Rainforests are a type of forest characterized by high rainfall and year round growth.1They are one of the world’s most ancient ecosystems or groups of plants and animals and their habitat.7 Trees are a major component of the rainforest habitat, and can reach a height of 200 feet (61 meters) or more!1 Rainforests can be found in temperate and tropical zones across the globe.
Temperate rainforests occur in mild climates all over the world. Many temperate rainforests occur in coastal areas where fog can deliver lots of moisture.1 In these rainforests, rainfall can reach up to 13.9 feet (4.2 meters) per year!2 The largest temperate rainforest in the world occurs along the Pacific coast of North America.1
Tropical rainforests occur near the equator between the Tropic of Cancer (23° N) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23° S). These rainforests are found in Central and South America, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands and northern Australia. They cover less than 6% of the earth’s surface (about the size of the United States).6 4 The largest rainforest is the Amazon of Brazil, which lies in the Amazon River basin, the largest river basin in the world.5
Tropical rainforests can be dense, where rainfall is abundant year round; seasonally moist, where rainfall is abundant but seasonal; or drier and sparser like the rainforests of northern Australia.4 Precipitation can vary from 50 to 260 inches (125 to 660cm) a year and averages about 80 in per year.6 Temperatures in the tropical rainforest stay between 68 and 93 degrees (20-34 degrees Celsius) and humidity is between 77 and 88%.6
Tropical rainforests are unique because, contain a high level of biodiversity and produce 20% of the worlds fresh water and oxygen. This vital resource is being destroyed every second. Learn more about deforestation and how to save a meter2
of the rainforest.
1 Waskev, Andrew J. “Rain Forests.” Encyclopedia of Environment and Society. Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2007. 1463-65.
2Temperate Rainforests. National Park Service.
3“rainforest”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. 2012
4Lindsey, Rebecca. “Tropical Deforestation” NASA Earth Observatory. NASA, 30 Mar. 2007.
5”Amazon Rainforest”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. 2012
6 Kalipeni, Ezekiel. “Tropical Forests.” Encyclopedia of Environment and Society. Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2007. 1463-6
7Newman, Arnold. Tropical Rainforest: Our Most Valuable and Endangered Habitat with a Blueprint for Its Survival into the Third Millennium. New York, NY: Checkmark, 2002. Print