Our precious rainforests


Any country in the tropical world which still has its rainforests, should guard them like a national treasure. Rainforests are more precious than gold.

A long time ago, when the world was new, tropical rainforests stretched like a broad green belt around its middle. Tropical rainforests grow between the Tropic of Cancer, which is north of the Equator, and the Tropic of Capricorn, to the south. The climate here is very hot and rainy. Now, just about half of the earth’s rainforest is left. To most people this is very bad news.

What is a rainforest? A rainforest is a living miracle. More than half of all the plants and animals that live on earth, live in rainforests. Trees grow to more than 60 metres, or about 200 feet high. The tops of these trees form a closely knit canopy, like thousands of huge open umbrellas standing tall, side by side. Think of them in hundreds of colours too, because in one hectare of forest, there can be as many as one hundred species of trees. With the sun’s energy and the rain, all growth in the forest is rapid.


Under the shelter of this leafy canopy, it is as dark as night. Clinging, climbing, twisting through the trees live millions of other species of plants, orchids, bromeliads and lianas, rare, strange and beautiful. On the forest floor, grow soft and delicate ferns, lichens and life saving, medicinal plants.

Among the tangled vegetation of the forests, live the most unusual animal life on planet earth. Large spiders, more species of butterflies and birds than you would find anywhere else on earth, the largest parrots, the largest rodents, the largest ants, the longest snakes, tiny insects, huge bats and monkeys, all inhabit this strange paradise.

Rainforests are important to the whole world. Sometimes rainforests are called the lungs of the world. This is because forests produce oxygen, which we need for life. Forests shelter animals and provide homes to some people. Forests provide water, food and medicines.

Just as everything in a rainforest has its place and its function, so does the rainforest have its place and its function on planet earth. If destruction of rainforests continues, planet earth will never be the same.

Some easy questions to answer

What is meant by ‘when the world was new’?

Where would you find rainforests growing?

How much of the world’s rainforests are left?

What is it like under the canopy of a rainforest?

Rainforests are important to the whole world. True or false?

What do you use lungs for?


"Our precious rainforests"

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