Rainforests

Rainforest Facts For Kids

Rainforests are exactly as the name suggests a forest that gets heaps of rain. But these forests are so incredibly important to our entire planet.

Take a look at our amazing rainforest facts and you’ll know all there is to know about these amazing areas of our planet.

What are rainforests?

Let’s first take a look at what rainforests are.

rainforest

******

  • A rainforest is a thick warm, wet, woodland area that has heaps of rain all year rain; in fact they get more than 80 inches (about 2000 millimeters) of rain in twelve months. If you compare that to the U.S. their average yearly rainfall is 28 inches (715 millimeters). It just goes to show how much rain actually falls in the rainforests, that’s quite something.

******

  • The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. It covers over 1.4 billion acres (five and a half a million square kilometers). That’s quite some distance for just one rainforest. In fact the Amazon Rainforest is so huge that if it were a state; it would have been the 9th biggest country as a whole. Wow.

******

  • Rainforests are being cut down which is really sad. They used to cover about 14% of the Earth’s surface but now that they’re disappearing they only cover around 6% (some sources say 8%, but it gives you an idea).

cute monkey

******

  • Some scientists believe that these awesome rainforests won’t be able to survive for more than 40 years. That’s frightening, especially when you find out how these amazing beauties of nature help us all.

******

  • There are two types of rainforest, temperate and tropical.

******

  • Temperate rainforests lie between the tropics and the polar circles of the Earth. They are found in a couple of regions around the world such as western North America, south-eastern Australia and New Zealand. The types of animals that find here are pumas (mountain lion), bears, gray wolves, elk (deer), Siberian tigers, snow leopards, kangaroos and wombats.

elk

******

  • Tropical rainforests lie in the tropics and they are found in areas close to the equator like Asia, Africa, Central America and the Pacific Islands. In these types of forests you’ll find animals like the chimpanzee, gorilla, Indian cobra, orangutan, jaguar, monkey, leopard, parrot, iguana and the tree frog.

******

  • Over half of the Amazon rainforest is just in Brazil but it stretches way beyond that. It is also in other countries including Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, Bolivia, Suriname and French Guiana. It certainly knows how to travel.

******

  • Tropical rainforests are divided into 4 layers called the emergent, canopy, understory and the forest floor.

******

  • The emergent layer has lots of tall trees that grow above the canopy. They can be up to 266 feet (81 meters) high. Wow that’s tall for a tree.

******

  • The canopy zone of the rainforest contains the upper parts of the trees, an area that reaches heights of 65 to 130 feet (20 to 40 meters) high.

tree heights

******

  • The understory layer in the rainforest is under the leaves of the trees but above the ground. It is cool and dark here.

******

  • The forest floor is almost totally in darkness from all the trees; in fact only 2% of the sunlight there reaches through the canopy of trees above.

What lives in rainforests?

Amazingly rainforests are home to over half the world’s species, so there are certainly heaps of living creatures and things to find in them.

  • Well there are still a number of traditional tribes that live in rainforests, and they have absolutely no contact with the outside world. This would be quite cool, nice and peaceful. At the moment 200,000 Indians live in the Amazon Rainforest while 500 years before there were 10,000,000 isolated tribes. That is a huge loss of traditional tribes.

******

  • If you had to go an expedition here you would see so much; exotic orchids, giant armadillos, colorful songbirds and monkeys are just some of the creatures that live here.

monkey

******

  • But you’d better watch out for some of the more dangerous animals you could come across like the cougar, jaguar and anaconda.
  • This is crazy; nearly 40% to 75% of all species are native to rainforests.

******

  • Did you know that even now billions of species of animals and plants haven’t even been discovered yet? Can you imagine just how many of these things we’ve never ever seen in our lives before?

******

  • There are loads of rare flower species in the rainforests of Australia; in fact you won’t find 80% of them anywhere else in the world. Seems like a trip to Australia would be good.

******

  • In the South American rainforests, there are over 2,000 species of butterflies. That must be awesome to see.

butterfly

******

  • The Central African forests contain over 8,000 plant species.

