Have you ever heard of the squirrel monkey? Or the flying lizard? Chances are, you haven’t! And if you’re wondering why, well it probably has something to do with the fact that you can find these animals in rainforests. The lush and luxurious rainforest is a world like no other. These tall, dense, wet and warm forests are said to be the oldest living ecosystem on Earth. These forests are named ‘rainforests’ because of the high amount of rainfall they receive every year.
But how much does your kid know about this fascinating ecosystem? And is he interested in learning how the rainforest affects the food we eat and the air we breathe? Or is he keen on conservation and you want to tell him more about rainforests? Read our post and get the answers to these questions and more.
Types Of Rainforests:
There are two main types of rainforests, temperate rainforests, and tropical rainforests. Temperate rainforests are found near the coasts of the temperate zones, and tropical rainforests are found close to the equator.
The tropical rainforests remain warm and lush all year round, with the average temperature being anywhere between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures do not change much between day and night. Even the environment is wet in the tropical rainforest, with a humidity of 77% to 87% all day round.
The temperate rainforests are not as extensive as the tropical rainforest, primarily because of the cold weather. The temperate forests also get a lot of rain, but because they are not as warm as the tropical rainforests, they are not many plants. There are around 10 to 20 species of trees found in the temperate rainforests. Most of the trees in the temperate rainforests have broad instead of the needle leaves.
[ Read: Global Warming Facts For Kids ]
Rainforest Facts For Kids:
Do you want to know a bit more about the residence of the three-toed sloth and scarlet macaw? Then here are some more fun rainforest facts for children.
- A four square mile patch of rainforest contains as many as 750 species of trees, 150 species of butterflies, 1500 flowering plants and 400 species of birds.
- The trees of the tropical rainforests are so tightly packed that the rains falling on the canopy can take around 10 minutes to reach the ground.
- Rainforests are found on all the continents of the earth, except Antarctica, because it’s too cold for the environment to be conducive.
- There were over 6 million square miles of rainforest, but because of deforestation, there is less than half of that found in the world. If the rainforests continue to decline in the same, then 5 to 10 species will go extinct in the ten years.
- Around 80% of the flowers found in the rainforests of Australia are not found anywhere else in the world.
- Insects make up the majority of the living creatures found in the tropical rainforest.
- Many tribes in Brazil and central Africa still live in the rainforests, having absolutely no contact with the outside world. These people depend on the rainforest for their daily needs.
- A fascinating fact about the rainforests is that the tropical rainforests supply the high amounts of oxygen that we take in today.
- Rainforest maintains our provision of safe drinking water. 1/5th of the fresh water is found in the tropical rainforest, the Amazon Basin to be exact.
- 70% of the plants found in Amazon Rainforest can help treat cancer. Even the U.S. National Cancer Institute asserts that these plants can be used in the treatment of cancer.
- Due to tremendous rainfall, tropical rainforests have some of the largest rivers in the world like Congo, Amazon, Mekong and Orinoco. These rivers are fed by countless creeks, streams, and tributaries. Amazon River alone has 1100 tributaries, 17 of which are over 1600 kilometers long.
- The Amazon Rainforest is so huge that if it were a country, it would be the ninth-largest country in the world.
- An epiphyte is a type of plant that grows on another plant. These plants are found in the understory layer of the rain forests. These plants start growing on the tree trunks rather than the forest floor, because of the lack of light.
- A single area of rainforest is the size of two football fields, having more than 400 species of trees.
- The migratory birds live in the rainforest during the winter and return to the colored regions during summer and spring.
- The rainforests of Europe have 570 species of butterfly, and the Manu International Park, the only reserve in Peru has 1300 species of butterflies.
- Some rainforests receive more than 100 inches of rainfall nearly every year.
- Some pine trees in Tasmania rainforest can live up to 2000 years.
- A lake inside a rainforest on the Caribbean Island of Dominica sizzles at around 88 degrees Celsius.
[ Read: Stone Age facts For Kids ]
What Creates A Rainforest?
Each of the rainforest found on the surface of the earth is unique, but certain features are commonplace to all. Here are a few common things that make a rainforest:
Almost all the rain forests fall in the tropics.
The rain forests get around 80 inches or 20 cm of rain every year.
Canopy is another characteristic feature of the rainforest. A canopy is a layer of leaves and branches formed due to the closely spaced rain forest trees.
Rain forests have a broad range of biodiversity. Scientists and geologist opine that around half of plants and animals species on the earth’s surface thrive in the rainforests.
5. Symbiotic Relationship:
The species found in the rainforest work together. For instance- some of the plants found in the rainforests make tiny, house-like structures for the ants. These tiny creatures return the favor by ticking away the insects that try to devour the leaves.
Why Do Rainforests Have A Wide Range Of Animals And Plants?
Tropical rainforests all around the world sustain the hugest diversity of living organism. Even though the rainforests cover less than 2% of the earth’s surface, they contain more than 50% of animals and plant species on the land. The reason for such an extensive profusion of plants and animals in the rainforest are:
Rain forests receive loads of sunlight for being located in the tropical region. The sunlight is transformed into energy by the plants during the process of photosynthesis. This process encourages plant growth in the rain forests.
