The Rainforests: III. Important Facts and Information about the Rainforests

Review of Literature


III. Important Facts and Information about the Rainforests

According to the National Forest Association of Forest Industries (1996), "there are about 4 billion hectares of forest in the world, of which about 25 percent is tropical rainforest."

The rainforest is full of diversity when it comes to the plants and animals that inhabit it.  Many of them are found no where else on Earth.  These species have extremely valuable medical properties and the only known cure for certain diseases come from species of the rainforest.

As an example of the rainforest's diversity, "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 forest of North America." (Allo, 1996)

The diversity of rainforest species applies to much more than just trees.  "Although insects represent only 62 percent of the 1.4 million named organisms on the planet, scientists estimate that the total number of arthropods to number between 8 million and 80 million." (Allo, 1996)

Only 20 percent of the nutrients of the rainforest are in the soil; 80 percent of the nutrients remain in the trees and plants.  The rainwater of the forest is recycled by evaporation.  Clouds above the forests canopy help reflect sunlight which keeps temperatures within the forest to remain more stable.

Although rainforests take vast amounts of time to regenerate, young forests are more effective at removing carbon from the air than older forests.  Older forests absorb carbon less effectively, but have more total carbon stored within them.

The soil of the rainforests is only suitable for being rainforest soil, crops do not grow well in it.  When forests are cut down, the soil erodes quickly and soon only a dry desert remains.

Humans also inhabit the rainforests.  Most of the people are indigenous, or Indian.  It is estimated that there are over 1,000 or more indigenous groups around the world, by they are also becoming extinct.  "In 1900, Brazil had one million Indians.  Today, there are fewer than 200,000 in the Amazon." (Stevenson Press, 1996)

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