What are Rainforests
Rainforests, made with 2 words – Rain and Forests. They are essentially forests that are characterized by continuous rainfalls, an enclosed canopy of trees, and rich diversity of species.
The rainforests have evolved over millions of years with many thousands of plants and species living in harmony with nature. The exact number of species is still unknown, with new discoveries every few weeks.
The world’s largest rainforest is the Amazon rainforest, more than half is in Brazil. Other South American countries that share Amazon rainforests are Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.
Rainforests also exist in Congo, Indonesia, Australia, and a few other countries.
Importance of Rainforests
As we all know, trees in the forests have the capacity to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere due to the process of photosynthesis.
But only a few of us know the contribution which rainforests can do, here are 3 major facts –
- Lungs of Planet– Rainforests, cover only 2% of the earth’s surface but have the capacity to absorb far higher levels of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, compared to any other kinds of forests.
- Jewels of the Earth – The rainforests also provide accommodation to the largest number of plants and animals. Some studies have said, 50% of the world’s plant and animal species reside in these forests.
- World’s largest Pharmacy – One of the lesser-known facts is the contribution they make in medicines, beauty products, and food. 25% of all western medicine coming from the ingredients found in the rainforests.
What is this World Rainforest Day?
June 22nd is celebrated as World Rainforest Day to recognize the importance of the rainforests and to create awareness on the need to conserve, protect & grow them exponentially.
Given climate change, our planet needs more land covered with trees and forests – preferably rainforests.
Unfortunately, increasing urbanization, growing population, and insatiable human desires are putting a lot of stress on the rainforests.
Trees and forests are cleared by chainsaws & bulldozers for human expansion, wood uses, agriculture, and raising animals.
Massive deforestation is creating havoc on the ecosystem contributing to droughts, forest fires, and even large-scale criminal activities. There are reports that land mafias, large corporations have ordered killings of local people who have raised their voices to protect the forests.
If deforestation continues at such a fanatic pace, the survival of a large variety of species is doomed.
What can we do to Protect Rainforests?
While World’s Rainforest Day is only one day in a year, but we need to incorporate a routine and lifestyle which is sustainable for the planet.
Here are a few immediate steps, which we can do to protect rainforests –
Thousands of hectares of forest land are brought down not only for wood but for keeping cattle. Hundred more hectares are used for planting soybean, to feed the cattle.
The cows, bull emit strong methane gas into the atmosphere – methane is substantially more potent than carbon dioxide. Thus harming the environment even more.
The beef from the Latin American countries is exported to other regions in South America and the USA
Reducing Consumption of Palm Oil Products
Palm oil is one of the most popular vegetable oil with more than one-third of global consumption. It is used as cooking oil and also as an ingredient for a variety of other uses – bread, lipstick, shampoos, soaps, cookies, and even bio-duel,
Most of the Palm oil comes from the rainforests of Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The massive consumption of palm oil is leading to the displacement of local people, the killing of endangered species, and deforestation. Orangutan, Borneo elephant, and Sumatran tiger are few animals that are being pushed closer to extinction.
Immediate stopping of palm oil and its products might not happen, hence incremental changes would be a way to go. Using sunflower, flaxseed, or olive oil for cooking purposes, checking for the product packaging for the ingredients, etc can be incorporated into our daily lifestyle.
Create an Awesome Home, with Rainforest Plants
Studies have estimated 40000 plant species and more than 15000 trees in Amazon rainforests. Not everything can be brought to the home, but there are few rainforest plants for home use that can be planted in small pots & cups.
Jade plant, Ferns, Syngonium are a few of them, that are relatively easy plants to grow and nurture in your home, balconies, or gardens.
Share and create awareness
The more the people become aware and acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, the greater will be the impact.
We need leaders and decision-makers to take large-scale policy decisions. That can only happen when people participate, speak to their respective policymakers, and implement measures for a productive ecosystem.
We can use Rainforest Day as an occasion to remind ourselves to protect rainforests and encourage others to do the same, but this needs to be a regular exercise.