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This lesson introduces the impact of rainforests on many different areas – climate, plants, animals, and humans. It explains how rainforests play a key role in keeping our planet healthy.

Not Just Beautiful

Think about a jaguar’s spots. Or the deep blue of a butterfly’s wing. Both are examples of amazing animals that live in tropical rainforests. Rainforests have value just for their sheer beauty. But their importance goes much further.

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Rainforests not only provide benefits to the earth as a whole, they also provide many things that we use. Let’s take a closer look at why rainforests are so important.

Rainforest dwellers: jaguar and butterfly
Clean water and a healthy climate are vital to all life
water on plant

What Rainforests Provide

If you look around, chances are you will find things that came from a rainforest. Rainforest trees produce beautiful woods like teak and mahogany – popular for making houses, decks, tools, and furniture. Look in the kitchen. From coconuts to cocoa (chocolate), many fruits and vegetables we grow and enjoy came from the rainforest originally.

Have you ever snapped a rubber band? Played on a tire swing? Rubber is used in many household products and comes from a rainforest plant. And let’s not forget medicine: rainforest plants like the golden trumpet have parts that can heal cuts and make people with diseases like malaria well again.

Tires use rubber, a rainforest product
pile of tires

Protecting Rainforests

When you hear that rainforests need protection, you might think, ‘protection from what?’ Sadly, because of the rainforests’ many useful materials, people are chopping down the trees and clearing out the land where rainforests used to be. This process is called deforestation and it can have disastrous results.Because of deforestation, the animals that used to live in the rainforest no longer have anywhere to live or much to eat.

In addition, the trees that used to help keep the dirt in the rainforest are gone, so when it rains, much of that soil gets washed away. With the trees, plants, and soil mostly gone, all the extra water has nowhere to go and can cause flooding. These are just a few examples of what can happen when rainforests are destroyed.What can we do? In some areas where rainforests grow, people have been practicing sustainable living.

Sustainable means using a resource without destroying it forever. Humans must learn to use rainforest resources at a rate slow enough and in ways that do not damage the forest too badly. Humans can also help keep conditions healthy for the plants and animals living there.

Lesson Summary

Rainforests are not only exciting to explore and rich with beauty, they also provide water, food, and shelter for all kinds of life, including human life.

Problems like loss of soil and flooding can be avoided by practicing sustainable living and preventing deforestation. Rainforests help keep our climate and planet healthy, so protecting rainforests helps us all!

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