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The Rainforests – a Disappearing Treasure

Updated on March 21, 2012

Why the Rainforest is Disappearing

The rain forest is disappearing at an alarming rate, as at once covered 14% of the earth's surface and now covers a mere 6%. At this rate the rainforest will be totally consumed in less than 40 years. At the present time 1 1/2 acres of rain forest are lost every second, which has tragic consequences for world. Shortsighted governments, national logging companies and landowners are willing to destroy the rainforest for the value of its timber and grazing land. This also impacts half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms. Chainsaws, bulldozers and suppliers are used to clear the rainforest for its timber value and the land is used for farming and ranching operations. Some of the big companies that are involved in these activities are Mitsubishi Corporation, Georgia Pacific, Texaco and Unocal.

Rainforest Around the World

source slcaltechedu
source slcaltechedu

View of Top of Trees While Riding Tram

My Photo
My Photo

Rainforest Characteristics and History

There are less than 200,000 Indians living in the Amazon rainforests today, whereas five centuries ago there were 10 million. European colonists have destroyed more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900s. Shamans and medicine men living in the rainforest today are typically 70 years or older and when one of them dies without passing his arts onto the next generation the tribe and the world loses thousands of years of non-replaceable knowledge about medicinal plants.

Rainforests are called tropical because most of them are located near the equator, which means they are always warm, with the average temperature from 70° to 90°, and it is always humid. Rainforests can be found in the continents of Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia, with the largest being the Amazon Rain Forest, located in South America, primarily in Brazil. It has the world's largest river, the Amazon, running through it.

Rainforest Emergent Top Level - Costa Rico

My Photo
My Photo

Emergent Level

My Photo
My Photo

Canopy Level - Rainforest Costa Rico

My Photo
My Photo

Understory of Rainforest

My Photo
My Photo

Rainforest Forest Floor

My Photo
My Photo

Rainforest Biomes

Rainforest biomes are comprised of four different layers each having different types of trees, flowers and other plants.

Emergent Layer - the top layer:

This layer has huge trees that grow up to 150" to 200' and, of course, receive the most sunlight. Monkeys, bats, eagles and butterflies are found at this level.

Canopy - third layer:

This layer also has very tall trees (some to 120’), which grow very close together, almost touching, which forms a type of lush green garden in the air. This is where you will find numerous plants, animals and insects, along with many beautiful birds, butterflies, hummingbirds and flowering plants. The animals include monkeys, bats, reptiles, and other animals that have the ability to swoop in and climb to this canopy.

Understory - middle layer:

This layer includes smaller trees, bushes and plants, such as ferns which do not grow over 12' tall. Very little sunlight filters down to this layer. There is an large array of birds and animals, plus multiple insects that live in this layer. Forest wildcats, such as the leopard, are excellent tree climbers and chase monkeys and squirrels for food.

Forest Floor - bottom layer:

Plants are scarce on the forest floor due to little sunlight reaching this area. The animals and insects that live on the forest floor receive food and shelter from leaves and plants, which are dropped from the upper layers. The animals include mice, frogs, snakes, insects and even larger animals such as, wild boar and deer make their home on the forest floor.

Rainforest Conncting Vines Canopy Level

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My Photo

Rainforest Flower

source mycheapflower
source mycheapflower

Bromeliad

source chalkRichmondeducation
source chalkRichmondeducation

Rainforest Orchid

source pwmbiomes
source pwmbiomes

Facts about the Rainforest Plants

The canopy trees have huge, thick, waxy leaves that have “drip tips” to allow water to drain off for the plants and animals below.

Thousands of flowers, called air plants, grow on these trees and since their roots are not in soil they take their food from the air and water around them. Of course, these include orchids. Hummingbirds and butterflies drink nectar from the flowers, plus insects and even some small animals live on these air plants.

Bromeliads are commonly seen and they collect water in the center of their flower, which forms a small pool for frogs, lizards and insects to live.

There are numerous types of vines and ferns, which connect the layers of the rainforest and you will see mushrooms and herbs growing on the forest floor.

Rainforest people have collected fruits and nuts for food and plants for medicine for thousands of years without hurting the rain forest in any way.

The following plants first came from the rainforest: avocado, banana, coffee, lemon, orange, peanut, pepper and pineapple. There are at least 3000 fruits found in the rainforest but only about 200 of them are used in the Western world, while the Indians use over 2000.

The rainforests have 170,000 of the world's 250,000 known plant species. Due to their climate they have more species of frogs and butterflies. For example, Europe has 321 butterfly species, while the rain forests of Peru has 1300 species.

It is commonly estimated that approximately 1/2 of the world animals live in the rain forest and approximately 25% of the world's medicine is derived from rainforest plants. Unfortunately, scientists have not been able to explore much of the rainforest for gathering plants for further study.

