What is a Rainforest?
Since we are learning about rainforests we decided our first job was to find out exactly what one was. Here are some facts we learnt…
The hot and humid conditions make rainforests a perfect habitat for many of the worlds plants, animals and insects.
Rainforests are very dense, hot and humid forests and are home to millions of the earth’s plants and animals. More species are found in rainforests than any other habitat in the world.
The word rainforest was first used at the end of the 19th Century to describe forests that grow in constantly wet conditions. Today, scientists define rain forests as forests that receive more than 2,000 mm of rain evenly spread throughout the year.
Raining in the Forest
A rainforest is often referred to as a jungle, which is a Hindi word from India meaning a wilderness. A true jungle is a thick tangle of vegetation, through which people have to force and cut their way. Rainforests are diverse, some parts contain patches of jungle and other parts are more open.
There are actually two types of rainforest. Tropical and Temperate. When most people refer to rainforests they are talking about tropical rainforests.
Tropical rainforests are only found in the tropics - an area found around the equator betweeen the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer.
Tropical rainforests are found around the Equator. There is very little variation between the seasons. Can you think of a reason why? They have an even distribution of rainfall annually and are warm and hot all year round.
Temperate rainforests are found further away from the tropics. They often have a wet season and a dry season.
Temperate rainforests are found further away from the equator. They have two seasons: a wet season and a dry season. The temperature varies much more than a tropical rainforest.
More Rainforest Facts!
• The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, It covers an area of about 3 million square miles – that’s about 60 times bigger than the whole of England!
• Although they cover less than 2 percent of the Earth’s total surface area, the world’s rainforests are estimated to be home to half of the Earth’s plants and animals.
• Rainforests are the “lungs of our planet”. It is estimated that more than 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.
• Because there is so much sunlight, heat and water – trees have the resources to grow to tremendous heights, and they live for hundreds, even thousands, of years.