The Rain Forest


The destruction of the rainforest is a problem that the people of the
world can not continue to ignore. 14 percent of the Earth\'s land used to be
covered by rainforests yet this number has dropped significantly to only about 6
percent (http://www.ran.org/ran/info_center/index.html). Rainforests provide
the people of the world with many necessities, some of which would no longer be
available if rainforests did not exist. In the last 50 years, rainforests have
declined at a terrifying speed of 150 acres per minute or 75 million acres per
year (http://www.ran.org/ran/info_center/index.html). People must open their
eyes to the horrible tragedy that will inevitably occur if the citizens of the
world do not realize the seriousness of this problem.
To better understand the importance of the rainforest, one must be
knowledgeable about what a rainforest actually is. The two main types of
rainforests are temperate and tropical. Tropical rainforests are located in
Latin and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and other areas in which
temperatures stay above 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round. They can be found in
85 countries all over the world, however, 90 percent of them are concentrated
into fifteen countries, each containing over ten million hectares. Tropical
rainforests receive 160 to 400 inches of rain each year. Although these dense,
damp forests cover just 5 percent of the Earth\'s surface, they can provide homes
for between 50 and 90 percent of the Earth\'s plants and animals
(http://www.davesite.com/rainforests/review1.shtml).
Tropical rainforests consist of three distinct layers referred to as the
forest floor, the understory, and the canopy. The forest floor contains very
poor soil which is mainly due to the trees not allowing for ample sunlight to
reach the ground. Because only one to two percent of the light at the top of
the forest\'s canopy manages to reach the floor below, photosynthesis ceases to
exist. On top of the soil lies a thin layer of the remains of millions of dead
trees, plants, and animals which are quickly broken down by the numerous number
of organisms on the floor (Nichol 45). It contains a variety of insects as well
as larger mammals such as gorillas and jaguars. The understory is home to
smaller mammals such as anteaters, lemurs, and tree kangaroos. It also contains
small trees and numerous shrubs. The top layer, the canopy, is made up of the
tops of trees which can grow to be over 200 feet in height. Here, trees receive
the necessary sunlight to undergo photosynthesis which is crucial for the
survival of the forest as a whole. Many tropical birds, monkeys, apes, snakes,
and other animals reside in the canopy
(http://www.davesite.com/rainforests/review1.shtml).
Temperate rainforests are located along the Pacific coast of Canada, the
United States, New Zealand, Tasmania, Chile, Ireland, as well as Scotland and
Norway. Most temperate rainforests are much younger than tropical rainforests
only being less than 10, 000 years old. The temperate rainforests differ from
the tropical in that their soil is full of much more nutrients. Temperate
rainforests are also much more scarce than tropical rainforests
(http://www.davesite.com/rainforests/review1.shtml).
The rainforests of the world are homes to just about every group of
animals known to man and it would be impossible to give recognition to them all.
The only animals that appear to be few in number are large mammals. The largest
animal of the rainforest is thought to be the okapi, "a shy, elusive beast from
west Africa (Nichol 56)." Gorillas, apes, the orang-utan of the Far East,
gibbons, and chimps which can grow to the size of a human are also among the
larger animals in the forest. A wide variety of monkeys including the tiniest
monkeys in the world, the pigmy marmoset, live among the trees in the South
American rainforests (Nichol 61).
One of the rarest primates in the world, the golden lion tamarin, lives
in a very small portion of the rainforest in Brazil. These breathtakingly
beautiful little monkeys resemble golden toys and it is believed that only 150
survive in the wild. Without the rainforest, these precious treasures would be
lost forever (Nichol 61).
Over 100 types of birds including the spix macaw, hoatzin, and a
numerous variety of parrots would be extinct if the rainforests were non-
existent. Many birds of the rainforest appear seasonally, or when the trees
begin to bud. Other rare animals in the rainforest include the Javan rhinos,
capybaras, and the giraffe stag beetle (Nichol 71).
The rainforest has a larger diversity of plants than any other area on
Earth. For example, "a single hectare in Kenya\'s Kakamega Forest may host
between 100 and 150 different tree species, compared to only about 10 different
species in a hectare of