Rain Forest Threats, Rain Forest Species More than half of Earth’s rain forests have already been lost forever to the insatiable human demand for wood and arable land. Rain forests that once grew over 14 percent of the land on Earth now cover only about 6 percent. And if current deforestation rates continue, these critical habitats could disappear from the planet completely within the next hundred years. The reasons for plundering rain forests are mainly economic. Wealthy nations drive demand for tropical timber, and cash-strapped governments often grant logging concessions at a fraction of the land’s true value. Threats Solutions Bagheera Rain Forest In Brazil, which houses 30 percent of the remaining tropical rain forest on Earth, more than 50,000 square miles of rain forest were lost to deforestation between 2000 and 2005. Biologists worry about the long-term consequences. Drought may be one. Some rain forests, including the Amazon, began experiencing drought in the 1990s, possibly due to deforestation and global warming. Efforts to discourage deforestation, mainly through sustainable-logging initiatives, are underway on a very limited basis but have had a negligible impact so far. The rain forest is nearly self-watering. Plants in the rain forest grow very close together and contend with the constant threat of insect predators. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that 70 percent of the anti-cancer plants identified so far are rain forest plants. Many trees and plants, like orchids, have been removed from the rain forest and cultivated.
News: Rain Forest For centuries, humans have relied on rain forests for a variety of products. Foods such as tomatoes, peppers, corn, rice, coconuts, bananas, coffee, cocoa, tapioca, beans, and sweet potatoes all originally came from the rain forest. Many civilizations have exploited the timber in rain forests and cleared the land for farms. Some preliterate tribes have actually lived in the rain forests for thousands of years. Today people rely on tropical rain forests for a variety of everyday products: paper (7 percent of all paper pulp comes from the rain forest); rubber (used in tires and other products); wax (used in plastics); mahogany and teak (used in wood products such as furniture); and many other items. Destructive Activities Unfortunately, human activities have taken a toll on the rain forest. Farming. Cattle ranching also poses a danger to rain forests. Logging. Other activities. Destruction Aftermath Soil and erosion. Flora and fauna. Climate. Copyright © 2002 Grolier Incorporated.
WWF: Wildlife Trade What is wildlife trade? Whenever people sell or exchange wild animal and plant resources, this is wildlife trade. It can involve live animals and plants or all kinds of wild animal and plant products. Wildlife trade is easiest to track when it is from one country to another because it must be checked, and often recorded, at Customs checkpoints. Why do people trade wildlife? People trade wildlife for cash or exchange it for other useful objects - for example, utensils in exchange for wild animal skins. For a more detailed list of the various uses of wildlife, visit the TRAFFIC website. What is wildlife trade worth financially? This is a difficult estimate to make. What is the scale of wildlife trade? The trade involves hundreds of millions of wild plants and animals from tens of thousands of species. Why is wildlife trade a problem? Wildlife trade is by no means always a problem and most wildlife trade is legal. Recent overexploitation of wildlife for trade has affected countless species.
Rainforest Biomes The tropical rain forest is a forest of tall trees in a region of year-round warmth. An average of 50 to 260 inches (125 to 660 cm.) of rain falls yearly. Rain forests belong to the tropical wet climate group. The temperature in a rain forest rarely gets higher than 93 °F (34 °C) or drops below 68 °F (20 °C); average humidity is between 77 and 88%; rainfall is often more than 100 inches a year. There is usually a brief season of less rain. Rainforests now cover less than 6% of Earth's land surface. A tropical rain forest has more kinds of trees than any other area in the world. About 1/4 of all the medicines we use come from rainforest plants. All tropical rain forests resemble one another in some ways. Despite these differences, each of the three largest rainforests--the American, the African, and the Asian--has a different group of animal and plant species. Layers of the Rainforest There are four very distinct layers of trees in a tropical rain forest. Plant Life Animal Life
Time: The New Age of Extinction There are at least 8 million unique species of life on the planet, if not far more, and you could be forgiven for believing that all of them can be found in Andasibe. Walking through this rain forest in Madagascar is like stepping into the library of life. Sunlight seeps through the silky fringes of the Ravenea louvelii, an endangered palm found, like so much else on this African island, nowhere else. Leaf-tailed geckos cling to the trees, cloaked in green. A fat Parson's chameleon lies lazily on a branch, beady eyes scanning for dinner. But the animal I most hoped to find, I don't see at first; I hear it, though — a sustained groan that electrifies the forest quiet. Madagascar — which separated from India 80 million to 100 million years ago before eventually settling off the southeastern coast of Africa — is in many ways an Earth apart. That loss seems likelier than ever because the animals are under threat as never before. See pictures of species on the brink of extinction.
Rainforest Coloring Pages and Activities for Kids Color in your favorite rainforest birds, mammals, reptiles and plants in our coloring book, or teach yourself about the rainforest with our fun experiments, crafts, and quizzes. Coloring Pages: Amphibians Birds Insects Mammals Plants Reptiles Hands-On Projects from The Remarkable Rainforest Teach yourself about the rainforest with experiments, crafts, and quizzes. These activities are reprinted from The Remarkable Rainforest by Toni Albert, © 1994 by Toni Albert. If you order this book directly from the publishers at 800-353-2791, mention the Rainforest Alliance.