ecosystems for our planet. They contain high levels of biodiversity, and provide many resources and natural wonders that we are just now beginning to discover that could benefits all of humanity and the rest of the world’s environment as well. The following are just a few of the amazing facts about our world’s rainforests.
- There are two types of rainforests. There are both tropical and temperate rainforests in the world, with tropical rainforests as the more common of the two. Rainforests are found on every continent except Antarctica.
- Rainforests are very important for those living in poverty. 90% of the world’s more than 1.2 billion poor people rely heavily on rainforests to meet their daily needs¹.
- Rainforests contain a large portion of the global fresh water supply. Approximately 20% of the world’s fresh water resides in tropical rainforests, mostly in the Amazon Basin².
- Tropical rainforests are important sources of useful medicines. There have been many important medicines that have originated from tropical rainforest plants, including those that treat inflammation, rheumatism, diabetes, muscle tension, malaria, heart and skin conditions, arthritis, glaucoma, cancer, and many more.
Approximately 25% of Western medicines have come from rainforest plants, and over 2,000 rainforest plants have been identified to date that contain anti-cancer properties. An estimated 70% of the plants have been identified so far by the U.S. National Cancer Institute that can treat cancer are found only in rainforests³.
- Rainforests exhibit global temperature control. Rainforests help to regulate the world’s temperature and weather patterns. Rainforests are also one of the largest reservoirs of carbon storage on the planet and reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- Rainforests are important to our food supply. Many important and beloved foods in our daily diets originally came from the tropical rainforests, including avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, winter squash and yams, black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, tumeric, coffee, vanilla, and nuts like Brazil nuts and cashews. How dull our diets would be without many of these culinary gifts from our world’s rainforests!
- Rainforests produce a large percentage of our world’s oxygen supply. For instance, the Amazon Rainforest supplies about 20% of the oxygen on Earth⁴.
- Rainforests contain a high biodiversity of plant species. Rainforests contain about half of the world’s plant species. The trees in tropical rainforests are so dense that rainfall takes about 10 minutes for a drop of rain to travel from the rainforest canopy to its floor⁵,⁶.
- Rainforests are Important Homes for Pollinators. On average, there are more than 50,000 insect species living within one square mile of rainforest⁷.
- Earth’s rainforests are in danger and their destruction is contributing to climate change. Approximately 30% of global carbon emissions come from the burning of the Earth’s rainforests⁸.
May we protect our beautiful rainforests so that they will be there for future generations on this planet, as well as for our own sake!