Updated: May 9
What is a rainforest, exactly? What's the difference between a jungle and a rainforest?
A jungle is a thickly overgrown area with trees and tangled vegetation, usually in a warm climate with a lot of rain. Their floors are densely covered with vines, shrubs, and swarms of insects, making passage extremely difficult. The phrase "jungle," on the other hand, is a descriptive term rather than a scientific one, and it does not refer to a specific environment.
"Rainforest," on the other hand, does. A rainforest, like a jungle, is densely forested, but unlike a jungle, it has a canopy of tall trees that screens out the majority of sunlight. This canopy blocks light from reaching the earth, preventing plants on the forest floor from growing. So, although jungles have a lot going on below your feet, rainforests don't—the majority of the action takes place in the trees above you. The photo below is one I took of the Tallest Tree in NSW, The Grandis here in Australia. One of the most stunning rainforests I've seen.
Rainforests are the world's longest-living ecosystems, with some areas enduring for 70 million years in their current state. Except for Antarctica, every continent has tropical and/or temperate rainforests. Tropical rainforests are hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 70°F to 80°F year-round, an average humidity of 77 percent to 88 percent, and 80 to 400 inches of rain per year. They are located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Temperate rainforests, on the other hand, are mainly located in coastal and mountainous settings, and they receive their rain when moist, hot air from the shore is trapped by the neighbouring mountains. Temperate rainforests have temperatures ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and receive 60 to 200 inches of rain per year. These can be found in the Pacific Northwest, Chile, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, and southern Australia, among other places.
These statements, however, fall short of conveying how critical these locations are to the planet's health. So, here are some facts to remember, as well as some background for today's events:
Rainforests span only 6% of the Earth's surface, but they are home to more than half of all plant and animal species. A 4-square-mile stretch can have up to 1,500 flowering plants, 750 tree species, 400 bird species, and 150 butterfly species. Around 40,000 plant species, approximately 1,300 bird species, 3,000 fish species, 427 mammalian species, and 2.5 million bug species live in the Amazon jungle.
Every two days, a new plant or animal species is reportedly discovered in the rainforest.
Because the rainforest floor is so moist and humid, things decay extremely quickly; a leaf that would take a year to decompose in another climate will decompose in only 6 weeks.
It is claimed that Rainforests create 20% of the oxygen on the planet and store a significant amount of carbon dioxide. But do they really?
The size of the world's rainforests has shrunk by half since 1947. For agricultural or industrial expansion, around 100 acres are cleared each minute.
Rainforests are densely packed with foliage, thus a drop of rain falling from the top layer of the forest can take up to ten minutes to reach the forest floor.
Although lions are known as "kings of the jungle," they dwell in savannahs and grasslands rather than jungles.
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