Primate Pal Rainforest Information
Most rainforests are found in a belt around the Earth, extending north and south of the equator. This region is known as "the tropics". In this area the temperature does not fall below 64 degrees F. Hawai'i is the only part of the USA that is in the tropics.
The two major continental rain forests have large river systems. The Amazon river in South America and the Congo river in Africa.
These areas are called rainforests because they get lots of rain. On average, rainforests receive between 79 and 394 inches of rain annually. The rain forest on Kauai gets over 400 inches of rain a year.
Rain forests have 4 general layers, each with their own ecosystem.
EMERGENT - Tallest trees - hot and windy.
CANOPY - Next tallest trees, very thick, leaves block the sunlight, rain hits trees, then runs off the leaves and onto the lower layers of the forest. The canopy then traps the moisture in. Trees in the rainforest are green year round.
UNDERSTORY - Smaller trees and plants.
FOREST FLOOR - Dark, damp and covered with wildflowers, ferns, mosses, mushrooms and trees with strange roots.
Many different plants and animals inhabit the rainforest including the monkey species that we care for at Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
One acre of rainforest contains about 200 different species of trees. The same area of temperate forest contains about 4 or 5 different species of trees.
10% of the world’s known species live in the Amazon.
The Amazon Rainforest is over half the size of the entire United States of America.
Over 25% of natural medicines have been discovered in rainforests.
Of the 3,000 species of plants known to have anti cancer properties 70% come from the rainforest.
More than half of all the World’s plants and animals live in the rainforest.
One out of every five bird species lives in the rainforest.
If you were caught in the rain in the Amazon, you would have about 10 minutes to find your umbrella. The trees are so tightly packed that it can take 10 minutes for the rain to reach the ground below.
DESTRUCTION OF THE RAIN FOREST
Currently, 13 million hectares of forest are lost each year, that’s an area the size of Greece! An area equal to about 40 football fields is destroyed every minute.
According to the UN Environment Programme, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life. Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct for 24 hours.
Logging operations use only 10 % of the trees that they cut when part of the rainforest is cleared. The rest is just left to rot in most cases.
One acre of Peruvian rain forest is worth about $4,500 dollars. After it is cleared to raise cattle it is worth only $2,000.
According to the Rainforest Alliance, 1 out of every 4 people in the world depends on the rainforest for their livelihoods.
The soil of the floor of the rainforest is very poor. Only one crop can be grown without fertilizing the soil again and this is too expensive for the people that live there. As a result they just move on and clear another patch of forest, usually by burning it. This is called "slash-and-burn" agriculture.
The countries that include the rainforests have large increases in their populations and as a result there is an increased need for land to grow food and space for people to live.
Deforestation (rainforests included) contributes almost 5 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year.
The destruction of the rain forest causes what is called a "green house effect". This is what happens when there are more pollutants in the air than the trees can clean, trapping extra heat from the Sun in our atmosphere and causing our planet to warm. Trees take harmful products like carbon dioxide out of the air and change it to oxygen and water, which all living things need to survive.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO HELP PROTECT THE RAINFOREST?
Instead of using timber as the only source of income from a tree, there are many other products that can be harvested without harming the tree, like fruit, fiber, natural latex and medicinal plants.
There are many different conservation groups helping to save the rainforest. Some of these are working with the native people to understand and document the vast knowledge they have about the animals and plants with which they live.
Sanctuaries, Botanical Gardens and Zoos are helping to preserve many rare and endangered species. Groups like Pacific Primate Sanctuary and others are helping to save particular species from extinction.
Countries are setting aside areas of their rainforests as preserves. In Brazil the law requires that 50% of the land must be kept as natural forest, and 25% of Costa Rica is protected rain forest.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Don't buy products that come from the destruction of the forest and its plants and animals. Examples are products that use wood from the rainforest like mahogany and teak. Instead look for products that are made of bamboo or recycled wood.
When it comes to purchasing products, look for the Rainforest Alliance seal (the little frog!). This means the product meets this organization's sustainability standards related to protecting standing forests, sustainable agriculture, and enhancing soil health.
Recycle and reuse products! This helps to prevent more trees from needing to be cut down.
Do buy products that help the rain forest like nuts, chocolate, chewing gum, rubber and other products produced by mature trees that are not destroyed to harvest.
Hawaii has more endangered species than any other state. You can help by contacting a native plant growers group and growing your own endangered species.
Support Pacific Primate Sanctuary, and other groups dedicated to protecting species and land. These efforts cost a lot of money, and require a lot of help. You can support them by volunteering your time, or donating goods and funds.