|Tropical rain forests are found in
the Amazon region of South
America, Central America, Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.
They are very old, thick forests where it rains more than 1.8
meters per year. The oldest rainforest in the world is in Sarawak.
It is 10 million years old. In rain forests, huge trees 45 meters high
have their first branches about 10 meters above the ground.
Below the trees, there is another level of plantsmany kinds of
smaller trees, bushes, and flowers. The Sarawak forest has 2500
different kinds of trees. Each level of the rain forest is its own world. The lower level is
protected by the trees above. The temperature and humidity (the
amount of water or moisture in the air) stay about the same in the
lower level. There is not much sunlight. In the upper level, the
sun, rain, and wind change the temperature and humidity often.
An amazing animal world lives in the upper level. There are
monkeys, members of the cat family, birds, and insects such as
bees, butterflies, and many kinds of flies. Other animals that
usually live on the ground also live here mice, ants, and even
This upper level of the forest is thick with
plant life because the
the ground through the upper level take their nutrients from the
trees they live on and from the other plants that they die there.
The animals need streets
so they can move along the upper
the branches of the trees. A researcher found a path that
stretched for 18 meters in one tree. One kind of tiny ant makes a
path only 3 millimeters wide.
Now humans are destroying the
earths tropical rain forests.
trees for fuel. Another quarter is destroyed when people cut
down trees to make grassland for their cattle.
People cut down the rest of the trees sothey can sell the wood
or start farms. Cities all over world are growing and want huge
For example, the Japanese used
5000 trees from Sarawak rain
it seems a good idea to clear the rain forests and use land for
agriculture. Land that can support huge, thick forests must be
But it isnt. This is another surprising about rain forests.
Most of the land in tropical rain forests is poor.The plants are
able to live because of e dead leaves and other plant parts that
fall ground. This carpet of dead plants pro-nutrients for the
|When the land is cleared for agriculture, there
are no longer any
plants left to die and provide nutrients for living plants. The cycle
is broken. Agriculture is unsuccessful because the land cannot
support it. Trees cannot grow again because the carpet of dead
plants is gone. The land becomes empty and useless.
Is this important?
What does it matter to a Japanese business person, a French
farmer, or an Arab student that people are destroying rain forests
thousands of kilometers away?
Do you ever take medicine?
Do you wear run- fling shoes?
Do you use envelopes when you mail letters?
Rain forests make these things possible.
Rain forests cover less than 6 percent of the earths area, but they
have 100,000 kinds of plants, probably half of all the kinds of
plants on the earth. Three-fourths of all known kinds of plants
and animals call the rain forest their home. Twenty percent of our
different kinds of medicine comes from rain forests. The glue on
an envelope and in shoes comes from tropical plants.
Rain forests provide materials for hundreds of other products.
Rain forests are also very important to the
percentage of the worlds oxygen (0). Some scientists believe
that the decreasing size of rain forests will affect the climate on
the earth, making it uncomfortable or even dangerous for life.
Saving ourrain forests is an international problem. One country or
even a few countries, cannot solve the problem alone.
The nations of the world must work together to find a solution
before it is too late.
previous main page