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Tropical rainforests hold the greatest diversity of life on the planet. For example, there are five times as many tree species on Madagascar than in the whole of North America. Rainforests are nature’s most precious gift.

lives in the rainforests of the Amazon
Where every drop of cool rain falls
As a thread of gossamer curtain
Parting to reveal a mime:
Spiders spinning life tales
Between giant trees;
Big brown ants readying a rich feast for their queen
Silence walks through this ageing carpet
Of muddy earth and leaves
Through a dark, endless cavern of
Translucent green
Covering each breath with a heavy blanket
of quiet. Even the Earth does not speak
As it claims an old tree
Jeneen Garcia, Alexander Bain School, Mexico
click picture to enlarge

Photograph: Tom Jolly, Peru

In a tropical country like Indonesia, it is very easy to find wood for paper. We have many trees for that. But imagine the land if it were not replanted. It would look like an old, bald man.
Astri Rahayu, Indonesia

In 1999, the United Nations announced that about 13.7 million hectares of the world’s rainforest are cleared or burned each year – about one football pitch every second! Logging of trees for timber, clearing of land for meat production, and mining are ways companies strip the land of trees. Poor people are forced on to forest land because rich companies have squandered the good agricultural land. In Lacandona rainforest in Chiapas, Mexico, one hectare of the forest will have about 30 different species of trees, 50 of orchids, 40 birds, 20 mammals, 300 butterflies and more than 5,000 insects. Now, more than 50% of the rainforest has been destroyed by population growth, industrial development, agriculture, farms and extraction of petroleum. We must preserve the rest.
Ricardo Quintana Vellejo, Mexico and Peris Siamanta Memus, Kenya

The Iwokrama Institute in Guyana is training people locally and internationally to utilise forests without destroying them. In 1989, the government gave 360,000 hectares of its forest to create the Rainforest Research Institute. Since 1996, it has found 12 new species of reptiles and amphibians. Iwokrama has become a natural preserve offering refuge to other animals who need to escape from human activity.
Trevor Benn, Guyana

web site editor: webmaster@grida.no Last update: March 2000