephant

  • giant anteater

  • jaguar

  • macaw

  • marmoset

  • poison dart frog

  • sloth

  • spider monkey

  • tamarin

  • tapir

  • toucan

  • tree frog

A typical four square mile patch of rainforest contains as many as 1,500 flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 400 species of birds and 150 species of butterflies.

Deforestation

It is very important that the rainforest are protected, not just for the animals and plants that live there, but for all of us. 20% of the oxygen that we all need to breath is produced in the rainforest.

Our rainforests are shrinking due to deforestation. The rainforests are important to Earth and home to many people, plants, animals and insects. Scientists are trying to figure out ways to save the rainforests.


The rainforest habitats are in danger. they are getting smaller and smaller each year.

This is because of mining, cutting down trees to use the wood to make things, making space for farmland by cutting the trees down and by building roads.


Deforestation is when forests are destroyed by cutting and not replanted. Sometimes deforestation happens when people change the land into farms, ranches and cities. A lot of deforestation is caused by the removal of all the trees from a forest for wood or fuel. Without the forest, the habitats of the animals are lost and many animals die. It also results in global warming (climate change).

The world's rainforests are currently disappearing at a rate of 6000 acres every hour (this is about 4000 football fields per hour).   When these forests are cut down, the plants and animals that live in the forests are destroyed, and some species are at risk of being made extinct.  Further, as the large-scale harvesting of lumber from the rain forests continues, the balance of the earth's eco-system is disrupted.  We need the rain forests to produce oxygen and clean the atmosphere to help us breathe.  We also know that the earth's climate can be affected, as well as the water cycle.  Rainforests also provide us with many valuable medicinal plants, and may be a source of a cure from some deadly diseases.

Forests have the following functions:-

  • regulation of the water cycle

  • production of soil

  • provide habitat for animals

  • provide most of our oxygen

  • maintain the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in the atmosphere

  • regulation of temperature

  • prevent soil erosion

What do we get from the Rainforest?

Many of the things we have in our homes comes from the rainforest.

These include:

  • medicine

  • chocolate - Chocolate is made from cocoa. Cocoa pods grow on trees in rainforests.

  • sugar

  • spices - includes ginger, allspice, pepper, cinnamon, coconut, vanilla, turmeric and paprika.

  • rubber

  • pineapples

  • bamboo



What are the different layers of a Rainforest Called?

There are four main parts of a Rainforest. They are:


Emergent Layer - very sunny because it is the very top. Only the tallest trees reach this level.


Who lives here? birds, butterflies and small monkeys live with bats, snakes and bugs.


Canopy Layer - much of the rain is stopped by the thick foliage. Most trees in the forest grow to this height. There are plants that grow in the canopy layer. Their roots don't reach the ground. These are called air plants.


Who lives here? birds, monkeys, frogs, and sloths, as well as lizards, snakes and many insects.

Understory Layer - many vines, dense vegetation, not much light.


Who lives here? birds, butterflies, frogs and snakes

Forest Floor - dark, damp, full of many dead leaves, twigs and dead plants. The forest floor is dark due to the trees above stopping the sunlight from entering the forest. It is estimated that only 2% of the sunlight actually reaches the floor.


Who lives here? jaguars in South America, gorillas and leopards in Africa and tapirs and tigers and elephants in Asia.

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NAMES OF POPULAR RAINFORESTS

Amazon- 

located in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Suriname and French Guiana

Daintree Rainforest- 

Australia

Mount Kinabalu National Park – 

Malaysia

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Costa Rica

Montecristo Cloud Rainforest – 

El Salvador

Sinharaja Forest – 

Sir Lanka

Sapo National Park– 

Liberia

Tongass National Forest – 

Alaska

Pacific Temperate Rainforest – 

Western North America