2Rainforest- a hot humid jungle, mostly found near the equator Equator- an imaginary line around the center of the Earth
3Many tribal people have called the rainforest home for hundreds and thousands of years. They’ve taught us about many of the medicines and foods we use today.They know how to find and use wild plants.
4A rain forest has a great diversity, or variety, of plants and animals. In fact, a rain forest has more species of plants and animals than any other ecosystem on Earth.
5Many of the plants from the rainforest are used for medicine. One-fourth of the drugs that you can buy at the drugstore have products that come from the rainforest.
6It is almost always raining in a rainforest. Rainforests get over 80 inches of rain each year.The rain is evenly distributed throughout the year in a tropical rainforest.
7The temperature in a rainforest never freezes and never gets very hot. The range of temperature is usually between degrees Fahrenheit.
8The soil of a tropical rainforest is only about 3-4 inches thick. Thick clay lies underneath the soil.Once damaged, the soil of a tropical rainforest takes many years to recover.
9The Forest Floor- the ground floor of the rainforest The Forest Floor is a fairly open area, carpeted with moss and decaying leaves.Small plants that need little light, such as ferns and moss grow here.
10The Forest Floor, continued Higher up there is a dense ceiling of leaves and branches that blocks out most of the sunlight.The leaves also keep rain and wind from reaching the forest floor.
11The Forest Floor, continued Most of the forest floor inhabitants are decomposers that live on leaf litter and other debris.
12The Forest Floor, continued On the forest floor of a rainforest in Central America, you might see:an anacondaan armadilloa poison arrow froga wood turtlea fer-de-lancea jaguara caimanarmy antsleafcutter antsflightless birds
13The Understory- the next layer above the forest floor The Understory is a tangle of shrubs, young trees, palms and woody plants that can grow in the shade of the taller trees.
14The Understory, continued The leaves of many of the plants in the Understory are especially large, so that they can absorb as much sunlight as possible.The plants in this layer of the forest rarely grow higher than twelve feet.
15The Understory, continued In the Understory of a rainforest in Central America you might see:batssnakesbirdsa red-eyed tree frogan iguanaa tarantulaspider monkeysa jaguarinsects
16The Canopy- the third layer from the bottom Trees as high as 100 feet form a continuous green roof over the forest below.This roof is like a canopy, or an umbrella.
17The Canopy, continuedThis layer gets much of the rainfall, and it keeps the rain from falling on the Understory.There is abundant food and sunlight for thousands of animals and plants.
18The Canopy, continuedIn the canopy of a rainforest in Central America, you might see:three-toed slothstoucansparrotsmacawsspider monkeyshowler monkeysbutterfliessnakesorchidslarge-leafed vineshummingbirds
19The Emergent Layer- the top level of the rainforest This layer has trees that grow to heights of 250 feet.These trees receive the full brunt of the hot sun, wind and rain.They often have thick, waxy leaves to help them retain water and protect themselves from the sun and wind.
20The Emergent Layer, continued In the Emergent Layer of a rainforest in Central America, you might see:a harpy eagleother birds of prey
21Rainforests are very important. They recycle and clean water.The trees and plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their roots, stems, leaves and branches.
22Many of our favorite foods and plants were discovered in rainforests. Rainforest plants are used to make such products as skin lotion, herbal tea and life-saving drugs.Cashew nuts, bananas, pineapple, cucumber, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, lemons and coconuts were originally from rainforests.
23Rainforest Benefits Table Helping the environment Community resources Personal enjoyment-source of carbon -clean and regular water serenity-drives water and climate fresh air scenic viewscycles tourism bushwalking-helps stop flooding recreation bird watching-prevents erosion genetic resources camping-replenishes groundwater -scientific discoveries lifestyle-animals and insects education sense of placepollinate plants -source of plants for national identity-plants feed animals horticultural industry cultural identity-animals eat insect pests food sense of history-habitat -pharmaceutical products-refuge for rare species hydroenergy-breaks down waste-shade and shelter-soil fertility
24However, rainforests are threatened. Rainforests used to cover 14% of the Earth’s land.Now they cover less than 6%.
25Rainforests are being destroyed at a rate of about 75 million acres per year. Trees are being used for their wood.Land is being cleared for roads, farming and grazing.
26The destruction of the rainforests is affecting the Earth’s climate. The burning of rainforests releases carbon dioxide.With fewer trees to take in carbon dioxide and transpire water back into the air, the Earth’s warmth could be trapped inside a growing layer of these gases.
27Flooding is another threat. Without the protection of rainforest plants, soil is washed away by rain and wind.Without vegetation to slow the rain down, it rushes into streams and rivers, causing them to rise and flood vast areas.
28The people are forced to leave the rainforests. They can no longer eat the food they found in the forest.They are exposed to new diseases that were not in the forest.
29Many animals can only survive in the rainforests. If their homes are destroyed, they will become extinct forever.
30Many people are working hard to save the rainforests. One way is to create protected places called reserves.
31Selective cutting is done in some places. This means that loggers and farmers can cut down certain trees, but others must be left to grow.Extractive reserves could also help.In these reserves, people are allowed to take only limited amounts of fruit, plants, nuts, latex for the production of rubber, and other natural products.