Primate Pal Rainforest Information
Most rain forests 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. Hawaii 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 rain forests because they get lots of rain. 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 rain forest including the monkey species that we care for at Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
One acre of rain forest 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.
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 rain forest.
More than half of all the World’s plants and animals live in the rain forest.
One out of every five bird species lives in the rain forest.
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 7 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 rain forest 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.
The soil of the floor of the rain forest 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.
The countries that include the rain forests 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.
The destruction of the rain forest is believed by some people to be causing a "green house effect". This is what happens when there are more pollutants in the air than the trees can clean. 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 rain forest. Some of these are working with the native people to research the vast knowledge that 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 rain forests 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 rain forest like mahogany and teak. Instead look for products that are made of bamboo or recycled wood.
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 you 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.