What Is A Tropical Rainforest?
Rainforest is a forest located in a narrow region near the equator in West and Central Africa, South and Central America and Asia. Technically defined, a tropical rainforest is a forest which receives 4 to 8 meters of rain per year. Beyond that, a tropical rainforest is nature’s sanctuary for untold numbers of plants, animals and insects.
The Importance of the Rainforests:
Rainforests control climate by influencing wind, rainfall, humidity, and temperature. They recycle water, oxygen and carbon which reduces soil erosion, flooding and air pollutions. At stake is the health of our planet. “Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.’ This ancient proverb says it well, saving our environment is the most compelling reason for preserving the rainforest. By combating environmental problems we can preserve the earth for the generations to come.
The rainforest are important to us for many reasons including but not limited to the following;
- While rainforests make up only 2% of the earth’s surface, they support over half the world’s wild plant, animal and insect life. In a typical four square mile patch of rainforest you find over 750 species of trees, over 1500 different kinds of flowering plants, 125 different mammals, 400 kinds of birds, 100 reptiles, 60 amphibians and countless insects.
- The National Cancer Institute has identified that 70% of the plants useful in cancer treatment can only be found in rainforests
- Tropical rainforests produce oxygen and consume carbon dioxide. Deforestation contributes between 10% and 30% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, thus contributing to global warming. Burning of tropical forests is responsible for one-tenth or more of this greenhouse effect.
- Rainforests are a critical link in the ecological chain of life. Our earth once had an estimated 6 million square miles of tropical rainforest. By 1999, less than 3.5 million square miles remained. We have already destroyed more than half of all the world’s rainforests.
- Here in Ghana, the country’s forest cover stood at 8.2 million hectares at the turn of the 20th Century but has reduced to about 1.6 million hectares according to records at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources
- Deforestation and land degradation open the country up for climate change impacts that include sea level rise, drought, the drying up of water bodies, erratic rainfall pattern and reduced crop yield.