Do you want to learn some interesting facts about rainforests? Rainforests cover a whopping 12.5% of Earth’s land, making them a very important part of our world! And did you know rainforests are home to half of the world’s animal and plant species? Well in this guide, I have identified 25 fascinating facts about rainforests that you may not know! Read on to learn more…
Brief background on rainforests
Rainforests are a vital part of our ecosystem. They help regulate the Earth’s climate and weather patterns. They also give us value in terms of economic resources, environmental benefits, scientific research, and environmental recreation. However, the reason a rainforest is called a “rainforest” is because of the high amount of rainfall it receives each year.
You may know that greater the rain area receives, the better the vegetation. The average rainfall for a rainforest is 80 inches or about 2,000 millimeters. Stats also states that rain falls on the rainforest floor about 200 days out of 365 days of the year.
There are two major types of rainforests, tropical and temperate. Other types include seasonal rainforests, dry/moist deciduous forests, and Semi-evergreen forests throughout the world.
The tropical rainforests are found near the Earth’s equator. They are warm year-round, with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius or 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperate rainforests, on the other hand, are found in the Pacific Northwest of North America and parts of Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. They have cooler temperatures with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tropical rainforests are home to about half of the World’s animal and plant species. Scientists believe there may be 30 million species of plants and animals in the tropical rainforests. However, they have only discovered 1.4 million of these species so far.
In contrast, temperate rainforests are not as bio-diverse as tropical rainforests. They only have about 2,000 species of plants and animals. So, that was a brief introduction to rainforests. Now, let’s jump into the 25 fascinating facts about rainforests.
Fascinating Facts About Rainforests
OK, so now that we have a basic understanding of what rainforests are, lets take a look at some facts about rainforests. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to be amazed by these 25 fascinating facts about rainforests!
1. Earth’s Oldest Living Ecosystems
Surprisingly, rainforests are the Earth’s oldest living ecosystems. They first appeared on Earth about 300 million years ago. One of the oldest rainforests that still exist today is the Daintree Rainforest. It is located in Australia and is estimated to be about 180 million years old. Now that is one of the most important facts about rainforests.
2. Rainforests Are Found On Every Continent Except Antarctica
Interestingly, rainforests are found on every continent except Antarctica. This means rainforests can be found on any other continents including, North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The greatest number of rainforests are in the continent of Africa and America.
3. The World’s Largest Rainforest
The Amazon rainforest is the World’s largest rainforest. It covers a massive area of 2.1 million square miles or 5.5 million square kilometers. This is about 40% of the South American continent.
The Amazon rainforest is so big that it even stretches to nine different countries, including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. According to experts, the Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the World’s oxygen. This another of the most important facts about rainforests!
4. Every Single Rainforest On Earth Is Disturbed By Humans
This is one of the saddest facts about rainforests. Unfortunately, there is not a single rainforest on Earth that is not disturbed by humans. This means we humans harm all rainforests in some way or another. Some of the notable impacts include logging, mining, and agriculture.
As a result, rainforests are being depleted at an alarming rate. It is estimated that we are losing 18.7 million acres of rainforest annually which is equal to 27 soccer fields every minute.
5. A Rainforest Is a Home To About Half Of The World’s Animal And Plant Species
Rainforests are home to about half of the World’s animal and plant species. This means rainforests are the best habitat for millions of species of plants and animals. According to a study, almost 30 million species are in the rainforests.
6. The Amazon Rainforest Has The World’s Largest River
The Amazon rainforest is home to the World’s largest river, the Amazon River. This river is about 4,000 miles long, and its basin covers an area of about 2.7 million square miles. The Amazon River has over 3,000 different species of fish, more than any other river in the World.
7. Rainforests Cover Around 6 To 8 Percent Of The Earth’s Land Surface
Despite being home to half of the World’s animal and plant species, rainforests only cover around 6 to 8 percent of the Earth’s land.
In the past, they used to cover a much larger area of the Earth’s surface. However, rainforests are being destroyed, and their size is rapidly shrinking due to human activities, such as cattle ranching, dam-building, agriculture, logging, and so on. This is another one of the most important facts about rainforests.
8. Rainforests Play A Vital Role In Cloud Formation
Rainforests are significant in global climate change as they help to maintain the water cycle. The trees in the rainforests release water vapor into the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation.
These water vapors are carried by the hot air. The hot air cools as it rises above which helps the water vapors to condense into clouds.
9. Rainforests Will Continue To Deplete Over Time
You may be surprised that rainforests are not permanent even without human activities. This is because they only exist in areas where there is high rainfall. The rainforest will slowly turn into grassland or savanna when the rainfall decreases.
10. Most Natural Foods Come From Rainforests
If you love natural foods, then you have rainforests to thank. Most natural foods originate from rainforests such as coffee, cocoa, bananas, and avocados. It is estimated that rainforests provide us with about 1,300 different kinds of fruits.
11. Rainforests Have 4 Layers
The rainforest has four layers:
- The forest floor
- The Understory
- The Canopy
- The Emergent Layer
The forest floor is the lowest layer, where the trees, shrubs, and herbs grow. The Understory is the second layer covering small trees and shrubs.