******

  • The most common creatures in rainforests are insects. They live in every zone of a rainforest. There are also more small animals than large and more plant eaters (herbivores) than meat eaters (carnivores).

How do rainforests help us?

Amazingly these massive wet forests are critical to the entire Earth and they give us so much. Let’s discover how they help us.

  • Unbelievably tropical rainforests are known as the largest drugstore in the world as over 25% of the natural medicines that have been discovered come from rainforests. So they certainly keep us healthy for starters. There are heaps and heaps of plants that help for all sorts of medical conditions and most of them come right from these amazing rainforests. Amazingly all these medicines come from only 1% of rainforest plants. Imagine what else could be out there to help sick people.

******

  • Rainforests create about 40% of the global oxygen that we use. Some sources say about 30%, but whichever one is the most accurate that’s still pretty unbelievable. That’s quite a major help to us, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to breathe too well. By creating all this oxygen they keep our temperatures and weather patterns in check.

******

  • The Amazon Rainforest itself is constantly turning carbon dioxide into oxygen so some people call it the ‘lungs’ of the Earth.

lungs

******

  • Rainforests have a cooling effect on our climate, which is great considering climate change, as they absorb a huge amount of heat from the sun. That’s a big help to our planet!

******

  • One fifth of the world’s freshwater supply is in the Amazon rainforest. That’s quite something.

******

  • Almost 80% of our fruits and vegetables come from rainforests. We also get nuts, drinks like coffee and tea, beans, grains and fish from rainforests and more. Wow, they seriously do keep us healthy what with medicines, oxygen and healthy food.

coffee tea

******

  • The plants in rainforests are full of alkaloids. These alkaloids help protect plants and trees from bugs and diseases and are also great for healing purposes.

******

  • The plants of the rainforests protect against land erosion, flooding and pollution.

high-water-flooding

******

  • Rainforest tourism helps the local economies which brings them much needed money.

******

  • Rainforest fibers are also found in rugs, mattresses, ropes and strings, fabrics, industrial processes and more. Their oils, gums and resins are used in insecticides, rubber products, fuel, paint, varnish and wood finishing products. Tropical oils are also important ingredients in cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, disinfectants and detergents. Wow, tropical rainforests are pretty much everywhere in our daily lives.

Rainforests need to be protected

Rainforests give so much back to the planet, and they are being cut down for various reasons. Here are some interesting facts on why they need to be protected and what’s being done about it.

  • This is a frightening fact! Every single second football field sizes of rainforests are being destroyed. That is just so not cool. That’s over 31 million football fields of rainforest each year.

******

  • Why are rainforests being destroyed? Well the trees are being cut down for wood for construction, furniture and burning. The areas are being cleared for farming and cattle grazing and also roads are being built.

cattle

******

  • This is a bit sad; all the species are dropping off at the rate of 50,000 species every year. If things continue at this alarming rate, almost 50% of the species could face extinction in the next 100 years. And right now, 137 rainforest species are completely killed off every single day.

******

  • There are about 3,000 different types of fruits in rainforests, and in our culture we only eat about 200 of them. However, indigenous tribes make use of over 2000!

******

  • Tropical forests give us some of the most awesome and valuable woods in the world like teak, mahogany, rosewood, balsa, sandalwood and many more. They’re everywhere, but if we keep taking and taking these woods we might destroy the world that these trees live in.

******

  • In some tropical nations, where they don’t have enough money to run the country, often forests are cleared in the hope of making enough money to support their nation. Big industrial industries like timber, agriculture and mining see these areas as a means to making heaps of cash.

forests

******

  • This might surprise you. People think that the soil in the rainforest is really good quality soil for crops and stuff, which is why they are often cut down. But strangely enough rainforest land is not any good for farming. Once it has been cleared, the soil is such low quality that it can hardly be used to grow anything. After a year or two of farming, the land has no nutrients and there ends up being a useless patch of land. So cutting the rainforests down doesn’t do much to help in the farming industries at all. Hopefully people start to realize this one day.

******

  • But then you get the farmers and loggers that take down the trees to feed their families. But by doing this these farmers and loggers can’t feed their families forever.

