Rainforests are rightly called the “womb of life”, as they are the natural habitat of about 50 to 90 percent of species present on Earth. No doubt, the beauty, majesty and timelessness of a rainforest are impossible to capture on a film, but the rapid devastation is a high sign of alert for the entire humankind. Considered to be a peaceful place flourishing with lots of green trees and vines, people do not realize that rainforests are more than just a dwelling for animals and trees. Not only are they sources of medicine, food and fresh air, rainforests are the major link in the continuation of various life cycles persisting there. Therefore, tropical rainforests are highly significant to us. Read on further to know the importance of rainforests.
Why Are Rainforests Important
Habitat For Plants & Animals
Believed to be the oldest and most complex land-based ecosystem on earth, rainforests cover a mere 12% of the land, but are home to 50-90% of the world’s species. This means that 50% of Earth’s wildlife and two-thirds of plant species find their homes in rainforests. Nonetheless, at least one species is getting extinct every day, due to tropical deforestation. The rate has been increasing drastically in the recent years.
Rainforests absorb and store water like huge sponges. The water is drawn from the forest floor and released into the atmosphere in the form of swirling mists and clouds, thereby returning to the ground as rain. However, with the destruction of the rainforests, the water cycle gets disrupted leading to rising temperatures, droughts and spreading of famine and diseases. Referred to as “the lungs of the Earth”, tropical forests absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale and provide us with fresh and clean oxygen required by us. On the contrary, the increasing devastation of the trees largely pollutes the atmosphere, making it unsafe for us to breathe and contributing to global warming.
Rainforests have been a life saver for the humankind for thousand years now by providing food, shelter and medicines. They are a source of various crops, such as rice, rubber, coffee, bananas, tea, cashews, tapioca, peanut, pineapples, guavas, and many more, demanded by a man every single day for his survival. In the absence of rainforests, these numerous opportunities would be lost, thereby posing a threat to the living.
Surprisingly, more than 25% of our modern medicines are a result from numerous tropical forest plants. However, only 1% of these plants have been tested for pharmaceutical properties. Some of the most common and popular plant-derived pharmaceuticals sold worldwide include Digitoxin, Vincristine, Physostigmine, Atropine, Morphine, Reserpine, D-Tubocurarine and Quinine. Most of the medicines were first discovered and used by indigenous people. Furthermore, these rainforests can be used to discover cures to many more diseases only if we care for the forests and allow the native people discover them.
Prevention Of Soil Erosion
The soil in the tropical rainforests is comparatively very poor, since the nutrients are mostly stored in the trees and plants, rather than soil. The trees are connected with the soil through the roots. The canopy prevents the soil from heavy rains. Eventually, when a tree dies, the nutrients are recycled as the tree trunk is intact with the tree. However, when the trees are chopped and removed from the forests, the nutrients too are removed leaving the soil unprotected. As a result, the rains wash away the soil causing water logging and floods in lowland rivers.