Welcome to Hope For
The Rain Forests
A Science-Based Resource
Website About Rainforests
are one of the most important ecosystems in the world,
and their importance to the well being of our planet is
an established scientific fact. Extraordinary in terms
of their biological diversity, tropical rainforests are
a major resource for medicinal plants and thousands of
forest products. They are home to countless species and
many unique indigenous cultures, and play a key role in
the global ecosystem in regulating weather and producing
significant amounts of the world's oxygen.
OF RAINFORESTS: Tropical rainforests, clustered around the
earth in a band on either side of the equator, cover 1,500,000 square
miles, about 2% of the world's total land mass. Almost 60% are located
in the Amazonian regions of Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Africa and
Venezuela. Other regions of the world with significant tracts of
tropical rain forests are Papau-New Guinea, Burma and Indonesia.
Outside of the tropics,
temperate rainforests are found in British Columbia, Oregon, Washington,
Alaska, California's northern coast, the Caucasus region of Georgia,
Norway, Scotland, parts of the Balkans, Japan, Tasmania, Chile, New
Zealand and Australia.
BIODIVERSITY: Rainforests contain an incredible
variety of different flora and fauna, with the total number of species
numbering over 10 million. Rainforests are home to two-thirds of all the
living animal and plant species on the planet and it has been estimated
that many hundreds of millions of new species of plants, insects and
microorganisms are still undiscovered. Tropical forests are regions of the highest
biodiversity found anywhere on earth, far more than any other
region. The whole of the North American continent, for example, is
home to approximately 17,000 plants species while a much smaller
area, the Amazonian Basin, has over 50,000.
IMPORTANCE: The rain forests of the world are
supremely important to the world ecosystem as climatic and environmental
stabilizers. The trees of the rain forests bind up over 200 billion tons
of carbon in their bodies, carbon that otherwise might be in the form of
carbon dioxide and contribute to the growing greenhouse effect.
Without healthy rain forests, the global warming problem we are now
experiencing will seem minor in comparison.
Rainforests also are the
source for a large number of products that are of importance to man,
including timber, nuts, fruits, oils, and spices and 25% of all
prescription pharmaceuticals are derived from plants found there. The
medicinal potential and promise of rain forests has barely been touched,
and only one in ten tropical rain forest plants have even been studied
for medicinal uses.
While developing new drugs to treat
disease can improve the
wellness of people around the world, it is important
to remember that protecting the rainforest is a priority
too. This may not be the first thing on the mind of a
dentist South Jersey who has patients in need of
care, but doctors and dentists should consider what the
ramifications of rainforest destruction mean for the