Guide to Rainforests
Rainforests are really big places in areas like South America - think of a small forest but imagine it's so big that it would take you weeks to get out of it. They're really huge! They are home to many kinds of animal and many kinds of plants - and get their name 'rainforests' from the fact they are known for having large amounts of rain.
Every year, up to 80 inches of rain can fall. The season in which the most rain falls in the forest is known as the 'monsoon season'. Without all of this rain, the rainforests would not be able to live. This is because there are so many plants in the forest that need water, that with only a little bit of water there wouldn't be as many plants as there are.
Nearly three quarters of all species of plants and animal are originally from the rainforest areas. It is thought that millions and millions of plants, insects and small organisms are yet to be discovered - with scientists out in the rainforests looking for new species nearly all the time.
Because of the large amounts of species that can be found in a rainforest, many people call rainforests the 'jewels of the Earth'.
The rainforests are also considered to be the 'World's largest drug store', because of how the rainforest has provided us with over a quarter of all the natural medicines we have discovered.
What you must also remember is that the rainforests on earth create around 30% of all the oxygen in our atmosphere, the same oxygen that we use to breathe. So without these rainforests it might be that there would be a gradually smaller and smaller amount of oxygen in the atmosphere!
In the undergrowth area of the rainforest, there is barely any sunlight. This is because there is an absolutely huge amount of trees in the forest which are all competing to get as much light as possible. So you can think of the top of the forest as a roof - because there are so many leaves and so many trees trying to get as high as possible to get the light that they need. As there is so much light, you will find few plants at ground level, apart from the odd shrub. It also means it is possible to walk through the rainforest.
If the canopy, the roof of the forest, ever gets the destroyed - the ground beneath is soon taken over by many vines, shrubs and small trees which becomes known as a 'jungle'. This is where the plants start competing for resources (like humans do!) and start competing for light, growing ever taller by the day to beat the other plants.
But not all rainforests are exactly the same! There are tropical rainforests, and temperate rainforests. Rainforests are wonderfully diverse places and we, as human beings, should be doing our best to preserve the huge amounts of species that are there so that future generations can embrace everything that they have to offer.
Related Teacher Resources That Are Worth A Look:
- Animals of the Rainforest WebQuest
- Graphing Rainforest Data
- How a Rainforest Works
- Live From The Rainforest
- Soil in the Amazon
- Sounds of the Rainforest