What are Rainforests?« Back to Questions List

Rainforests are forests that receive a very high rainfall (90-180 inches) annually. These are one of the very valuable natural resources and home to millions of unique life forms.

There are two types of rainforests – tropical and temperate. Tropical forests are the ones located near the equator. They have a consistently a warm and wet climate with ample sunlight and don’t experience distinct seasons at all. The trees here are generally very tall reaching up to a height of 60-120ft. Temperate forests are generally cool with only a few species of trees as compared to tropical rainforests.


The overabundance of plants gathering sunlight at the top of the tropical rainforests blocks most sunlight from reaching the bottom of the forest. Only 1% of the sunlight reaching the forest reaches the lower levels. The lowest levels of the rainforest are extremely dark, making it difficult for robust plants to thrive.


The excessive rainfall dissolves all the nutrients in the soil, making it relatively infertile except at the top layers. For this reason, rainforest tree roots grow outward to cover a wider area, rather than downward to lower levels. Therefore the trees are somewhat unstable as they don't have roots strongly anchored in the ground. Some trees compensate for this by growing natural buttresses. These buttresses are nothing but an additional support from the side of the tree and down to the ground.


There are also a large number of reptiles, mammals, birds, insects and bacteria species in the rainforest. All these life forms play a major part in seed dispersal.  Gorillas, orangutans, wild pigs, big cats and elephants can all be found in rainforests. There are a number of people who live in the rainforests as well.


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