Rainforests are Earth’s oldest living ecosystems and play an essential role to life and much of the biodiversity found on Earth. They are important for providing air, water, medicine, food, and shelter to a vast array of living organisms, but they are also one of the best natural defenses we have against climate change. Why? Because rainforests have the capacity to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Even though rainforests only cover around 6% of the Earth’s surface, they are ecological powerhouses that are critical to nearly every aspect of our planet’s health, including our ability to breathe!
Rainforests are the lungs of the planet.
Our oceans actually produce more oxygen than the forests, but our planet's rainforests are still considered the lungs of the planet.
You can find rainforests on every continent other than Antarctica.
How do rainforests help our planet?
- Regulate humidity
- Regulate temperature
Limit planet reflectivity
- This stabilizes ocean currents, wind, and rainfall patterns
A home for many!
The rainforests house over 30 million different living species. They are incredibly diverse and complex ecosystems that are home to more than half of the world’s plant and animal species.
The orangutans that live in the rainforest are a HUGE asset to our planet. Why? Because they help distribute tree seeds that are vital to keeping our rainforests trees growing and spreading. As they travel from tree to tree, they carry the seeds with them! Sometimes this happens because the seeds get caught in their fur and they don’t do it on purpose, but they are one of the many animals that are responsible for the health of our rainforests.
Our rainforests are in trouble though and we need to be aware of what’s happening.
Deforestation - the permanent removal of trees to make room for something besides the forest. This is a HUGE problem
Millions of acres of rainforest are taken out yearly for reasons that may not even occur to you. Deforestation is happening to clear space for the meat industry & palm oil plantations. Palm oil is a large problem that isn’t being discussed. It is currently the most used oil today and is found in almost everything we use on a daily basis. The high need for palm oil is threatening the lives of millions of animals and plant species every year due to deforestation.
While palm oil is currently one of the main reasons for deforestation, the good news is that it can be produced more sustainably, so we need to implement and make these changes now!
Rainforests are a powerful NATURAL climate solution
We have all heard about climate change and how we need to act now to stop it, but honestly, we have a natural solution that we need to care for! Based on a 2017 analysis, climate scientists concluded that natural climate solutions, including protecting, conserving and restoring our forests, along with sustainable agriculture, could provide more than ⅓ of the global climate mitigation necessary to stabilize warming! This means that if we can help protect our rainforests, we can help protect our planet. Do your part!
Sources: Han de Groot. April 1, 2019. Forests Are a Low-Tech but High-Impact Way to Fight Climate Change. Scientific American.
Photo by Mandy Choi.