Rainforests are not just found in the Amazon but in Indonesia (in northern climates we have temperate boreal forests which are home to Arctic animals, and chopped down to make paper and bathroom tissue). A rainforest is simply a forest with lots of rain! The best-known one is the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, at risk due to logging and cattle ranching and home to many endangered species (frogs, snakes, monkeys, bears) and tribes (who can get sick from visitors, due to no immunity from disease).
Rainforests are also important to help prevent climate change as they give out oxygen (they also provide 25% of the world’s medicines). And despite only covering 6% of land on earth, they contain half of all plant and animal species. The ‘top’ roof canopy covers the understory and forest floor (home to leopards, jaguars, tapirs and tree-dwelling toucan birds).
remembering Paulo & friends
In 2019, Brazilian ‘forest guardian’ Paulo Paulino Guajajara was killed by armed loggers, after he and other environmental activists campaigned against them taking his forest him for the timber industry (usually to make house and street furniture like park benches). He was just 26 years old. This is similar to the story of American Catholic nun Dorothy Stang, who lived in the Brazilian rainforest to stop hardwood being illegally logged. A friend of native tribes, she was shot dead (witnesses say she prayed for her killers, as she died).
These people think they can come here, into our home, and help themselves to our forest? No. We won’t allow it. We don’t break into their houses and rob them, do we? My blood is boiling. I’m so angry. Paolo
Chico Mendes was a Brazilian rubber tapper and environmentalist who fought to preserve the Amazon rainforest and human rights of those who lived with him. He said ‘at first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees. Then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Then I realised I was fighting for humanity’
Destroying rainforest for economic gain, is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal. E O Wilson
how to preserve the world’s rainforests
- Avoid palm oil (from Indonesian rainforests that is harming habitats of endangered creatures. There is no such thing as sustainable avoid palm oil.
- Buy recycled bathroom tissue to stop temperate forests being destroyed.
- Buy Fair Trade foods (bananas, tea, Brazil nuts, chocolate etc). This empowers native growers.
- Buy songbird-friendly coffee from shade-grown bushes, to avoid chemicals (farmers use the shade to grow other crops alongside). Avoid caffeine for pregnancy/nursing and medical conditions.
- Do not buy endangered wood (mahogany, teak, balsa). Buy recycled or sustainable FSC-certified furniture/paper.
- Avoid aromatherapy oils from endangered trees (rosewood, sandalwood, cedarwood). Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing/medical conditions (keep away from babies/pets).
books to help save the rainforests
- The Small and Mighty Book of Rainforests offers bite-size facts and amazing illustrations. Did you know rainforests contain plants that eat mice, frogs with see-through bellies and spiders the size of your dinner plate? The corpse flower smells like rotting meat, and titan arum only flowers for 48 hours, but stinks while in bloom!
- Up in the Canopy explores one huge Kapok tropical tree (100 metre tall) in the heart of South America. Meet the elusive Harpy eagle, which lives exclusively at these great heights. Readers can ascour the forest floor, understory and canopy to find the world’s rarest creatures.
- An Irish Atlantic Rainforest is a personal by Eoghan Daltun who moved to West Cork on the Beara peninsula, to rewild a 73-acre farm. This follows the remarkable journey (including a wild forest that burst into life before his eyes) along with information on climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and why we need to transform our relationship with nature. A story about allowing natural ecosystems to return and thrive, without interference.
Life Lessons from the Amazon is the tale of an epic 3-month adventure through unexplored jungle terrain. Survival skills and a flesh-eating parasite weren’t the only things Pip took home from the rainforest. From contending with snakes to learning the value of community, forgiveness and self-belief, she shares pearls of wisdom that we can all apply to our own lives. On one adventure she got too close with a sandfly, and found a flesh-eating parasite munching through her neck, as a result. After contracting leishmaniasis, she now campaigns to raise awareness of neglected tropical diseases.