The rainforests of our world are truly astonishing. The trees can grow to dizzying heights, and are they only found where it’s hot and humid. As the name suggests, they also exist in places that have a lot of rainfall. A tropical rainforest will usually receive at least 2 METRES of rainfall in a year!
They are full of incredible animals, insects and plants, so we have to be very careful to preserve the rainforests as much as we can. Over a quarter of all natural medicines that we use have been discovered in rainforests, and they are also responsible for processing carbon dioxide into oxygen, keeping our atmosphere healthy.
Here are 12 facts about the rainforests for kids.
1. Tropical rainforests exist all over the world.
They can be found in Asia, Africa, South America, Central America and even Australia! The only continent they are not found in is Antarctica (its WAY too cold).
2. Rainforests have multiple layers.
Plants and animals have adapted to live in different layers of a rainforest. There is the emergent layer, which includes only the very tallest trees growing above the canopy layer. Then there is the canopy layer, which includes most of the other trees, and if you look at the rainforest from above, it looks like a single unbroken sea of trees.
About 50% of all of the plant species in the rainforest can be found in the canopy. Next there’s the understory layer, between the canopy and the forest floor – lots of birds, snakes and lizards live here.
Finally we get to the forest floor. Very little light actually makes it to the forest floor, and only plants that have adapted to very low light levels can survive.
3. Less than 1% of the plants in the rainforests have actually been examined to see if they have any uses in medicine.
Considering how much of our medicines are has been discovered in the rainforests, they certainly seem to have a lot more to offer.
4. From when we began to monitor and watch over the rainforests, we only have around 50% of what we started with.
Unfortunately, rainforests are being destroyed at a worrying rate. In fact it is estimated that we lose around 80,000 ACRES of rainforest a day! On top of that we badly damage another 80,000 acres per day. At current rates we could lose ALL of our rainforests within 50 years.
5. There are tribes of people living in the rainforests that have never had contact with the world outside of their villages.
They live in complete isolation from the rest of the world, and it is illegal to try and engage with them.
6. A lot of the animals that call the rainforest home have adapted to live there.
They have adapted over many years to the environment, and now depend on it for survival. Destroying the rainforest will have a profound effect on lots of wildlife.
7. The canopy in a rainforest is so dense that it can up to 10 minutes for the water to hit the ground!
The canopy essentially acts as one big umbrella.
8. It is estimated that around half of ALL of the animal species on earth are found in the rainforests.
There are still many species we have yet to discover, which is exciting for explorers and scientists alike.
9. The rainforests act as natural water filters, keeping pollution out of the water supply.
A fifth of all of the fresh water in the world can be found in the Amazon Basin.
10. The most expensive coffee in the world is made by the elephants in the rainforests of Thailand.
They are fed the coffee beans and they are collected from the dung later after passing through the elephants digestive system.
11. Rainforests are the oldest living ecosystem on the planet.
They are estimated to be tens of millions of years old!
12. Around 70% of plant species useful in cancer treatment are found only in the rainforests.
That’s why it’s so important to continue searching the rainforest for new potential medical uses.
What are the types of rainforest?
There are two types of rainforest: temperate and tropical. Tropical rainforests are found close to the equator where it is much warmer, whereas temperate rainforests are found along coasts, where it is much cooler. Tropical rainforests are known for being hot, humid and moist with lots of rainfall. Temperate rainforests still receive lots of rainfall, but are generally much cooler.
How old is the rainforest?
Rainforests are millions of years old. The oldest known rainforest, the Daintree Rainforest, is believed to be around 180 million years old. This is much older than the Amazon rainforest.
Why are rainforests called rainforests?
The clue is in the name: a rainforest receives a substantial amount of rainfall every year. If they receive an annual rainfall of at least 100 inches (254 centimetres), they are generally considered to be a rainforest.
What is the biggest rainforest?
The Amazon rainforest is the biggest rainforest in the world. It spans 9 countries and covers almost 40% of South America. Over million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles) is forested.
How many layers are there in a rainforest?
There are four key layers to a rainforest. The emergent layer, canopy, understory and the forest floor. Each layer experiences different levels of light, water and air, and plants and animals have adapted to survive in each specific layer.