******

  • By burning down rainforests this is responsible for about 30% of all our greenhouse gas emissions. Now this is amazing, that is more than all the world’s planes, trains and cars combined. That is a lot of greenhouse gas.

******

  • Unfortunately us humans are to blame for getting rid of over half of the tropical forests that we used to have. If things carry on the way they do, we’ll be facing a massive extinction, similar to that of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. We could lose plants, animal’s even loads of traditional tribes, which would be very sad indeed.

dinosaur image

******

  • There is good news however, the cutting down of trees has been reducing and parts of the conserved land has been increasing over the last 10 years. So that’s certainly something and a step in the right direction.

Other Interesting  Information About Rainforests

  • Every day bamboo plants in rainforests grow by up to 9 inches (about 23 centimeters) taller. Every single day, they grow almost as long as a ruler. These are some seriously big plants.

******

  • There are tens of thousands of trees scattered all over the rainforest and their topmost layer is very thick. If there had to be a shower, the drops of water only touch the ground after ten minutes. That is some seriously thick foliage up there.

******

  • In the South American tropical rainforests, sloths creep so slowly that algae starts growing on its body. No way!

******

  • Did you know that people keep many animals as pets like frogs, toucans, parrots, monkeys, baby alligators, snakes, turtles and even insects? Well these all come from rainforests and some of these animals are becoming extinct because we like them so much as pets.

frog

******

  • There’s an amazing bird in rainforests called the Jacana. They have very long ‘toes’ that spread which are very thin and weak. Do you know what this does? It allows them to walk on lily pads. Any other birds that try and do this just can’t. So this is one cool animal.

******

  • Tribes who live in rainforests don’t have any walls on their houses. Do you know why? Well it’s because it gets really hot in the rainforests and they don’t need much privacy. Of course when they bath in the river there is more privacy, so you wouldn’t have to worry about that! If you’re used to your own bedroom at home, you certainly wouldn’t get one here. They build a home with poles and a thatch roof. They make sure the roof is made really well to protect them from the rain. It would be a cool experience to go and visit a tribe.

******

  • How do boys and girls play? Well they swim a lot, as there are plenty of rivers, and the girls play with homemade dolls and the boys shoot their bows and arrows and play in the forest. There are certainly no toy shops around here.

bow and arrow

******

  • The tribes literally live off the land to feed themselves. They use a root of a plant called a manioc plant to make bread. But guess what? There are lots of poisons in it, so they have to be really careful to get all of that out first. Imagine eating poisonous bread; that wouldn’t go down well.

******

  • In the rainforests, most of the tribes have never even heard of a car. That is amazing and shows what little contact they have with the outside world. So how do they get around? They walk and use handmade canoes to float along the river.

canoeing

******

  • People living in the jungle wear different clothing than what we do. The men wear loin cloths and the ladies wear wraparound skirts. Cool, they never have to worry about fashion.

******

  • Did you know that the Amazon is named for female warriors in Greek mythology, is as large as 48 states, contains the biggest rainforest in the world and includes a river that spills more water into the Atlantic Ocean that any other waterway in the world? That is some place for sure.

******

  • In the Amazon it rains about every four days in a week…that’s a lot of rain. It can add up to 400 inches (10 meters) a year, depending on the area. That is the same height as a three-story building! Wow.

******

  • At different times of the year the Amazon River can be 300 miles (480 kilometers) wide. That’s more than the distance between New York City and Boston. That is seriously wide.

new york statue of liberty

******

  • The amount of water that flows from the Amazon River into the Atlantic every single day is enough to meet the needs of all the people of New York City—not for a day, not for a month, but for nine years! That is unbelievable.

******

  • Whoa…the Amazon is one seriously long river, and there is not one single bridge that crosses it.

******

  • We spoke about the canopy layer earlier, and this was a very difficult place to get to, so how do scientists study it? Well they use balloon-rafts, construction cranes, ski-lift trams, and pulley systems. But there’s still so much to learn.

Rainforests are awesome places that are not only home to some really cool people and wildlife but they do so much for us! We hope you’ve enjoyed these facts, now you need to go and spread the word about how important they are!

Useful Websites

National Geographic – Rainforests.