Today (22nd June) is – a time for celebrating the diversity of rainforests and finding ways to protect this valuable habitat. As part of our Climate Conversations series we’ll be looking at the role rainforests play in relation to climate change.
Rainforests are known for having high biodiversity, meaning there are lots of species. Here’s a staggering example:
The UK is one of those countries.
Why so many?
The world’s rainforests are situated in areas of high sunlight and rainfall, which makes plants . They also have a stable climate, where plants and animals can survive all year round without the need to migrate or hibernate. The competition and adaptations to deal with survival and breeding have led to the biodiversity present in the rainforests today.
so that the plant can defend against insect attack and the insect can go on eating the plant. These competitive interactions between species result in many pockets of individual niches for plants and animals to exploit for their survival. Rainforests have many niches over a small area that are filled with unique species of plant and insect that aren’t found anywhere else. There are also many insects that will eat other insects, which opens up further niches. Of course, that’s just the insects and plants. There are countless more niches and interactions in rainforests around the world.
The 5 largest rainforests in the world:
The Amazon, South America
The Congo Rainforest, Equatorial Africa
Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, Central America
Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia
Southeast Asian Rainforest
Rainforests and climate change
The world’s rainforests release 20% of the oxygen that we need to breathe, and correspondingly they take in a large amount of carbon dioxide, helping to counteract climate change. Unfortunately, deforestation, mainly for agriculture, means that as this unique habitat is lost, we also lose the rainforests as carbon sinks. As climate change worsens, the from the change in climate, exacerbating the problem.
The causes of deforestation:
While there are many restoration projects that seek to plant trees, these can never recreate the diversity that previously existed. Preventing deforestation is much more important. This protects biodiversity and helps mitigate climate change.
Read more from our Climate Conversations series
Kerrie Curzon, Collections Assistant