Tropical Rainforests: The World’s Most Enchanting Ecosystems and Where to Find Them

Welcome to a journey into the fascinating world of tropical rainforests, where lush greenery and diverse wildlife thrive in a delicate balance. These rainforests are some of the most unique and important ecosystems on our planet, serving as a critical resource for biodiversity, climate regulation, and human well-being. In this article, we will take a closer look at the tropical rainforests of the world and where they are located, highlighting their distinct features and importance. Let’s dive in!

What are tropical rainforests?

Tropical rainforests are dense forests characterized by high levels of rainfall and humidity, typically located in the equatorial and subequatorial regions of the world. They are home to an incredible array of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. These forests also play a critical role in regulating the planet’s climate by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide and producing oxygen through photosynthesis.

Features of tropical rainforests.

Amazon Tropical Rainforest

Here are some of the key features and characteristics of a tropical rainforest:

  • Warm and wet climate: Tropical rainforests thrive in warm, humid equatorial climates with average temperatures of around 25–28°C and abundant rainfall (over 2 meters annually). The warmth and moisture allow for year-round plant growth.
  • Lush, dense vegetation: Rainforests support an incredibly diverse and dense collection of vegetation, including tall canopy trees, short understory trees, shrubs, vines, and plants. Trees often support other plants on them.
  • Stratification: Rainforest vegetation is stratified into layers: the overarching tall emergent trees, the closed upper canopy layer, the lower canopy layer, the shrub/sapling layer, and the forest floor layer. Each layer has microclimates and organisms.
  • Ancient ecosystems: Many rainforests are extremely old ecosystems, like the 180 million-year-old Daintree Rainforest in Australia. Their age allows specialized interdependencies between organisms to evolve.
  • Biodiversity hotspots: Tropical rainforests house at least 50% of the Earth’s plant and animal species. The Amazon alone has 3,000 freshwater fish species and 40,000 plant species. Many rainforest species are still yet to be discovered.
  • Endemic species: Many plant and animal species are endemic, meaning they only exist in a single rainforest due to localized adaptations and isolation from other regions. Endemic species are vulnerable to extinction if their habitat disappears.
  • Interdependence & complexity: The survival of rainforest species relies on complex relationships with other species. For example, certain orchids fully depend on a specific bee species to reproduce. This complexity makes rainforests vulnerable to human disturbances.

Environmental significance

A lot of the features of these rainforests also make them crucial to our planet and the environment. They are a refuge for global biodiversity, harboring at least 50 percent of the planet’s plant and animal species, even though they cover only 6 percent of Earth’s surface. These hyper-diverse ecosystems have evolved over millennia to develop irreplaceable interdependencies between organisms. However, rampant deforestation threatens this, with rainforests disappearing at frightening rates.

Safeguarding remaining rainforests is imperative to ecological stability worldwide. Beyond providing habitat for countless rare species facing extinction, rainforests regulate rainfall patterns, store immense carbon stocks to curb climate change, and offer indigenous peoples resources and homelands. Their environmental value in terms of biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and water cycling makes them indispensable to life on Earth.

Learn about the fight to conserve tropical rainforests globally

Where are tropical rainforests located?

There is no definitive list of all the tropical rainforests in the world, but experts estimate there are between 100 and 200 separate rainforests globally. Most tropical rainforests are located in three major regions:

  • The Amazon basin in South America is home to the Amazon tropical rainforest, the world’s largest rainforest that covers nearly 2.1 million square miles and spans across 9 countries.
  • The Congo River Basin in Central Africa is home to the world’s second-largest rainforest, spanning around 700,000 square miles across 6 African nations.
  • The Indomalaya ecozone spanning India to Southeast Asia: This region contains dozens of tropical rainforests spread across India, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and other nations. Major forests include Sundarbans National Park in India and Bangladesh, as well as dipterocarp forests in Malaysia and Borneo.

