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Rainforest Territory of the World

By: C.M.Shorter
White Bird of Paradise - Strelitzia nicolai
White Bird of Paradise 
Strelitzia nicolai
Native to So. Africa, leaves resemble a Banana Plant.  White Flowers with a “Blue Tongue”.

Major Rainforests of the World are the Olympic Rainforest (temperate), the Rainforests of Central America, the Amazon Rainforest (the largest Rainforest), the Congo River Basin Rainforest, the Rainforest of Madagascar (native home to the many species of Lemurs we see on Tigerhomes Sanctuary’s webcams), and the Rainforests of Southeast Asia including India, South China, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.  Rainforest terrain is one of the last places on earth where Tigers can still be found roaming in the wild.  The Amur Tiger can be still be found in isolated pockets in the Siberian Tundra.   Smaller fragments of Rainforest exist in Hawaii, Mexico and many of the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean.  A single 4 mile patch of Rainforest terrain can host as many as 1,500 species of Epiphites, flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 125 mammal species, 400 species of birds, 100 species of reptiles, 60 species of amphibians and more than 100 different species of Butterflies.

There are two kinds of forests: tropical and temperate.   Temperate forests have less land than tropical forests. Temperate forest zones run along the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada, into Chile in South America and are also found in New Zealand, Tasmania, Norway, Ireland, and Scotland.  Tropical Rainforests are wet and warm all year round. Tropical rain forests are located near the equator and the Tropic of Cancer.  Habitat for species found only in Dry Tropical forests, like the Crown of Thorns is also being destroyed at alarming rates destroying many of the world’s most ancient species of flora and fauna.  The  Rainforests of India is one of the last remaining places on earth where you can still the Bengal Tiger roaming free in the wild.  The unique island Rainforest of Madagascar, home to the Sanctuary’s Lemurs has sadly has lost over 90% of its forest terrain due to “slash & burn” techniques used for farming, particularly for palm oil plantations.   The Rainforest of the Congo Basin holds untold riches in plant and animal life.  Smaller Rainforests are found throughout the islands of Southern Asia, in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Costa Rica, Hawaii, the Western Ghats, and in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains.

 

Amazon Clear-Cutting
(Cryptic Deforestation)

Amazon Clear-Cutting (Cryptic Deforestation) - NASA’s Earth Observatory Aerial Photo
NASA’s Earth Observatory Aerial Photo

More fish species live in the Amazon River system that in the entire Atlantic Ocean.  Over a third of our planet’s species of birds live in the Amazon Rainforest and more than half of the world’s species of flora and fauna are found in the Andean Mountain Range and the Amazon Jungle.  Rainforests once cover over 4 billion acres, with more than half now gone and scientists estimate that 9,000 species go extinct each year, most of the them from the Rainforest. 

In plant and animal biodiversity the Amazon Rainforest is unmatched.  For instance, the tropical Rainforest of Central and South America is home to some 7,500 species of butterflies compared to only 65 species in Great Britain.  Recent studies published by the Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA’s Earth Observatory showed that “Selective-Logging” of the Rainforest’s hardwood trees, particularly the highly demanded Mahogany Tree, whereby only one or two trees are removed from an area still caused significant degrade to the forest canopy. Studies were made possible and showed degradation resulting from this method as large as the State of Connecticut.  New technology to further these studies is made possible by an ultra high resolution satellite imaging technique developed by scientists working with Carnegie Institution and Stanford University.   remote sensing technology delivered by Carnegie Landsat Analysis System (CLAS), which processes data from three NASA satellites: Landsat 7, Terra and Earth Observing 1 which clearly shows Cryptic Deforestation.

These new satellite surveys of the Amazon Basin shows the selective-logging method to be almost as detrimental to the sensitive ecosystem of the Rainforest as clear-cutting or slash & burn methods like those used to destroy nearly 90% of Madagascar’s Rainforest.   This process often affects nearby trees, pulls down old growth vines, leave unnatural decay in the form of stumps to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and let’s sunlight into areas in areas that have been established for centuries now. Much less the terrain degradation from vehicles and equipment brought in off-road, literally tearing up the forest Understory Layer, to cut down and carry away the trees.  One Mahogany tree can be sold in the market for hundreds if not thousands of dollars and it is hard for the poor native people who make an average of U.S.$1 per day to turn down the money, with or without approval.   This is a true case of people who  “Can’t See the Forest for the Trees”. 

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