What is a rainforest?
Rainforests as the name suggests (and you have probably guessed) is simply a area covered by forest that has lots of rain, at least 80 inches a year. Amazingly Manchester only has an average annual rainfall of 992mm, which is only 39 inches!
Does it always rain?
The simple answer is, it depends. There are 2 types of Rainforest?
Tropical rainforests, which are found close to the equator, have high temperatures heavy rainfall all year round. The major areas of tropical rainforests are in South East Asia, West Africa and South and Central America. The best known rain forests are found in tropical regions between the Tropics of cancer and Capricorn.
Temperate rainforests are found along coasts in the temperate zone.
The largest temperate rainforests are found on North America’s Pacific Coast and stretch from Northern California up into Canada. Temperate rainforests have one long wet winter/spring season, and a dry foggy summer.
Where Can we find Rainforests?
Rainforests can be found in every continent on Earth except Antarctica. The largest rainforests on Earth surround the Amazon River in South America and the Congo River in Africa. The tropical islands of Southeast Asia and parts of Australia support dense rainforest habitats. Even the cool evergreen forests of North America’s Pacific Northwest and Northern Europe are a type of rainforest.
Rainforests are Earth’s oldest living ecosystems, with some at least 70 million years. Incredibly, even though they cover ony 6-8% of the Earths surface they are extremely diverse and complex, home to more than half of the world’s plant and animal species. This makes rainforests astoundingly dense with flora and fauna. It is said tht a 10-square-kilometer (4-square-mile) patch of rainforest could contain as many as 1,500 flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 400 species of birds and 150 species of butterflies. In comparison, the city of Manchester is 44.63 square miles
Why are Rainforests Important?
Rainforests play a really important role in keeping our planet healthy.
Importantly, rainforest absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen that we depend on for our survival. By absorbing CO2 rainforests help to stabilise the Earth’s climate.
Rainforests also help to maintain the world’s water cycle by adding water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration which creates clouds. Water generated in rainforests travel around the world; scientists think that moisture generated in the forests of Africa ends up falling as rain in the Americas!
Furthermore, many foods that you may eat on a daily basis originated in the tropical forests, such foods as: bananas, avocados, mangos, cacao, coffee, and papaya, among others. The same is true for medicines: indigenous shamans have used plants for generations to diagnose and treat illness. Some of these medicinal plants have been developed into modern drugs for treating from cancers and infections.