Rain forests are those forests which experience a high amount of rainfall. They are important ecosystems which have a sustainable model for the biotin species in them. Nearly 40-70% of all species originate in the rain forests. Tropical rain forests are a natural treasure with more than 25% of herbal medicines found here. Rain forests are characterized by dense vegetation and through photosynthesis, they contribute to more than 28% of the total oxygen movement on earth. Today, with so much deforestation, only about 6% of the earth’s surface is covered with rain forests. However, they are inhabited by more than half of the known species of animals and plants in the world.
Types of rainforests
The rainforests on the earth can be classified as below:
Tropical rainforests – They are the most well-known type of rainforests. They can be told apart by the warm and wet climate they witness, with no real dry season. They are typically found around the equatorial belt. The average temperature is usually more than 64 degrees F all the year round. The rainfall is more than 168cm and can go up to 1000cm. Even though the Tropical forests are the most famous rainforests, some rainforests are found in the temperate and subtropical zones too.
Temperate rainforests – The temperate rainforests occur only in some parts of the world. They are in the ‘temperate zones’, i.e., places where the temperatures vary greatly during different seasons in a year. They are found in some parts of North America, Europe, Australia, East Asia, and South America.
Subtropical rainforests – Subtropical rainforests are forests in those regions which typically lie between the tropical regions and the temperate regions. The subtropical zones are characterized by warm summers and cool, mild winters.
The forest cover for Tropical rainforests according to regions is as below:
- Americas (53%)
- Africa (27%)
- Asia and Oceania (20%)
Quick facts about rain forests
Tropical rainforests cover approximately 3% of the total surface area of the earth. This comes to about 8% of the total land surface on the earth.
Even though they cover only a small part of the earth, they are rich in the diversity of flora and fauna they hold. A tropical rainforest may have over 480 different species of trees per hectare.
- The living component in a rainforest is dominated by trees.
- Many of the things we use in our daily lives come from the rainforests, directly or indirectly.
- With dense vegetation, rainforests help in fighting global warming
Deforestation is a major concern. The forest cover is rapidly diminishing due to urbanization, mining, agriculture, cattle grazing, timber cutting, etc.
Different rainforests around the world
Central American rainforests
Central America was once covered entirely with dense rainforests. However, over the years, a lot of deforestation has occurred on account of cattle grazing and sugarcane fields. These rainforests, like many others, are home to several species of plants and animals that are only found in these regions. It is well-known for its diversity in the bird species and has many different types of parrots. The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve located in Central America is known for its lush cover of mosses, ferns, and flowers.
The Amazon rainforests
Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. It’s variety in the flora and fauna is unparalleled with 20% of the birds and plants, and 10% of mammal species on the earth being found in the Amazon. However, deforestation has affected the Amazon jungles too with just 69% of the total forest cover remaining now.
Earth’s second largest rainforest is in Central Africa. To the southeast, is the Madagascar island which was densely forested once, but now it has lost more than 65% of its forest cover. The jungles have flooded areas, mangrove swamps, and high cloud forests.
The rainforests in these regions are distributed from India in the west to the Java and Sumatra islands in the east. They also cover parts of southeast Asia. The mainland Asia has a subtropical climate and torrential rains. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka is well-known for its thick vegetation. Elephants, leopards and other wild animals inhabit this forest. The Kinabalu National Park in Malaysia stretches over four different climate zones and is home to a wide variety of birds, mammals and insects.
These subtropical rainforests are characterized by dense undergrowth and multilayer canopies. The wet winds from the Pacific flow over the Australian rainforests. The Tamborine Mountains National Park, Border Ranges National Park, and the Lamington National Park are some of the forest reserves in this region.