rain forests are found only in a relatively small area on earth, between the latitudes 22.5 degrees North (Tropic of
Capricorn) and 22.5 degrees South of the equator (Tropic of Cancer).
Originally covering much vaster areas, rain forests in the world, though
man's activities, have been reduced only about 2% of the earth's
surface, (about 2.41 millions square miles or 625 million hectares).
They are found in 85
countries in the world but the
largest continuous rain forest is found in the Amazon river basin in
South America, much of which lies in Brazil. The second largest
contiguous rain forest is that found in the Congo Basin in Africa. Ninety percent of the
tropical rain forests i the world are concentrated in fifteen countries. There are five major
forest regions in the world: Central America, the Amazon Basin, Africa,
Southern Asia and Australia.
This region was once entirely covered with rainforest, but large areas
have been cleared for cattle ranching and for sugar cane plantations.
Extensive rain forest tracts are found in
65% of the frontier forest (large tracts of relatively undisturbed, old
growth forest) remain. This is the highest percentage among Central
American countries, and while only 800 acres of Belize's forests are
protected, it is 12.7% of the country's total land base, the second
highest in Central America.
Rica, another Central American country with
extensive tropical rain forests, has made great efforts to conserve its
natural environment and over 12% of the country's total land mass is
protected. It also has one of the largest national park systems in
Central America. However, even with these efforts, many of Costa Rica's
rain forest plant and animal species are still threatened.
on the other hand, with one of the most dense populations in Central
American (6,000,00+ in only 8,009 square miles) has experienced
deforestation on a catastrophic scale, and its rainforests, once
abundant, have all but disappeared.
has also lost extensive rain forests, with over 98% of its original
undisturbed old growth forest disappeared. It is home some of the most
threatened tropical rain forests in the world. The cutting of forests
for firewood, agriculture and timber sales, exacerbated by the extreme
poverty among the rural population, have been the driving forces for
this forest loss.
is also home to some of the most threatened forests in Central America.
Both temperate and tropical rain forests have been cleared to support
urban development and huge banana plantations, operated by United States
corporations. Only a very small percentage of the country's land is
protected, just under 5%.
with both extensive temperate and tropical rain forests, is one of
the most biologically diverse of the world's countries.
Nicaragua has some of the largest remaining rainforests in
Central America, but unfortunately, this country too is experiencing
rapid deforestation. The Indio-Maiz Biosphere and the Bosawas Biosphere
Reserves in southeastern and northeastern Nicaragua are large protected
tracts of intact rain forests.
with over 30% of its original old growth forests still intact has the
second largest percentage of such forests of any Central American
country. It does have the largest protected percentage (17%) but
in spite of this, many species of plants and animals are still
America is home to the world's
largest contiguous tropical rainforest, the vast Amazon rainforest. This
lush and biologically rich forest covers the basin of the Amazon (also
known as Amazonia),
the world's second longest river and spreads into
nine countries: Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela,
Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana. The Amazon basin encompasses
7,000,000 square kilometers (1.2 billion acres), while the forest
itself, home to the greatest variety of
plants and animals on Earth. It occupies some 5,500,000 square kilometers.
The landscape contains one in ten known species on Earth,1.4 billion
acres of dense forests, half of the planet's remaining tropical
forests,4,100 miles of winding rivers and 2.6 million square miles in
the Amazon basin, about 40 percent of South America
30 million people from including 350 indigenous and
ethnic groups, live in the Amazon and depend on nature
for agriculture, clothing and traditional medicines.
Most live in large urban centers, but all residents rely
on the Amazon’s natural bounty for food, shelter and
This vast forest home, which represents
over half of the world's remaining rainforests, is under attack from
many fronts and the world is in danger of losing this precious resource.
Deforestation, serving the interests of both primitive slash and burn
and modern agriculture (especially soy production), logging and exotic
timber harvest and cattle raising, is the major threat. The construction
of the Transamazonian highway not only destroyed millions of acres but
has opened the region up to constant and relentless pressure from the
outside world. At the current rate of forest loss, it is entirely
possible that the Amazon rain forest will cease to exist within the next
Amazon Conservation Team
The Pachamama Alliance
home to the Congo Basin, holds the world's second
largest contiguous rainforest. This vast forest runs through six African
countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo and Zaire)
stretching from the Mountains of the Moon in the eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo to the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Second only to the
Amazon Basin in size, the Congo Basin covers more than 1,000,000 square
miles. Logging and agricultural clearing are the two major threats
to this biologically diverse and rich region and deforestation is
happening at an alarming rate. Since the 1980's, this region the one of
the highest loss of forest rates in the world, if not the highest. Other
threats include the bushmeat and wildlife
trades, Ebola, poaching, climate change and population growth.
The island of Madagascar off
the coast of Africa also has tropical rainforests, and home to over 50
species of indigenous Lemurs, one of the world's most exotic mammals.
