In southeast Alaska there is the Tongass National Forest. Believe it or not this is a rainforest!
It doesn't look like a tropical rainforest, but it does look like a temperate rainforest. Cooler temperatures slow down the establishment and regeneration of vegetation, but our rainforest actually has a greater biomass than tropical rainforests.
Rainforests are the wettest area of land in the world. As much as 32 feet of rain may fall during a single year in some places.
Almost half of the world's rainforests have been cut down in the last fifty years and the clearance continues! In 1989 rainforests were DISAPPEARING at a rate of 60 acres every minute.
Rainforest trees have shallow root systems so they often produce special buttress roots to help keep themselves standing upright.
Most rainforest leaves are thick and waxy with special drip-tips to drain away water. They are often so big they can be used as umbrellas.
The Pygmy people of the African rainforest are very small. The tallest of them are only four feet-eight inches tall.
Life is not easy in the rainforest. A person in the modern world may live for over 70 years.
In the rainforests, few people survive more than 40 years. Diseases like the flu and measles, are still big killers of native tribes.
As food crops, we use only 7,000 of about 75,000 known edible plants.
500.000 trees are cut every hour in tropical rainforests.
We lose 20,000 to 100,000 species a year.
We may lose 20 percent of all species on the planet within the next 30 years!!
An area the size of a football field is being destroyed every second.
We owe the discovery of many food crops from the tropical rainforests:
Lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, mangoes, avocadoes, guavas, papayas, passion fruits, bananas, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, palm oil, rubber, annatto (red food coloring), cashews, brazil nuts, hearts of palm, essential oils, coffee beans and can you ever imagine living without...CHOCOLATE?!
Trees and plants help to keep the air around us clean. They use sunlight, water, and air to make food. In the food-making process they make use of the part of the air that we breathe out (carbon dioxide) and produce the part that we breathe in (oxygen).
When rainforests are burnt to the ground to clear land, the trees stop using up carbon dioxide. Instead, the forest fires produce carbon dioxide which pollutes the atmosphere!