Earth Science

How to save the rainforest

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Parrot in rainforest
The one truly amazing fact is that even with their shrinking size, within the rainforests live almost 50 percent of the world's animals and plants
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Help save the planet.

Have you noticed that in almost every discussion about the environment and conservation there is usually the pressing question of how to save the rainforest? Actually, there is not just one rainforest—there are many.  There are rainforests on every continent except Antarctica; and they are all threatened.

There are two types of rainforests—temperate (found along the Pacific cost) and tropical rainforests (near the equator). The largest is in the Amazon Basin. Do you know that once rainforests covered more than 14 percent of the earth's land surface and now they cover only two percent? Tragically, if they continued to be ravished by the current rate of indiscriminate consumption, it is estimated that all the rainforests will vanish in less than 40 years.

The one truly amazing fact is that even with their shrinking size, within the rainforests live almost 50 percent of the world's animals and plants. And, although rainforest ingredients make up 25 percent of the cancer-fighting pharmaceuticals used today, scientists have tested less than one percent of their tropical plants and trees. Think about those yet to be discovered! Additionally, the Amazon Basin contains one-fifth of the entire planet's fresh water. It's not too hard to imagine what will happen if the rainforests cease to exist.

What is destroying the precious resources that can be found only in the rainforests?

The answer is quite simple and very disturbing. The industrialized countries, with only one quarter of the earth's population, consume four fifths of all the resources of the world. In order to meet our greedy needs, the forests have been cut, the land cleared and the natural resources of the rainforests have been decimated. Even tourism, which is good in so many ways, has contributed to the devastation of the rainforests because of hap hazard road building. Unless the governments and the indigenous people of the rainforest countries are taught other ways of making the lands of the rainforests profitable to them, there is no hope.

It is the belief of many experts that the rainforests have far greater value (both economically and humanely) if  they were left as is and their diversity of medicinal plants, nuts and fruits were harvested than if they were cut down to make grazing land for cattle or for timber. To say nothing of saving so many endangered animals.

How to Save the Rainforest

At home:

  • Recycle everything that is allowed by your local recycling company. By recycling products, you'll be helping to reduce the number of natural resources needed for the production of new products.

  • Store food in containers that are reusable, instead of using plastic or aluminum foil.

  • Don't run the water needlessly.

  • Replace your shower heads with water-saving ones.

  • Insulate your hot water heater (some utility companies will do it at no charge).

  • Turn off lights, TV and other electrical appliances when you are going to be away from home for more than one day.

  • Turn off the water heater and turn down your thermostat if no one is going to be at home.  Conversely, if you're using your air conditioner, turn it up when leaving. 

  • Take advantage of your utility company's free energy evaluations for your home.

  • Mulch your garden plants to conserve water.

  • Use plants and shrubs that are more draught resistant.

  • Return to your plant store/nursery the plastic or rubber pots.

  • Place bird feeders in your yard.


  • If you're camping, carry reusable dishes and cups.

  • Pick up all litter.

  • Build small campfires and be sure to extinguish all embers before leaving the site.

  • Don't needlessly trample sensitive undergrowth; stay on the trail.

  • Never buy any souvenirs made from any endangered plant species or animal.

  • Be careful not to disturb your surroundings and to protect all wildlife you see.

There are many organizations that are dedicated to stopping the destruction of the rainforests. Among them is The Nature Conservatory. You can readily access their Web site to learn more about their efforts and how you can participate/contribute to their work. When it comes to doing your part at home, get the kids involved as well. Reward children for doing things that are environmentally friendly and help them learn more about the rainforest by playing trivia games to teach them about this vital region of the Earth. Only through the work of many organizations and people throughout the world can the rainforests be saved. Isn't it time to do your part?

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