There are three words that best describe our planet’s Tropical Rainforests: exotic, wild, and diverse. Despite only making up approximately 7% of the Earth’s dry land surface area, rainforests are essential to life on Earth. They provide us with the air we breathe, the water that we drink, as well as the food we eat. Not only that, Tropical Rainforests are also one of our best natural defences against climate change, but they are dying. Care to know more? Keep on reading to learn 20 facts about Tropical Rainforests.
Fact 1: Tropical Rainforests are basically hot, moist biomes, that are found near the Earth’s equator.
- There is no dry season in these environments and all months experience precipitation (something falling from the sky like rain).
- Tropical Rainforests may also be referred to as lowland equatorial evergreen rainforest.
Fact 2: True rainforests are typically found between 10 degrees north and south of the equator.
- They are a subset of the tropical forest biome that occurs in the equatorial zone between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
Fact 3: Tropical Rainforests can be described in two words: hot and wet.
- They have a mean monthly temperature of over 18°C throughout the year.
- Average annual rainfall is no less than 1,680mm and can exceed 10m.
Fact 4: Tropical Rainforests only cover around 2% of Earth’s total surface area, and 7% of the planet’s dry land area.
- 50% of all plants and animals on earth are found in rainforests. However, because of deforestation, there is less than half of the original 6 million square miles of Tropical Rainforests left in the world.
Fact 5: They regulate global temperatures, cool and regulate local micro-climates, and limit the Earth’s reflectivity.
- These in turn, stabilize ocean currents, as well as wind and rainfall patterns.
Fact 6: A single hectare of rainforest may contain 42,000 different species of insect, and 1,500 species of higher plants (complex plants).
- Tropical Rainforests have been nicknamed the “world’s largest pharmacy,” because over a quarter of natural medicines have been discovered within them.
Fact 7: Large-scale fragmentation, due to human activity, have pushed Tropical Rainforests into becoming one of the most threatened ecosystems globally.
- Fast human-driven habitat destruction is suspected to be one of the major causes of species extinction. Throughout the 20th century, Tropical Rainforests have been subjected to heavy logging and land conversion, chipping off a portion of the rapidly shrinking rainforests.
Fact 8: Things decompose about 10 times quicker in Tropical Rainforests than in other biomes.
- The floor has a thin layer of leaves, seeds or fruits, and branches that fall from the trees and it all decomposes fast, and new material takes their place.
Fact 9: Sadly, due to human-induced deforestation, the remaining Tropical Rainforests can no longer absorb enough carbon dioxide to balance out greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere.
- In a distressing development, a 2017 study published in the journal Science revealed, Tropical forests that once served as the Earth’s carbon sinks, now emit more carbon than they absorb, because of deforestation and forest loss caused by humans.
Fact 10: Tropical Rainforests help maintain earth’s limited water supply.
- The role of rainforests in the water cycle is to add water to the atmosphere through the process of ‘transpiration’ (plants release water from their leaves during photosynthesis). When forests are cut down, less moisture goes into the atmosphere and rainfall declines, sometimes leading to drought.
Fact 11: Each year, we lose a tropical forestland the size of Bangladesh.
- In 2017 alone, 5.8 million hectares of tropical forests was lost. In the Amazon around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching.
Fact 12: The Tropical Rainforests can be divided into 4 layers.
- The emergent layer, the canopy layer, the understory, and the forest floor. These layers host several species of tropical animals and tropical plants.
Fact 13: In the rainforest, most plant and animal life is not found on the forest floor, but it is instead found in the leafy world known as the canopy.
- The canopy, which may be over 100 feet above the ground, is made up of the overlapping branches and leaves of rainforest trees.
Fact 14: 25% of the world’s population rely on the rainforests for their livelihood.
- Nearly 1.6 billion people rely on forest resources for their livelihoods, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. A huge portion of them use trees on farms to generate food and income.
Fact 15: Orchids are a type of epiphyte plant that are regularly found in Tropical Rainforests, these orchids grow on the surface of some trees.
- There are over 20,000 known species of orchid t be had in the world… this doesn’t include any hybrids.
Fact 16: In January 18, 2007, it was confirmed that 67 tribes inhabit the Tropical Rainforests in Brazil.
- With this addition, Brazil has now overtaken the island of New Guinea as the country having the largest number of uncontacted tribes. These tribes are at risk of illegal loggers and cattle ranchers invading their land and bringing diseases.
Fact 17: You will find 750 types of tree species’ within the Tropical Rainforests.
- An example of medicinal plant species found in rainforests is the Wasai which is great for kidney health. The root of the Wasai tree is often ground up and prescribed as a diuretic.
Fact 18: Pygmies are tribes of people who only grow to a height of 150cm and below. Most of them live in tropical Africa, and south of the equator.
- Amongst this group are the Efe, Aka, Twa, Baka, and Mbuti people of Central Africa
Fact 19: The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest out of all the Tropical Rainforests on our planet.
- The Amazon rainforest, covering much of northwestern Brazil and extending into Colombia, Peru and other South American countries, is the world’s largest Tropical Rainforests, famed for its biodiversity.
Fact 20: At least 80% of the developed world’s diet is sourced from Tropical Rainforests.
- Fruits like avocado, coconuts, oranges, lemons, grapefruits, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and tomatoes can all be found in the world’s rainforests.
- Vegetables such as maize or sweetcorn, potatoes, and winter squash can all be found too.