Rainforests are very thick, wet and warm forests. They have lots of tall trees and lots of rain.
There are 2 types of rainforest:
TROPICAL – Very hot and found near the equator in places such as South East Asia, West Africa and South and Central America.
TEMPERATE – In a number of wet areas near the sea in places such as North West America and West Coast of New Zealand, Tasmania….
Lots of plants and animals live in the rainforests. They are home to more than half of the plant and animal species in the entire world. All the rain and warmth helps the plants grow. With all the different plants the animals have plenty to eat.
Rainforests have 4 layers:
Top (emergent) layer – Only the very tallest trees reach this level and because it is at the top it is very sunny and hot.
Who lives here? birds, small monkeys, butterflies, bats, snakes and lots of different types of bugs.
Canopy – Most of trees in the forest grow to this height. There are so many trees that their branches act like a roof over the rest of the forest and block out a lot of light.
Who lives here? monkeys, frogs, birds and sloths, as well as lizards, snakes and many insects. In fact because of all the fruits, seeds, flowers and leaves that grow in the canopy layer most of the insects and animals in the rainforest live in this area of the forest.
Understorey layer – There is not much light here but many climbing plants like vines grow here and smaller bushes and young trees.
Who lives here? frogs, birds, butterflies, and snakes
Forest Floor – is very dark, and wet and full of lots of dead leaves and branches. The forest floor is very dark because all the trees grow so close together that they stop the sunlight reaching the ground.
Who lives here? Some of the bigger forest animals such as jaguars in South America, tigers and elephants in Asia, gorillas and leopards in Africa and of course lots of insects.
The Amazon Rainforest
One of the most incredible places TOCK has visited is the Amazon Rainforest. He learnt that the Amazon is a wonderful place, a true taonga/treasure and that people need to care for it because just like other forests it does a very important job in keeping our Earth healthy. Here are some amazing facts about the Amazon rainforest that TOCK wants to share with you plus ways we can all help to keep it and all the other rainforests awesome.
The Amazon Rainforest is found in South America and is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. In fact it goes across 8 countries – Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Bolivia and the overseas territory of French Guiana.
Some interesting Facts about the Amazon Rainforest:
- It contains the biggest variety of different types of land animals and plants living on the Earth including harpy eagles, jaguars, pink river dolphins, and it is home to black spider monkeys, sloths, electric eels, dangerous fish like piranhas, and poison dart frogs.
- One of the deadliest animals that lives in the rainforest is the Pirarucu. This is a type of meat-eating fish that devours other fish and can grow up to 3 metres long – as long as a car!!!
- 40,000 plant species grow in the Amazon rainforest.
- The Amazon rainforest is thought to be home to 2.5 million different types of insects and 3000 types of fish.
- Due to the thickness of the tree canopy (the top branches and leaves of the trees), the floor of the Amazon forest is always dark. It is so thick that when it rains, it can take about 10 minutes for the water to reach the ground.
- With all the different animals in the forest, the Amazon can be a very noisy place. One of the loudest animals in the forest is the Howler Monkey, whose call can be heard upto 3 miles away.
- People also live in the forest in fact it is thought that 400 or 500 different groups of native tribes live in the Amazon and around 50 of these tribes may not have had contact with the outside world.
Some reasons why Rainforests are so important are:
- One of the great things about trees is that they produce oxygen, which we need to breath. The Amazon Rainforest is often called “The Lungs of the Earth”.
- Because of all the trees and plants the rainforests help to take carbon dioxide out of the air. Too much carbon dioxide in the air can make the Earth hot so trees help to keep the Earth temperature just right.
- Lots of medicines come originally from plants that grow in rainforests. Because the Amazon is home to so many different plants lots of the medicines we use today come from Amazon Rainforest plants, with more being discovered all the time.
- Rainforests provide a home for so many marvellous creatures – some which are still being discovered.
- See our Tree page for more benefits of Trees including shade, food…
It made TOCK unhappy to hear that many rainforests including the Amazon rainforest are being damaged:
In areas of the forest, lots of trees are being cut down or destroyed and no more of these types of trees are planted to replace them. This is called Deforestation. Often people are cutting the trees down in the Amazon rainforest so they can build cattle ranches or grow other crops or for mining and logging. In other rainforests in the world such as Sumatra native trees are being cut down to build palm oil plantations. If this continues then many of these amazing animals and plants will have no where to live.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:
- Only buy foods—like bananas, coffee, cocoa and that are grown in a way that is safe for the environment, for wildlife, and for people – Look for labels on the food that say they have been sustainably grown.
- Organise a school fundraiser to raise money to donate to an organization that works to take care of the rainforests.
- Learn more about the animals and plants that live in the Amazon Rainforest and other rainforests around the world.
- Only buy sustainable palm oil products – Only buy food and other things like toothpaste that says on the label that it is made from sustainable palm oil. The great news is that people can produce palm oil sustainably – protecting species like the orangutan. Instead of cutting down forests they can plant palm trees – which produce the palm oil – on land that does not already have trees on it.
- Make/put a ‘No junk mail’ sign on your letterbox.
- Don’t waste paper – use both sides and put used paper in the recycle bin so it can be used to make recycled paper.
- As a family when shopping for things made from wood and paper like toilet paper, books, furniture look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label on packaging. This means that the trees used are grown in sustainable forests (where new trees are planted to replace the ones that are cut down – so the forests do not disappear).
TOCK’s RAINFOREST QUIZ:
TOCK RAINFOREST COMPETITION
Why not take a look at TOCK’s Wonderful Rainforests Competition…
TOCK’s RAINMAKER ACTIVITY
TOCK was so impressed with the sound of the rain in the rainforest, he decided to make his own rainmaker. You can make one too by following the instructions on our craft page:-