The Canopy is the third layer, where the large trees grow. The Emergent Layer is the fourth and final layer, where the tallest trees grow.
12. The Canopy Layer Slows The Flow Of Rain
The canopy layer in the rainforest helps in slowing the flow of rain. The leaves of the trees in this layer intercept the rainfall and prevent it from reaching the ground. As a result, the rainforests can receive a large amount of rainfall without being flooded. Plus, it also avoids sunrays and evaporation.
13. There Are Only 7 Temperate Rainforests In The World
The temperate rainforests are less compared to tropical rainforests in the world. They are located in North America, Europe, and Asia. The largest temperate rainforest in the World is the Tongass National Forest, which is located in the United States.
14. Rainforests’ Soil Is Not Good For Farming
The soil in rainforests is not suitable for farming because it is thin and lacks nutrients. Most of the nutrients are locked up in the trees and other vegetation in the rainforest. After their decay, they are quickly recycled and a few nutrients only reach the soil.
Additionally, when the trees are cut down, the soil is exposed to the Sun and quickly dries out. As a result, the rainforest soil remains almost sterile, that’s why it is not able to support farming activities.
15. Slash And Burn Method Is Used To Clear The Rainforest
The slash and burn method is often used to clear the rainforest. This method involves cutting down the trees and burning them. It is a quick and easy method, but also destructive.
The slash and burn method releases plenty of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. The clearcutting method is also used in which all the trees in an area are cut down through bulldozing. This is another of the saddest facts about rainforests.
16. Clearing Of Rainforests Cause Diseases
Another example of one of the most unfortunate facts about rainforests is that, according to scientists, the destruction of rainforests also causes new diseases. This is because the rainforest is home to many animals and plants. When the rainforest is destroyed, the animals and plants are forced to move into new urban areas with dense populations. As a result, they cause new pathogens and viruses. However, people didn’t encounter these diseases before, so their immune system is not used to them.
17. Most Of The Modern Medicines Are Gleaned From Rainforests
Undoubtedly, rainforests play an important role in the development of modern medicines. For this reason, many plants and animals in the rainforest have medicinal properties.
For instance, the bark of the cinchona tree is used to make quinine, which is used to treat malaria. Moreover, it is estimated that about 25% of modern medicines come from rainforests.
18. Some Rainforest Plants Leaves Are Used To Make Tea
The leaves of some plants in the rainforest are used to make tea. For instance, the yerba mate plant is found in the rainforests of South America. The leaves of this plant are used to make tea, which is popular in Brazil and Argentina.
19. Indigenous People Are Still Living In The Rainforests
There are still many indigenous people who are living in the rainforests. These people have a deep spiritual connection with the rainforest and rely on the forest for survival.
It is estimated that about 2.7 million people live in the Amazon rainforest. They are living in isolation from the outside world, and have their own unique cultures, tribes, and ethnic groups.
20. Biggest Nocturnal Primate Found Only In The Rainforest
The biggest nocturnal primate in the World is the aye-aye. This animal is only found in the rainforests of Madagascar. It has a long finger to tap on trees to find food. They are also known to eat the eyes of other animals.
21. The Okapi Only Found In The African Rainforest
The Okapi is a medium-sized mammal only found in the African rainforest. It has a long neck and striped legs. The Okapi is an endangered animal because its habitat is being disturbed, which makes them insecure.
22. The Largest Bird Of Prey Only Found In The Rainforest
The largest bird of prey in the World is the harpy eagle. This bird is found in the rainforests of South and Central America. It has a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) and can weigh up to 9 kg (20 pounds).
23. Rainforest Are A Habitat For Many Snakes In The World
Rainforests are home to a large number of snakes. According to an estimation, there are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the World. The rainforest is the best habitat for snakes since it is warm and humid. The World’s longest snake, the reticulated python, is found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. It can grow up to 10 meters (32 feet) in length.
24. The Largest Spider In The World Is Found In The Rainforest
The largest spider in the World is the goliath bird eater. This spider is found in the rainforests of South America. It can grow up to 30 cm (12 inches) in length and weigh up to 175 g (6 ounces).
25. The Afforestation, A New Solution Against Rainforests Destruction
Afforestation is a method of planting trees in areas that have no forests. This is a new possible solution introduced to help against rainforest destruction. The main goal of afforestation is to create new forests that can help to offset the loss of rainforests.
It is estimated that more than 1 billion hectares of land could be suitable for afforestation. This would help to overcome the loss of rainforests, and would also help to combat climate change. Japan and China are two countries that have already started to implement afforestation projects.
Facts about rainforests- further reading
So there we have it- 25 fascinating facts about rainforests. As you can see, rainforests are a vital part of our ecosystem and we must protect them. Do you have any other interesting facts about rainforests to share? If so, drop your facts about rainforests in the comments below!
Besides these 25 fascinating facts about rainforests, if you have any exciting experiences, please do share them with me in the comment section below.
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