Here are also 3 of the largest tropical rainforests in the world, with some key details:

  1. The Amazon: Spanning across 9 nations in South America, the Amazon rainforest covers over 2.1 million square miles, accounting for over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests. It contains 10% of the world’s known biodiversity, with researchers estimating there are around 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, 1,300 bird species, and over 400 mammals that call the Amazon home.
  2. The Congo Rainforest: The Congo rainforest is the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest, covering 700,000 square miles across 6 African countries along the Congo River basin. Despite rampant deforestation, it still contains over 10,000 species of tropical plants and is inhabited by forest elephants, chimpanzees, lowland and mountain gorillas, and over 400 other mammal species.
  3. Southeast Asian Rainforests (Borneo, Sumatra, and New Guinea): Occupying the world’s 3rd largest island, Borneo, shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, these fragmented rainforests cover about 600,000 square miles. It is estimated to be over 130 million years old, making it arguably the oldest rainforest outside of Australia’s Daintree Forest. Borneo contains some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, with over 15,000 flowering plant species, 420 bird species, and 222 mammal species like the Bornean orangutan. It provides habitat for some of the rarest species on the planet.

Tropical rainforests also dot Central America, the northern regions of South America like Venezuela, and coastal Queensland in Australia, home to the UNESCO-listed Daintree Rainforest. So while precise numbers are not known, most estimates suggest between 100 and 200 separate contiguous tropical rainforests globally, concentrated heavily in the Amazon basin, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia, comprising all together around 2.5 billion acres of rainforests still standing today.

Exploring the flora and fauna of tropical rainforests.

Tropical rainforests are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, home to a plethora of plant and animal species. Unfortunately, many of these species are facing extinction due to habitat destruction, climate change, and other factors. Here are a few endangered plants and animals species you may encounter in tropical rainforests:

Plants

Tropical rainforests are known for their lush vegetation, including tall trees, vines, and epiphytes. Some of the unique plants found in tropical rainforests include:

These rainforests support incredibly diverse plant life, including tall trees like mahogany and rosewood forming the canopy, shorter palms and bananas in the understory, woody vines and lianas twisting skyward, brightly colored flowers like orchids and bromeliads growing as epiphytes on branches, strange carnivorous plants like pitcher plants trapping insects on the shaded forest floor, and over half of the world’s estimated 400 billion plant species thriving in these botanical wonderlands.

Discover 10 fascinating plant species found in the amazon rainforest

Animals

Tropical rainforests are home to a diverse array of animal species, from tiny insects to large mammals. Here are some of the unique animals found in tropical rainforests:

Tropical rainforests are home to diverse, beautiful, and very unique animal species, many of which are yet to be discovered. It is vital to note that a lot of the animal species found in the rainforest globally are under threat, usually caused by the destruction of their habitats, as the world sees more and more tropical rainforests being reduced due to deforestation.

Learn more about some of the endangered animals found in the Amazon.

Conclusion

Tropical rainforests are some of the most important and fascinating ecosystems on our planet, providing critical resources for biodiversity, climate regulation, and human well-being. They are home to thousands of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. However, tropical rainforests are facing many threats, and it is important to take action to protect and preserve these vital ecosystems for future generations to enjoy. We hope this article has inspired you to learn more about the tropical rainforests of the world and where they are located.

Frequently Asked Questions.

How many tropical rainforests are there in the world?

There are several tropical rainforests around the world, including the Amazon rainforest, the Congo Basin, and rainforests in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Why are tropical rainforests important?

They play a critical role in regulating the planet’s climate, absorbing carbon dioxide, and producing oxygen through photosynthesis. They are also home to thousands of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Additionally, tropical rainforests are a source of valuable products, including timber, medicine, and food.

What threats do tropical rainforests face?

These rainforests are facing many threats, including deforestation, climate change, and human activities such as mining and agriculture. These activities can lead to habitat loss, biodiversity decline, and negative impacts on local communities that rely on the forest for their livelihoods. Learn more about Fund The Planet’s effort to protect the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest and how you can be a part of it.
Share the Post:

Learn More:

Rescue Rainforest Now

At the click of a button you can save a personal piece of the Amazon rainforest and ensure it stays safe from deforestation. You will immediately receive access to your piece of rainforest and will be able to track it to the square meter.