Significance of Rainforests

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Rainforests are tall, evergreen and dense, rich in biodiversity forests with lofty broad leaves mainly found between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn with consistent heavy rainfall. They serve as the earths ecological system. These forests account for almost more than a half of the plants and animals found on earth despite occupying only 6% of the earth thus can be called a dense jungle (Corlett, 1988). The average rainfall in these forests is 1000mm per year.

The rainforests are mainly found in Asia, Africa, Australia, Central America and South America with the largest of all being the Amazon rainforest in South America. There are several varieties of rainforests for example montane rainforests which are always found in the mountainous regions with the tropical belt, lowland rainforests which are found up to 1000 meters within the tropical belt and contain the most tallest trees, mangrove forests mostly found in the coastal regions and finally the temperate rainforests which are found in various attitudes outside the tropics.

Rainforests boost of their diversity in living organisms on earth ('Diversity and the tropical rain forest', 1992). They have abundance of plants and animals due to its climatic condition and canopy structure thus every year scientists do discover new varieties of mammals, frogs, reptiles and birds in these forests. Thus while these forests seem of less concern, they play critical roles in our well-being.

Rainforests help in maintaining the water cycle due to their ability to store water like a huge sponge. These forests draw water from the ground and they release it back to the atmosphere in form moisture which in turn forms the clouds. Thus they help in recycling of water because many rivers have their sources in these forests and the rivers help in feeding lakes (Jones & Barnett, 1971). Since water is an important factor in human survival as it is used in irrigation schemes and many other areas, it helps to keep away drought, famine and diseases which are huge threats to the extinction of mankind.

Rainforests also regulate the climate by taking in the carbon dioxide and absorbing it for photosynthesis, an energy creating process which in return produces oxygen which is released back to the air and is essential for our survival. Animals exhale a lot of carbon dioxide which may cause global warming and without rainforests then the greenhouse effect would be more pronounced whose effects are severe and the climate may get worse. Although there is still a huge threat of global warning due to deforestation that is taking place thus there is every need for the world to take an initiative to conserve the forests in order to save human kind.

Rainforests help in maintaining the temperature in a certain range that is essential for the survival of earths creatures (Lawrence, 2002). Every creature evolves due to changes in the environment thus changing temperature would have an adverse effect on the ecosystems. According to Lawrence (2002), it is a possibility with the current rate that that forestation is taking place. It is known that plants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen and the balance of these two gases is what maintains the temperature. Most of the carbon comes from burning fossil fuels and burning and rotting of trees. Thus with the rate of deforestation, there might be extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the near future which could pose a huge threat to animals and plants since it may alter the global climatic norms like melting the polar icecaps and changing ocean currents.

Rainforests provide a home for animals and plants. They are believed to be land based ecosystems which are a habitat for over 30 million species of animals and plants. Due to their warm and steamy environments, many varieties of plants exist in these forests (Searle & Kennedy, 1972). These kind of diversity in species are required if we are to have a healthy ecosystem. One hectare of these forests contain up to 1000 trees of different species. Thus these plants are able to provide shelter and food for the survival of those animals that entirely depend on the rainforests. If part of these forests is cleared then it may cause the rest of the forest to be non-sustainable thus complex ecosystem like this in the long run may cause natural disasters such as diseases and drought. There are so many animals and plants in these forests which are yet to be discovered.

Additionally the diversity of the plant species provides a huge range of uses such as controlling diseases and manufacturing due to their known natural chemical content. More than 25% of the medicines we use now days come from these tropical rainforests (Goldsmith and Warren 162) for example, seventy percent of the plants that are used to treat cancer come from these forests, quinine which is used to cure malaria is extracted from the bark of the Andean cinchona tree, rosy periwinkle which is mostly found in Madagascar is used to cure leukemia, the rauvolfa shrub which is used to cure mental illness and high blood pressure and mostly found in Africa and Asia forests among many other trees that can cure diseases (Working group of Meteorological Imp, 1992). Therefore if these forests and its inhabitants are able to be to be natured then we could get a variety of cures to different diseases.

Rainforests are a source of many foods that human beings use today. These foods for example are bananas, rice, coffee, nuts and many food spices that we use to add flavor to our foods. These foods are of importance to the survival of human race thus many more of the foods may be discovered from these forests in the near future if there are taken good care of. The forests were not only the source of these foods but also the origin of rubber, resin and fibers which are raw materials for many industries.

Many rainforests are a habitat for indigenous people for example pygmies in Africa forests who are of small size which enables them to move around the forest more efficiently than the tall people, kaiapo Indians in the Brazilian amazon, Amerindians, kaiapo shaman in the amazon, the Dani community among many others. These communities rely on the rainforests for their food, shelter and medicines. At the moment many of these communities no longer live in their traditional ways due to many factors that may have forced them to look for settlements elsewhere. The factors may include the discovery of gold, diamond and many other valuable products, clearing of the forests in order to venture in agriculture among others. Also oil and logging companies which invade the forests do bring diseases to the indigenous people and these people are not resistant to these diseases leaving them to resettle in other places. The amazon supports the largest of the remaining forest people although they have also been impacted by the modern world. Although the Amerindians still depend on the forests for gathering and hunting, they do grow crops like rice and use western commodities like pans. They also move to the nearby cities to buy food and clothes for their families (Searle & Kennedy, 1972). Despite them being modernized, they still have unmatched knowledge of the medicinal plants used for treating diseases which they can still teach us.

Rainforests still assist in preventing soil erosion. The roots of the trees bind the soil together and the canopy structure of these rainforests protects the soil from heavy rain drops. When the trunks and leaves of the trees fall down to the floor, they decay and nutrient content in them is recycled. All these help in preventing soil erosion. But if these trees are removed then the nutrients are removed with them and also the canopy is destroyed (Searle & Kennedy, 1972). This exposes the soil to heavy rains which can wash away the soil and causing blockages and flooding in lowland rivers while the highland remains dry.

Forests are also places for recreation and inspiration where humans find peace, joy and rejuvenation in experiencing nature. Nature is a source of creativeness for some people.

Considering all the above advantages of rainforests, there is every need for humans to conserve these forests so that to curb the natural disasters such as drought and global warming. Strategies should be laid to curb mining, deforestation for agriculture and charcoal burning in order to save human race.

References

Corlett, R. (1988). Bukit Timah: the History and Significance of a Small Rain-forest Reserve. Envir. Conserv., 15(01), 37. doi:10.1017/s0376892900028435

Dai, A. (2008). Temperature and pressure dependence of the rain-snow phase transition over land and ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35(12), n/a-n/a. doi:10.1029/2008gl033295

Diversity and the tropical rain forest. (1992). Environment International, 18(5), 531. doi:10.1016/0160-4120(92)90277-b

Jones, J., & Barnett, B. (1971). Body Temperature of Turkey Poults Exposed to Simulated Chilling Rain. Poultry Science, 50(3), 972-974. doi:10.3382/ps.0500972

Lawrence, E. (2002). Changes of phase in sunspotarain and sunspotatemperature patterns. Weather, 57(7), 261-264. doi:10.1256/004316502760195966

Searle, P., & Kennedy, G. (1972). The determination of calcium in rain waters by using high-temperature flame-emission spectroscopy. The Analyst, 97(1155), 457. doi:10.1039/an9729700457

Working group of Meteorological Imp,. (1992). Symposium on problems of relationship between crop and rain environment. Journal Of Agricultural Meteorology, 47(4), 251-253. doi:10.2480/agrmet.47.251

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