Wednesday, October 14, 2009

World Rainforest Week

The rain beating down outside must be designed to make me remember that it is

Rainforest living up to its nameImage by pfly via Flickr

World Rainforest Week. I knew rainforests were important to Earth and that they're disappearing, but I didn't know many details so I did a little research on the Rainforest Action Network website. Here's are some fun facts - and some disturbing ones.

First, the fun facts. Tropical rainforests:
  • Cover 6% of the Earth's surface, but have 50% of our planets' plant and animal species.
  • Get 160 - 400 inches of rain a year!
  • Have 4 layers: emergent trees, canopy, understory, and the forest floor. The canopy can be so dense that it can take 10 minutes for a drop of rain to hit the forest floor.
  • Provide a home to all kinds of animals - jaguars, monkeys, snakes, poison arrow frogs, and millions of different species of insects
  • Produce oxygen, regulate our planet's climate, and clean the atmosphere.

Now, for the issue:

  • Rainforests contain many of our Earth's resources including timber, oil, and gold. To get these resources, they are being destroyed at a rate equivalent to the size of one football field each second. That's 2000 trees each minute.
  • They can never grow back once they are destroyed because they are complex ecosystems that take millions of years to evolve.
What can you do? Here are a few ideas:
  1. Educate yourself and your kids. I found some great resources at Caltech and The Rainforest Action Network that could either be used at home or in schools.
  2. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The paper we use, the coffee we drink, the plastics we consume all come from the trees and oil of the forests. Remember, we are the consumers that are driving the rainforest destruction.
  3. Read a book with your kids. Two to try: Rain, Rain, Rain Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson or Tigers at Twilight (Magic Treehouse #19) by Mary Pope Osborne.
  4. Don't buy pets that are imported from the rainforest. This may include parrots, iguanas, or other animals. Just be sure you know where they are coming from before you add a new pet to your family.


  1. Some of us have been fortunate enough to have been born in the tropics and had a full-growth jungle for their backyard as a kid. Great place to grow up. Also, fortunate enough to take boats on the Amazon River and its tributaries to see the wonder of the jungle first hand. In Manaus, Brazil, the Rio Negro flows in to the Amazon and that is where there is a wonderful swirly mixing of the dark black water from Rio Negro with the lighter waters of the Amazon. I have, however, seen from airplanes, very large plots of jungle destroyed by man for purposes of commercial use. So Let's Keep the Jungles! AMLD

  2. Some of us were even lucky enough to have pet iguanas that just appeared in the backyard so we could learn about how their tails grow back when they are "accidentally" pulled off!