75% of the original old growth forest however, is gone and here, as in
other parts of Africa, the remaining rainforests are under attack from
Mongabay Congo Rainforest
tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia are among the most biologically
rich in the world. Here again, deforestation of the rain forests
in Southern Asia is a serious environmental problem, with over 85% of
original rain forests already gone and more being destroyed daily.
The rainforests of Asia stretch from India and Burma in the west to
Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. Asian
countries that are home to train forests are Bangladesh (which has the
largest area of mangrove forests in the world), Burma, Cambodia, India,
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and
Southern Asian Rainforests
modern Australia, the remaining tropical rainforest survive in a narrow
band from the Kimberlyes region to Cape York Peninsula and down to
Tasmania. This region also contains temperate and other forest types as
well. Undergrowth in Australia's tropical
forests is dense and lush since the forests lie in the path of wet winds
blowing in from the Pacific.
rainforest regions in Australia are in Queensland,
Tasmania, New South Wales, the Northern Territory,
Victoria and Western Australia. The area near north-eastern
Queensland is known as the "Wet Tropics", with the city of Cairns at its
center, is where Australia's highest rainfall occurs, and where the
continent's main tropical rainforest is found.
There are five climatic types of
rainforest in Queensland. In north Queensland, the World
Heritage-listed Wet Tropics includes Kuranda Rainforest
and the Daintree - the oldest tropical rainforest on
earth. Accessible from Cairns, Port Douglas, Cape
Tribulation and Cooktown, the Daintree is home to an
incredible array of plants and animals. In the
Gold Coast hinterland, Lamington and Springbrook
National Parks have sub-tropical and cool temperate
rainforests dating back to the supercontinent of
Tasmania is home to Australia’s
largest swathes of cool temperate rainforest, most of it
protected as part of the island’s World Heritage-listed
Wilderness. These cool, dark and magical places support
a rich array of life, including species found nowhere
else on earth. These include the ancient forests of King
Billy Pine in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National
Park, the moss-covered Gondwanan on the Creepy Crawly
Nature Trail in Southwest National Park and rare Huon
pines on the Franklin River Nature Trail in Wild Rivers
New South Wales
The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia
spill across 50 separate parks in northern New South
Wales and south-east Queensland. Accessible from Byron
Bay, this vast World Heritage-listed area embraces the
world’s largest subtropical rainforest, along with warm
and cool temperate rainforest types. Included in this
region are Nightcap, Mount Warning or Border Ranges
National Parks, which all flank the ancient, eroded
volcano of Mount Warning Wollumbin. There are also
rainforest pockets in the World Heritage-listed Blue
Mountains near Sydney, in Budderoo National Park in the
Southern Highlands and Myall Lakes National Park, north
of Port Stephens.
The south of World Heritage-listed
Kakadu National Park is dotted with monsoon rainforest,
home to the spectacular Jim Jim Falls, which drops more
than 250 metres to deep, cool plunge pools. Other
rainforest habitats include Gubarra Pools and Gu-ngarre
Walk through savannah woodlands. Kakadu is famous for
its lily-dotted wetlands, rich wildlife and treasure
trove of Aboriginal rock art.
Victoria’s cool temperate rainforest
survives in small patches across Gippsland and the
Dandenong, Yarra and Otway Ranges. In Gippsland, there
is the Tarra Bulga National Park and Morwell National
Park and the famous Errinundra Saddle. Other noteworthy
habitats include the towering mountain ash trees in
Yarra Ranges National Park, an hour’s drive from
Melbourne and the lush, green world of Great Otway
National Park located along the Great Ocean Road.
The Kimberley region in Western
Australia, with its outback landscapes, has more than a
thousand spots of dry rainforest. Scattered across
sheltered valleys and high-rainfall coastal areas, these
pockets support some 300 species of plants, most of
which are found nowhere else. They also provide refuge
to declining wildlife species, including some birds and
snakes and the endangered Scaly-tailed Possum. The
Mitchell River national Park has patches of rainforest
dotted throughout which hold unique plant life compared
to the surrounding savannah.
Rainforests in Australia
of the tropics, rain forests can be found in British Columbia,
southeastern Alaska, western Oregon and Washington, the northern coast
of California, Scotland and Norway, the western Caucasus (Ajaria
region of Georgia), parts of the western Balkans, Japan, southern Chile,
New Zealand, Tasmania, and parts of eastern Australia.
rainforests are coniferous or broadleaf forests that occur in the
mid-latitudes in areas of high rainfall and are distinguished from other
forests by higher rainfall (minimum is usually 2.000 mm/year), relative
proximity to the ocean which supply moisture laden winds and
coastal mountains. These mountains typically increase rainfall on the
ocean facing slopes and it is here that the temperate rain forests most
Temperate coniferous rain
forest have the highest levels of biomass in any terrestrial ecosystem
and many are distinguished by trees of epic proportions, including the
famous Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga
menziesii). As with their tropical cousins,
temperate rain forests throughout the world are also under assault,
primarily from logging, and many are endangered.
Temperate Rain Forests