Connecting Vines from Forest Floor

y Photo
y Photo

Toucan Lives in Emergent Layer

source highwildernessclassroom
source highwildernessclassroom

Jaquar

source buyhost
source buyhost

Redeye Tree Frog

source rainforestanimals
source rainforestanimals

Rainforest Animals

The rainforests are full of very unique birds such as Macaws, Toucans, Quetzals, Parrots, Harpy Eagles and many others.

Amphibians include the Poison Dark Frog and the Red-eyed Tree Frog.

There are a large variety of mammals including the Bengal Tiger, Guerrillas, Jaguars, Lar Gibbon, Lemur, Orangutan, plus many other types of monkeys.

Reptiles include the frightening Anaconda, the Black Caiman, the Boa Constrictor, the Gaboon Viper and the Reticulated Python.

In the water you will also find Manatee and Piranhas.

Endangered Gibbon

 source allaboutwildlife
source allaboutwildlife

Boa Constrictor

source wallpapereu
source wallpapereu

White Face Monkey

My Photo
My Photo

Tour of Costa Rico Rainforest

My husband and I had the pleasure of touring the rainforest and Costa Rica. We rode in a tram hanging from cables at various levels throughout the rainforest. It was a fascinating, learning experience. The way the four layers are connected for the survival of all is like seeing a finely tuned orchestra. The birds also thrilled us, and we saw a white face monkey, which are very rare. They are small but look at the picture on your right.

The Amazon Rainforest

In Summary

It is heartbreaking that so much of the rainforests are being lost throughout the world. The Amazon rain forest has often been referred to as" Lungs of our Planet".The rainforests provide a continuous recycling of carbon dioxide into oxygen and more than 20% of the world's oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. The U.S. National Cancer Institute, which actively fights against cancer cells with 70% of the medicines found in the rain forest plants.

Experts certainly agree that leaving the rainforest intact while harvesting the nuts, fruits, oil-producing plants and medicinal plants has much more economic value than cutting down the rain forest to make room for cattle to graze. The problem is no one has control over what any individual country or landowner chooses to do with their rainforest. Hopefully people will wake up before this treasure is completely destroyed.

The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile image
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    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    Melis Ann, Thank you for the link and I fully agree with your views. I appreciate your comments.

  • Melis Ann profile image

    Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

    Wow - I love all the visuals you have included in your hub. Our rainforests are so important and we need to find as many ways to support the rainforests as we can. Without them our planet is in trouble! I've included a link to your hub on one of my hubs so my readers can see your great presentation. Thanks for writing this.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Support Med, I find this sad also. Thank yhou so much for yhour comments.

    Conrad, That is wonderful and I hope in your country that they are wise enough to keep the forest. I appreciate your comments.

  • conradofontanilla profile image

    conradofontanilla 6 years ago from Philippines

    We still have some virgin forest in my country; second growth forests have become predominant. We have over a thousand species of medicinal plants. That orchid with lavender flowers is waling-waling that abounds in our forest. I have been involved in forest research having been editor of a technical journal "Sylvatrop" and a newsletter "Canopy."

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

    This is sad, from 14% to 6%, devestating. Where will these animals go I wonder. Will they find their way to other places for those who do not die on their journey. I wonder if they'll make it to the waters of our neighboring states, if that's even possible. Lots of questions. Shame that money/profit (at least that's what they think) comes before these wonderful animals and plants (especially the medicinal benefits for cancer, etc.) Wonder how this will affect oxygen levels all around the world? Thanks for this update. v/r

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Hanna, I feel the same way. Thanks for your comments.

  • HealthyHanna profile image

    HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

    The Rain Forests are one of my favorite topics. They fascinate me. I worry about what the effects will when they are gone.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Lady_E, I agree that it is sad and I appreciate your comments.

    Nell Rose, I couldn't agree with you more and I certainly appreciate your comments.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

    Hi, amazing hub, and great information, as you explained the Rain Forest is the lungs of the world, I can't understand why scientists blame the world for polution and global warming, when they allow this forest to be hacked to pieces, we need that oxygen that the forest makes, and it makes me so angry to think that we haven't got the chance to explore and document all the health giving plants and shrubs, there is so much there to teach us, I hope that one day they will realise the importance and stop the cutting down of this great place, cheers nell

  • Lady_E profile image

    Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

    Excellent Hub - it's sad though that "the world" is slowly disappearing. I enjoyed reading this.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Bobbi, Well put. I agree and appreciate your comments.

  • BobbiRant profile image

    BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

    Humans and their greed exceed the planet's ability to produce enough. "There's enough on the planet for man's need, but Not his greed." Great hub.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    RedElf, Thank you so much for your comment.

  • RedElf profile image

    RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

    Glad to see you entered this one in the contest - it's a winner as far as I'm concerned :D Beautifully done, Pam.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Movie Master, They are frightening. I appreciate your comments.

    Cardelean, It is good to know children are being taught. There are some organizations that are fighting to save the rain forest but from I learned in my research the effort has not been very successful. Thanks for your comments.

    Patriot, This is one thing I thing is most worth fighting for as once gone it can't be replaced. Thanks for the comments.

