Why are rainforests so wet?


Because it rains almost every single day! Late most afternoons, the sky goes black and there’s a heavy thunderstorm. Rainforests grow along the equator where it’s hot and sticky all year round. It’s the perfect weather for plants to grow.



Where do the biggest forests grow?



The biggest forests in the world stretch for thousands of kilometres across the north of Europe and Asia. The trees that grow here are conifers. They’re trees with needle-like leaves and cones.



Is it true? The paper we use comes from forests.



Yes. You could make more than 1,500 copies of this book from a single conifer tree.



Amazing! The biggest rainforest grows in South America along the banks of the River Amazon. It’s home to millions of plants and animals.



How do rainforests grow?



Rainforests grow in lagers depending on the height of the trees. The tallest trees poke out above the forest. Below them is a thick roof of tree-tops called the canopy. Next comes a layer of shorter trees, herbs and shrubs.




Picture Credit : Google



WHICH ANIMALS LIVE IN RAINFORESTS?


Tropical rainforests are home to an incredible range of animal life. Over half of the world’s known species exist in the Amazon rainforest alone. Colourful birds, such as toucans, parrots and macaws, live alongside gorillas or other primates, while tigers, pumas and wolves may roam among countless poisonous snakes and insects.



It is said that a single hectare (about two and half acres) of rainforest can contain up to 1500 species of plants plus 750 species of trees. It is this wealth of plant life that attracts and sustains an amazing collection of animals. For example, one in five of all bird species are found in the Amazon rainforest.



Mammals such as Orangutans (in Asia), Gorillas (Africa), Jaguars (South America) and sloths (Central and South America) all call the rainforest home. Sloths spend most of their time in the trees. Their hooked claws and long arms allow them to spend most of their time hanging upside down! Sloths are herbivores and due to their slow movement and metabolism it can take them up to a month to digest their food! Reptiles such as Anacondas, the Emerald Boa Constrictor and the Gaboon Viper slither through the trees and on the forest floor. Insects including cutter ants, tarantulas, scorpions, butterflies and beetles rummage on the forest floor. Amphibians such as frogs and toads live in trees or near bodies of water on the forest floor. Fish including the piranha, Amazonian catfish, fresh water dolphins and stingray inhabit the rivers that run through the rainforests.



Because there are so many animals in the rainforest there is a lot of competition for sunlight, food and space. Animals therefore have to adapt to the environment.



Some animals use camouflage to hide from predators and some predators use camouflage to help them hunt for food. Their colouring or patterned skin help them disappear into the rainforest, blending into the colour of the bark or leaves.



Some animals don’t hide, some use their colouring to warn potential predators away. The poison dart frog is a good example, they may be small but they are one of nature’s most toxic and dangerous creatures. Some local people put the frog’s poisonous toxins on the tips of their blowpipe darts to kill small prey which they then eat.



Picture Credit : Google



 

HOW CAN RAINFORESTS BE REGENERATED?


With careful planning, areas of rainforest can he re-established, although it takes over a hundred years for the forest to return to its original state. However, it the land is damaged, only scrubby vegetation will grow again.



We all know it takes a long time for cleared rainforests to regenerate, but how long exactly? According to a study focusing on the Brazilian Atlantic forest, certain aspects can return surprisingly quickly – within 65 years. But for the landscape to truly regain its native identity takes a lot longer – up to 4000 years.



The Atlantic forest originally stretched along the southern half of Brazil’s Atlantic coast, covering some 1.2 million square kilometres. Once lush, the forest has been continually exploited for food, wood and space.



Today, land it used to occupy is home to most of the country’s population, including Brazil’s two largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and only 100,000 square kilometres of forest remain. In 1993, however, the government created several protected areas to conserve the forest’s remnants. To determine how long it would take for the forest to regenerate, Marcia Marques and colleagues at the Federal University of Parana collected data on different parcels of forest that had been virtually cleared and left to recover for varying amounts of time.



The researchers looked at four different measures of forest regrowth: the proportion of tree species whose seeds are dispersed by animals, the proportion of species that can grow in shade, tree height, and the number of native species.



“Animal-dispersed trees sustain a large number of fruit-eating animals, that sustain other animals including large carnivores,” says Marques. “Thus, from the proportion of animal-dispersed trees we can estimate how complex the forest’s ecological web has become.”



Animals are key to the successful regeneration of cleared areas and, typically, 80% of the tree species in a mature tropical rainforest are animal-dispersed. The researchers found that it took just 65 years for a forest to recover to this level.



Picture Credit : Google



 

Inside a rainforest



 



 



 



The heat and heavy rain in a rainforest are perfect for living things. Trees grow tall and flowers blossom. The lush rainforest provides food and shelter for the millions of creatures that it is home to.



 



 



 



 





 



 



 



 



Rainforests recycle their own water



Every day, the sun heats the rainforest, causing water from trees and plants to evaporate (turn into its gas form – water vapour). As the water vapour rises, it cools and condenses back into liquid water and forms rain clouds. When it rains, the plants soak up rain and the water cycle begins again.



 



 



 



 



 


Continue reading "Inside a rainforest"

What are rainforests?



 



 



Rainforests are dense, warm, wet forests, with huge trees. They are very special places. Over half the known animals and plants in the world live in rainforests, and new ones are being discovered all the time.



 



 



 





 



 



 



This is a tropical rainforest. It rains here almost every day.



More than two metres of rain falls in a tropical rainforest every year. It is a hot, wet and steamy place with little variation in weather and no seasons. As a result, the trees and plants stay green and keep growing all year round.



 



 



 





 



 



The white areas were once rainforests.



An area of rainforest the size of a football pitch is destroyed every second! They are cut down for their wood, or to make way for farms, mines or roads. These unique and important environments – which affect the world’s weather and provide us with medicine, food and oxygen – could be lost forever.



The green areas on this map show where tropical rainforests grow today.



Most of the world’s rainforests are tropical. They grow in ‘the tropics’, a hot area just north and south of the equator. The equator is the imaginary line we draw around the middle of the earth. Some rainforests grow further north and south of the equator where it is cooler. These are temperate rainforests.