Approximately half of the living plant and animal species that exist on the planet today are found in tropical rainforests, and this fact in itself gives a rough idea about the amazing biodiversity that the rainforest ecosystem boasts of. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that these rainforests have an important role to play in maintaining the overall balance in the Earth's ecosystem. More recently however, they have been subjected to quite a few threats - natural as well as anthropogenic; with the latter having a bigger role to play in the damage that is being done. In South America, the forest cover has depleted by 40 percent which has left the environmentalists concerned about their future - wondering how these tropical rainforests can be saved.
Why Preserve Rainforests?
If you take into consideration the fact that somewhere around 80 percent of the planet's biodiversity can be traced to the tropical rainforests, you don't really need any more explanation on the importance of saving them. If that's not convincing enough, the 10 obvious reasons to save these rainforests that are given below will do the needful.
- A substantial amount of oxygen available on the planet is attributed to the tropical rainforests of the world.
- The huge trees in these rainforests absorb a substantial amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and help us counter global warming.
- If tropical rainforests disappear, it will also disturb the water cycle as evapotranspiration and precipitation patterns will be hampered.
- Loss of these rainforests will alter the weather pattern not just at the local level, but also at the global level.
- Several species of plants and animals which are endemic to the tropical rainforests will become extinct as a result of habitat loss.
- At the same time, we will lose a number of medicinal plants that can be helpful in curing a range of health problems.
- Birds which migrate from poles to tropical rainforests will face severe shortage of food when they turn up.
- As the roots of these trees hold soil together, their absence will add to the rate of soil erosion.
- Indigenous people who are totally dependent on rainforest resources will be left with nowhere to go.
- And lastly, we will ourselves destroy our chances of survival as we will have to face the domino effects of all these reasons that have been enlisted above.
How Can We Save the Tropical Rainforests?
Fragmentation of land is one of the major threats to the rainforests, and it can be attributed to natural processes (such as volcanic eruptions) as well as human activities (such as deforestation). No prize in guessing that human activities have a major role when it comes to depletion of forest cover in the tropics of late. The wood of gigantic trees found in the forests here is in great demand, which, in turn, has given logging industry a strong base. Other than logging, deforestation in the tropical rainforests can also be attributed to the clearance of land for mining, agriculture and human settlement. If saving tropical rainforests is the priority, one has to identify all these threats and get rid of them. While the authorities try their best to deal with logging and mining lobbies, you can resort to some simple ways to do your bit for the cause.
Everyday hundreds of trees are brought down to supply wood pulp required by the paper industry. If we reduce the use of paper and other paper products, we can make sure that we save at least some trees that would otherwise go to the paper manufacturing unit. Though simple, the rule of reducing, reusing and recycling can work wonders when it comes to forest preservation. Similarly, many companies are coming up with residential complexes in the close vicinity of these rainforests. It is wise to stay away from the seemingly luscious offers that they come up with as they will continue to inch deeper and deeper into the forest, while causing widespread destruction for their vested interest. The rule of staying away also applies to wooden furniture which is marketed as limited edition furniture made from exotic wood nowadays.
Hunting in the rainforests may seem fascinating, but loss of a single species here can result in domino effect on the entire ecosystem. The apex predator in the tropical rainforest biome is the jaguar which feeds on a range of herbivores with whom it shares its natural habitat. If jaguar population declines, the number of herbivores will increase and these herbivores will feed on plants and destroy the forest cover.
There exist several such examples of destruction in various biomes of the world. Like hunting, even the trend of keeping exotic animals as pets seems quite appealing, but it is by no means a sane thing to do - neither for the sake of rainforests, nor the species in question...... nor you. Outings in these forests are not harmful unless you come up with ideas like forest bonfires which eventually turn into forest fires, and engulf hundreds of trees in one go. Instead of contributing to deforestation directly or indirectly, you should take part in reforestation programs which are organized by various environmental protection groups.
While all these measures of preserving rainforests are quite helpful they can only reap rich dividends when all of us contribute. Spreading awareness about the importance of rainforests is quite important as that can make people think - and act to save the tropical rainforests. You can organize awareness programs in your neighborhood or at your school, and spread the message. At the same time, you can also raise money and donate it to credible organizations which are working for this cause.
PS: Even though this write-up stressed on the importance of tropical rainforests and how to save them, you need to take into consideration the fact that all the biomes are equally important, and do your bit to preserve them. The key is to understand that our planet is full of interlaced ecosystems where damage to one can result in a range of adverse effects on the others.