The canopy is another major reason for the abundance of plants and animal species. The canopy gives food and shelter to the animals, enabling interaction between the different species. Bromeliads, a type of plant in the canopy store water in the leaves, which frogs and other animals use for hunting and laying the eggs.
[ Read: Butterfly facts For Kids ]
Importance of Rainforest:
When you fly over the heart of the Amazon, it feels like flying over an ocean of green. But do you know what is more surprising than the size of the rainforest? It’s the role rainforests play in our lives. The importance of rainforest to the global ecosystem and our well-being is paramount. Let’s look at a few importance of rainforest below!
1. Reservoir Of Genetic Diversity:
Rainforests act as a natural reservoir of genetic diversity, offering a rich source of high yielding foods, medicinal plants and a myriad of other useful products.
2. Habitat For Plants And Wildlife:
Rainforests are home to a large number of animals and plant species, including several endangered species. As many as 40 million species of plants and animals live in the tropical forest. Around half of these plant and animal species in the whole world live in the rainforest habitats. These species can survive only in their natural habitat.
3. Climate Stabilizer:
Rainforests are called the lung of the planet because of their role in absorbing huge quantities of carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. The excess amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributes to climate change. Therefore, rainforests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change. But when the rainforests are burned and chopped down, the carbon dioxide stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, contributing to the climate change. Rainforests also affect the local weather by moderating temperature, creating rainfall, and buffering against drought, erosion, and flood.
4. Help Maintain The Water Cycle:
Rainforests add water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration. The moisture from transpiration helps in the formation of rain clouds, which are released back onto the rainforest. Cutting down the forest will prevent the formation of the rain cloud, leading to a drastic decline in rainfall. It can even result in drought in extreme cases. The rainforests of the Amazon and Borneo have experienced severe drought in the recent years.
[ Read: Air Pollution Facts For Kids ]
Distribution Of Rainforest:
Despite the significant role of the tropical rainforests, they are restricted just to a small land area between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer, near the equator. That’s because the majority of Earth’s and is located north of the tropics. In this region, the sun shines at about the same time all year long, keeping the climate warm and stable. The major areas of tropical rainforests are South and Central America, South East Asia and West Africa.
The global distribution of rainforest is broken into four geographical realms based on four continental regions- the Neotropical, The Oriental or Asian, the Ethiopian or Afrotropical and the Australasian or Australian. Over half lies in the Neotropical realm, a quarter in Africa and a fifth in Asia. The remaining 5% are scattered in New Guinea, Australia, and Pacific Islands.
The Amazon rainforest in South America is the largest, unbroken stretch of rainforest in the world. Over half of this forest lies in Brazil. 20% of the remaining rainforest exists between the Congo Basin and Indonesia. The balance of the rainforests is scattered around the tropical regions of the world.
Layers Of Rainforests:
There are four layers of rainforest and here is the rainforest layers facts for kids:
1. Emergent Layer:
Emergent is the top layer of the rainforest. Only the tallest trees can reach to this layer. Butterflies, birds, snakes and small monkeys live in this layer.
2. Canopy Layer:
As mentioned earlier, the canopy is the thick foliage of the. Most of the trees grow to this height. Even some plants reach up to the canopy layer, but their roots do not reach the ground. These plants are called air plants. Sloths, monkeys, lizards, snakes and insects live in the canopy layer.
3. Understory Layer:
The understory is the layer where dense vegetation and vines grow. There isn’t much light in this layer. Frogs, snakes, birds, and butterflies live here.
4. Forest Floor:
The rainforest floor is a humid and dark area comprising of dead plants, leaves. The layer is dark because the trees stop the sunlight from entering the forest. Despite being in the constant darkness, the rainforest floor plays a crucial role in the forest ecosystem. Even decomposition takes place on the forest floor. Decomposition is the process by which organic compounds and microorganisms are broken down. The forest floor is also home to wild animals like Asian elephants, jaguars, giraffes, tigers, and tapirs.
What Do We Get From Rainforests?
We get plenty of things from the rainforest, which include:
- Chocolate, as we all know, is made from cocoa. The cocoa pods grow on trees in the rainforests.
- Spices including allspice, ginger, coconut, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, vanilla and clove
Why Are Rainforest Being Destroyed?
Every year, a part of the rainforest as large as New Jersey is being destroyed. The animals residing in this area either die or migrate to a new forest. But don’t you wonder why the rainforests are being destroyed? What are the main causes? Human beings are the chief reason for rainforest destruction. People are chopping trees for:
- Pulp for making paper
- Road construction
- Extraction of energy and minerals
What Can We Do To Help The Rainforests?
One way you can help rainforests is by educating people more and more about plants, animals, and the issues surrounding the deforestation of the rainforests. And most importantly, practice conservation at home.
We hope you find our article helpful. Do you have any fun and interesting rainforest facts for kids to add to the list? Then leave it in the comment section below!