About Tropical Forests

How Tropical Forests Affect Life on Earth

Tropical forests grow within the latitude 28 degrees south and north from the equator. They cover about 10 percent of the surface of the Earth but they are of vital importance for the life on Earth as we know it. More than one half of the world’s plant and animal species directly or indirectly depend on tropical forests which also play an important role in both local and global climate.

Tropical forests work as carbon sinks because trees absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and release pure oxygen. As a result, tropical forests help prevent the planet from over-warming but they also have a major influence on precipitation and help prevent soil erosion, floods and landslides. Lastly, they are an important source of various forest products which besides wood also include food and medicines.

The Loss of Tropical Forests

Satellite images of the world’s tropical forests show an alarming picture. A large part of tropical forests are permanently lost with a part being in a degraded condition. Some of the most recent reports indicate that the rate of tropical forest loss has been slowing down in the recent years but many environmentalists argue that deforestation is even quickening. Despite the conflicting views of the deforestation rate, there is a common agreement that the loss of tropical forests is a major environmental concern.

South Asia lost nearly 90 percent of its tropical rainforests, while the condition isn’t any better in Africa. 90 percent of the coastal rainforests in West Africa are gone. The same counts for Madagascar’s eastern rainforests. The situation is also critical in Central and South America. The latter is home to the world’s largest tropical forest - the Amazon rainforest which covers an area of about 1.5 million square miles (4 million square kilometres) and spans over 9 states. According to most reports, the world’s tropical forests may disappear by 2050 if deforestation will continue at its current rate.

Preserving the World’s Tropical Forests

Everyone can help preserve the world’s tropical forests because the resources and products from these forests are consumed by all of us. Even if you live in the UK, you can help save the Amazon rainforest and tropical forests elsewhere. The impact may be limited but everything that helps save a tree makes a big difference including paper recycling, buying environmentally friendly teak garden furniture and other products, joining an environmental organisation or/and raising the awareness by talking about the issue with friends, colleagues, co-workers, school mates and other people you know.