    Prasetio, I think it does take action but at least getting the knowledge out is power. There are a lot of rainforests in Indonesia, and I am sorry to tell you they are also cutting it down regularly, just like the rest of the world. It is sad that people don't see how damaging this is to our environment. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

    Wow..wow..wow..I love this hub so much. Very well research. You have done a great job here by presenting complete information about the rainforest. I know it will disappear soon by the human error. We have to protect this to make this earth always green. This is our responsibility. I know that rainforest if a good place for animal and rare plant. I know this form the pictures above. Beautiful, Pam. I don't know what will happened with them if the palce where they live has broken.

    Very inspiring hub and you encourage us to action not just read. VOTE IT UP!

    Prasetio

  • profile image

    partisan patriot 6 years ago

    pamela

    Great informative hub coupled with amazing pictures; you almost succeeded in making an environmentalists out of me; at least when it comes to rain forrest preservation!

  • cardelean profile image

    cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

    What a wonderfully put together hub. I am saddened that this is happening in the world and awareness is one of the ways to help slow it down and stop it. We read some wonderful stories this year in my class about the plants, animals, and all of the wonderful things that the rainforest provides. We also discussed the destruction of the forests and what that means to the world. I think my students came away with a lot of knowledge that hopefully they will carry with them and share with others. Beautiful pics too.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi Pamela, those statistics are frightening - just 6%, the endangered animal and species, it's all so tragic, thank you for a very informative and interesting hub.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    drbj, I have had the same experience about endangered animals. I never realized there were so many and I agree with you that pure greed is causing the loss of their homes. I appreciate your comments.

    Audrey, I agree that awareness is power and I certainly hope it's not too late. To lose so many creatures and so many unique plants that are medicinal is truly a shame. Thanks so much for your comment.

    Peggy, Often that is the case then so much as been lost and absolutely nothing gained. That is the million-dollar question. I wish I knew when people would wake up to this fact. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Very informative hub. Nice that you got to travel to Costa Rica and see that rain forest in person. I have also read that often when the trees are cut down to make way for farming or grazing, the soil is so deficient of nutrients that it is soon abandoned leaving a vast wasteland which benefits no one. So sad! When will people wake up to the fact that this is a valuable resource to all of us sharing this small planet?

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

    Definitely one of those things that is wrong with the world. Extinction and loss of habitat for all the beautiful, unique creatures put on this earth that we should be taking such good care of - and we are killing it all. It makes me weep sometimes as I think of more and more disappearing. Awareness is power - I only pray that it is not too late. Great topic, Pamela!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

    You most definitely added to my knowledge of the rainforests, Pamela, with this well-researched and well-written hub. Almost every time I write about a particular weird animal, I learn that it is becoming endangered because its habitat is disappearing.

    Pure greed is eliminating the rainforests, little by little, and the animals who make it their home.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    always exploring, I'm glad you enjoyed the article and I wish I had an answer to your question. Thank you for your comment.

    northweststarr, It is terrifying of what we are doing to out world. Thanks for your comments.

  • northweststarr profile image

    northweststarr 6 years ago from Washington State

    Voted up and beautiful! Learned a few things about rainforests I didn't yet know! TY for the information! (Terrifying, how fast we're rendering our world inhabitable, isn't it?)

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

    The rainforest flowers are so beautiful. Very sad that this natural beauty is disappearing. When will man learn to protect instead of destroy. Thank you for sharing an excellent article.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    ejazahmed, Thank you for your comments and I think our views are quite similar.

  • ejazahmed2609 profile image

    ejazahmed2609 6 years ago from Abu Dahbi, UAE

    Hi Pamela,No doubt Rainforest are providing oxygen to the whole community and its elimination is the great loss of humanity as well as for animals. please visit my link on hub pages: http://hubpages.com/hub/A-great-Environmental-Deal...

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Roberta, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • Roberta99 profile image

    Roberta99 6 years ago

    This is such an interesting hub and I never knew there were 4 distinct levels of the forest. Your pictures are beautiful. It is sad that so much of the forest is disappearing.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    SubRon, Certainly it makes no sense to be cutting down all these trees because of the things you and Cardisa mentioned plus the treasure of the rainforests are being lost. Thanks for your comments.

  • SubRon7 profile image

    James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

    Great hub, Pamela. I read somewhere that tree-removal in the Himalayas contributes greatly to faraway flooding in Bangladesh, mankind's canary for climate change. And I agree with Cardisa about tree-removal contributing greatly to landslides, everywhere. Someday we are going to be sorry, and I think that day is coming more quickly than most of us realize. I know that the climate has changed where I live, and I suspect it is not "just" in a wet/dry cycle.

  • Pamela99 profile image
    Author

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Cardisa. Unfortunately that is happening all over the world. Thanks for your comments.

  • Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

    Hi Pamela, a well researched and well presented hub. Our rainforests are disappearing because we are cutting down our trees, at least here in Jamaica that is our main problem with landslides.