Saving the Rainforests
Rainforests are the world’s richest biomes. These forests grow mainly near the Equator. Rich in wildlife; they are under threat from humans. Rainforests contain more species of plants and animals than any other habitat on Earth. The largest rainforests are the tropical forests of South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. As the tropical climate is always warm and wet, with no winter, plants can grow all year round. This results in a thick growth of trees, ferns, vines and other plants. These in turn support an extraordinarily rich variety of animals, particularly insects and birds.
Plants grow rapidly in a rainforest and to reach the sunlight, trees grow very tall. The rainforest has three distinct layers; the forest floor, the understorey and the canopy. The understorey consists of tree trunks covered with climbing plants. The forest is surprisingly free of clutter. Leaves, animals dropping and bodies of dead forest animals decompose quickly when they fell onto the ground.
Although they cover only six per cent of the earth’s surface, tropical rainforests contain about three-quarters of all known species of animals and plants. There are plants flowering or producing fruits everywhere, and at any time of the year. These provide a constant food supply for birds, bats, insects, snakes, tree frogs, antelopes, monkeys and other animals.
The trees of the rainforest are prized as timber and large areas have been destroyed by logging. Vast areas of forest have also been cleared to make way for plantations of rubber, coffee, banana and sugar cane, or to provide pasture for cattle. Often this is done by cutting trees and burning scrub. Highways have been cut through the forest, mines dug and new settlements built.
As rainforests are cleared, the soil becomes exposed and is quickly washed away by heavy rains. Once rich forest becomes lifeless wasteland. Some of the forest land is quickly replanted with crops. But the soil usually supports...