The Amazon is synonymous with Central and South America – it’s the largest of the rainforests, supporting a huge number of plants and animals and hugely important to our own survival. Taking up most of the Amazon Basin, the Amazon rainforest is mostly contained within Brazil, and stretches into Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and smaller parts of some other South American countries.
Here are ten interesting facts about the Amazon (and rainforests in general) that you may not have heard before.
1. Around 80% of the food we eat originally came from rainforests. Some of the more popular examples include coffee, chocolate, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, black pepper, pineapples and corn. At The Inside Track we basically live on coffee. That’s reason enough to save the rainforest!
2. Tropical rainforests only cover about 6% of the Earth’s surface, but they are home to more than half the world’s total plant and animal species.
3. The forest floor is almost completely dark – with less that 1% of the available sunlight making it through the tree canopy above.
4. There are around 3000 fruits found in rainforests, and in the west we make use of around 200 of them. However, indigenous tribes make use of over 2000!
5. The rainforests have begun to be destroyed in the last 100 years to make way for farm land. Today, the rainforests are being destroyed by 1.5 acres every second. That’s not a typo.
6. With deforestation continuing at such a fast rate, we’ve created the most rapid extinction rate in the history of the world. 137 rainforest species are exterminated completely every single day.
7. Over a quarter of the medicines we use today have their origins in the rainforests – and that’s after only about 1% of rainforest plants have been examined for their medicinal properties. Imagine what else could be there? It’s not outlandish to think that our best chance of curing the diseases that plague our world could lie within the rainforest. But with so many species exterminated every day, we may never find out.
8. We often think that the soil in the rainforest is really fertile to support such a huge range of plant and animal life. But rainforest land is not really any good for farming. Once cleared, the soil is of such low quality that it can hardly be used to grow anything. After a year or two of farming, the land is totally bereft of nutrients – leaving a useless patch of land.
9. Some people call the rainforests ‘the world’s lungs’, but decomposition of plant matter absorbs as much oxygen as the trees produce. It’s probably more accurate to think of them as having a cooling effect on the global climate, as they absorb a huge amount of heat from the sun. About 30% of our carbon emissions come from one thing – burning the rainforests.
10. If deforestation continues, we’ll completely lose the rainforests within the next 40 years.
Clearly now is the time to visit this amazing region, learn more about this natural marvel and to help gain and spread awareness about how urgent the need to save the rainforest is. Stay in jungle lodges or riverboats and take in the beauty of this biologically diverse region. Go hiking, swimming, canoeing or simply photograph the many thousands of mammals, birds, reptiles and other creatures all sharing a home within the Amazon.
Source: How Rainforests Work