Rainforests are among the most important ecosystems on the planet. Yet today, more than half of earth's original rainforests have all been destroyed as a result of unsustainable agriculture, ranching, logging, mining and other destructive practices.

As a world community, we must be careful not to destroy the resources that people will need in the future
  • They provide a habitat for plants and animals
  • They regulate our climate
  • They help to prevent soil erosion
  • They provide a home for indigenous people
  • They are a source of medicines
  • Other important forest products
    They provide a habitat for plants and animals
    • Tropical rainforests contain over 30 million species of plants and animals.
    • The variety of plants in turn provides food and shelter for many rare animals that depend on the rainforest for their survival.

    They regulate our climate
    • Rainforest trees play an important part in the water cycle, taking in water from the forest floor and releasing it back into the atmosphere in the form of water vapour.
    • Without rainforests the rivers, lakes and other irrigation systems would dry up and droughts would prevail, leading to widespread famine and disease.
    • We depend on trees to cleanse our atmosphere. They absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale, and provide the oxygen we need to breathe.

    They help to prevent soil erosion
    • Tree roots bind the soil together, while the canopy protects the soil from heavy rains.
    • When a tree dies and its trunk falls to the forest floor, it decays and the nutrients it contains are recycled.

    They provide a home for indigenous people
    • Many indigenous people have been living in harmony with the rainforest for thousands of years, depending on it for their food, shelter and medicines.
    • They are a source of medicines
    • More than 25% of our modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants.
    • Rainforests hold the cure to many more diseases and the native populations who discovered these medicines hold the key to their secret. It would benefit us greatly if we would nurture the forests and allow their people to show us ancient cures for the newest illnesses!

    Other important forest products
    • Many foods we consume today such as nuts, bananas, coffee and spices, and industrial products such as rubber, resins and fibers, were originally found in tropical rainforests.
  • Cattle ranching
  • Logging
  • Mining
  • Oil Rigging and Drilling
  • Building Dams
    Cattle ranching
    • Many rainforests in Central and South America have been burnt down to make way for cattle farming, which supplies cheap beef.
    • It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 square feet of rainforest is destroyed.

    • Timber companies cut down huge trees such as mahogany and teak and sell them to other countries to make furniture. Smaller trees are often used for the production of charcoal.
    • The roads that are created in order to cut and remove the timber often lead to further damage.

    • Rainforests have to be removed in order to extract minerals and metals.

    Oil Rigging and Drilling
    • Rainforests are seriously affected by oil companies searching for new oil deposits.
    • This encourages settlers to move into hitherto pristine forests and start slash-and-burn farming or cutting more timber for sale or the production of charcoal.
    • Once established, the oil pipelines which transport the oil often rupture, spouting gallons of oil into the surrounding forest, killing wildlife and contaminating the water supplies of local villages.

    Building Dams
    • Building of dams can involve flooding vast areas of rainforest.
    • The dams can also become blocked with soil washed down from deforested highlands in heavy rains. This can cause great problems, such as flooding. 
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