It's no secret that we're SUPER passionate about rainforests and their role in our very survival on this planet. Here's a list of the top 7 things you need to know about them.
1. Known as the "lungs of the planet”
Rainforests have been described as the “lungs of our planet” because of the way they provide the essential service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. The Amazon Rainforest alone provides over 20% of the world's oxygen. Even though the vast majority of this is immediately recycled into the vast ecosystem of the Amazon itself, it is absolutely crucial in keeping the "machine" running. What many people don't realize is that by destroying these vital ecosystems, we are not only losing a large part of the infrastructure we rely on for producing oxygen, but that all of the carbon that is being stored within the trees and root systems is actually released BACK into the atmosphere once the trees are cut down. So it's basically a double-whammy, we lose our oxygen supply AND we increase our overall carbon emissions. It's because of this that the entire Forestry & Agriculture industries contribute to almost double the greenhouse gas emissions than the ENTIRE transportation industry.
2. Home to over HALF of the known species on Earth
Of the estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects on the Earth, more than half of them call the Rainforest home. Bengal tigers, mountain gorillas, orangutans, jaguars and three-toed sloths are just a few of the magical creatures found in rainforests. Sadly, many of these species are fighting extinction, and their continued existence is crucial to maintaining the balance of these amazing, but delicate, ecosystems.
3. Critical to maintaining Earth’s limited supply of fresh water
Rainforests act as natural water filters, keeping pollution and debris from flowing into water supplies. They also slow down rainwater, sending it into underground reserves. A full FIFTH of the world’s fresh water is located in the Amazon basin.
4. Earth's pharmacy
Over 25% of all modern medicines are derived from plants found within the Rainforest, yet only 1% of the plants that grow there have actually been studied for their medicinal value. Do the math on that one. Vincristine, extracted from the rainforest plant Periwinkle, is one of the world’s most powerful anticancer drugs. It has dramatically increased the survival rate for acute childhood leukemia since it’s discovery.
5. Our best defense against climate change
Not only do they regulate global temperatures, they also stabilize local climates and limit the Earth’s reflectivity, which in turn stabilizes ocean currents, wind patterns and rainfall. Efforts such as reforestation through tree planting can certainly help with the long term strategy, but recent studies have shown that the most effective strategy for combating the effects of climate change is to insure the protection of the rainforests we still have left. Once they're destroyed, it will take hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of years for the ecosystems to regenerate to their full capacity.
6. A swath of rainforest the size of 36 football fields disappears every MINUTE
Humans are destroying the very resources that we rely on for our survival, to support things such as animal agriculture, palm oil, and timber. Cattle ranching currently accounts for over 70% of the deforestation. Scientists predict that we are losing upwards of 120 species every DAY due to the current rate of deforestation.
7. Nearly 90% of people living in extreme poverty worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods
A recent study found that rainforest land converted to:
Cattle Operations: Yields the land owner $60/acre
Harvested Timber: Yields the land owner $400/acre
Sustainable Resources: Yields the land owner $2400/acre
Which means that the MOST beneficial use of the land for our very survival is actually the most economical for the landowners as well. This is one of the foundational reasons we’re working to create new economies for the natural resources we use in our products!