Tropical rainforests exist within the equatorial zone between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
Tropical rainforests can be described in two words: warm and wet.
But there is much more to them than that simple description might indicate. The mean monthly temperatures in these forests never falls below 18 °C (64°F), and the average annual rainfall is no less than 168 cm (66 in) – and can exceed 1,000 cm (390 in).
Our Life Daily team has put together some interesting facts about tropical rainforests.
Browse and learn:
- Tropical rainforests have high levels of biodiversity. Around 40% to 75% of all biotic species are indigenous to the rainforests.
- Rainforests are home to half of all the living animal and plant species on the planet.
- Two-thirds of all flowering plants can be found in rainforests.
- A single hectare of rainforest may contain 42,000 different species of insect, up to 807 trees of 313 species and 1,500 species of higher plants.
- Tropical rainforests have been called the “world’s largest pharmacy”, because over one quarter of natural medicines have been discovered within them.
- Rainforests are found all over the world from as far north as Alaska and Canada to Latin America, Asia and Africa, and on every continent across the Earth, except Antarctica.
- There are two major types of rainforest: temperate rainforests and tropical rainforests.
- Rainforests act as the world’s thermostat by regulating temperatures and weather patterns.
- One-fifth of the world’s fresh water is found in the Amazon Basin.
- Rainforests are critical in maintaining the Earth’s limited supply of drinking and fresh water.
- Seventy percent of the plants identified by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as useful in the treatment of cancer are found only in rainforests.
- Less than one percent of the tropical rainforest species have been analyzed for their medicinal value.
- Rainforests are threatened by unsustainable agricultural, ranching, mining and logging practices.
- Before 1500 A.D., there were approximately 6 million indigenous people living in the Brazilian Amazon. But as the forests disappeared, so too did the people. In the early 1900s, there were less than 250,000 indigenous people living in the Amazon.
- Originally, 6 million square miles of tropical rainforest existed worldwide. But as a result of deforestation, only 2.6 million square miles remain.
- At the current rate of tropical forest loss, 5–10 percent of tropical rainforest species will be lost per decade.
- Nearly 90 percent of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods.
- Fifty-seven percent of the world’s forests, including most tropical forests, are located in developing countries.
- Every second, a slice of rainforest the size of a football field is mowed down. That’s 86,400 football fields of rainforest per day, or over 31 million football fields of rainforest each year.
- More than 56,000 square miles of natural forest are lost each year.
Do you understand better why tropical rainforests are so essential?
How do you feel about what is happening to them? Share your thoughts by using the comments feed provided below.