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Rainforests Essay

1648 words - 7 pages

I. Rainforests: What they are and where they're foundThere are two types of rainforests: tropical and temperate. Tropical rainforests are found in 85 countries around the world. Ninety percent of these forests are concentrated into fifteen countries, each country containing over 10 million hectares each. Tropical rainforests are located near the equator, where temperatures stay above 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round. These dense, damp forests occur in Latin and South America, Africa, and in Southeast Asia. Although tropical rainforests cover just seven percent of the Earth's surface, they can provide habitat for between 50 and 90 percent of its plant and animal species. In 1990, tropical rainforests totaled some 1.7 billion hectares. Half of the world's rainforests lie within the borders of Brazil, Indonesia, and Zaire.A tropical rainforest has three layers: the forest floor, the understory, and the canopy. The forest floor has poor soil. Mainly insects live on this layer, although large mammals like gorillas and jaguars are also found there. Many smaller animals, including anteaters, lemurs, and tree kangaroos live in the understory. This is also where many small trees and shrubs are found. The canopy, or top layer, is made up of the tops of trees which can grow to be over 200 feet high. Many tropical birds, monkeys, apes, snakes, and other animals live in the canopy.Then there are temperate rainforests. Temperate rainforests are much younger than tropical rainforests. Most temperate rainforests are less than 10,000 years old, compared to the tropical rainforests' millions of years. The soil in temperate forests are full of much more nutrients than that of the tropics. Temperate rainforests are located along the Pacific coast of Canada and the United States, and are also found in New Zealand, Tasmania, Chile, Ireland, as well as Scotland and Norway. Temperate rainforests are much more scarce than tropical rainforests.II. Importance of the RainforestsThe rainforests are very important to the world for many reasons, most of them being very simple. One major reason 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 trees of the rainforest store carbon dioxide in their roots, stems, branches, and leaves.The plants and animals of the rainforest also provide us with food, fuel wood, shelter, jobs, and medicines. Imagine losing the potential cure for cancer or AIDS that might have been found in an undiscovered plant from the rainforest. It is speculated that 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. 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 fact,...

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