Rainforests cover less than two percent of the Earth’s surface yet they are home to some forty to fifty percent of all life forms on our planet: as many as 30 million species of plants, animals and insects. The Rainforests are quite simply, the richest, oldest most productive and most complex ecosystems on earth. As biologist Norman Myers says, “Rainforests are the finest celebration of nature ever known on the planet and never before has nature’s greatest orchestration been so threatened.”
The Rainforests are very important to the world for many reasons, most of them being very simple. One of the major reasons is that the plants in the forest turn carbon dioxide into clean air, which helps us, fight pollution. Also, by absorbing carbon dioxide, the rainforests help deter the greenhouse effect.
The plants and animals of the rainforest also provide us with food, fuel, wood, shelter, jobs and medicine. “Imagine losing the potential cure for cancer or AIDS that might have been found in an undiscovered plant from the rainforest.” (Tropical Rainforest Coalition, 1996) “The vine Aucistrocladus koropensis may be effective in treating AIDS; we can only guess what other beneficial plants may be destroyed before we find them.” (Allo, 1996) It is repeated often that the rainforest contains important plants that will cure the worst diseases of today. Although there is scientific proof of its value, the rainforest continues to disappear. “In every sense, a standing rainforest supplies more economic wealth then if it were cleared…yet deforestation continues at an alarming rate.” (Tropical Rainforest Coalition, 1996)
Tropical rainforests are found in eighty-five countries around the world. “Ninety percent of these forests are concentrated into fifteen countries, each country containing over ten million hectares each.” (Malaysian Timber Council, 1995) Tropical rainforests are located around the equator, where temperatures stay above eighty degrees Fahrenheit year round. These forests are very dense and damp. “Although tropical rainforests cover just seven percent of the Earth’s surface, they can provide habitat for between fifty to ninety percent of its plant and animal species. In 1990, tropical rainforests totaled some 1.7 billion hectares.” (Forest Alliance of British Columbia, 1996)
The cause of the destruction of the rainforest was put very simply by the Forest Alliance of British Columbia (1996): “The global population has more than tripled this century, and will continue to grow for the next 50 years, particularly in developing countries. World population is expected to reach ten billion by 2050.” Because the number of people living on the planet increases every year, the number of forest products needed also increases, forcing temperate and tropical rainforests to be cut down. ...