Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by hello. hello Wonders, “Why are rainforests so important?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, hello!

Do you love trees? We do! And you should, too. Trees do all sorts of great things for humans. They take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They provide shade. They also give us places to build fabulous tree houses. What would we ever do without trees?

Some of the most important trees in the world live in rainforests. Even though the nearest one may be far away from you, they still help you every day.

There are two types of rainforests--temperate and tropical. The temperate forests are much cooler in temperature than the tropical ones. They also tend to be further from the equator. Temperate rainforests can be found in Chile, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. They also grow in parts of North America and Australia, among other places. 

Tropical rainforests are very warm. They have many tall trees, diverse plants and animals, warm climates, and lots of rain. They receive at least 80 inches of rain each year. Many receive an inch or more of rain every single day!

Tropical rainforests are found near the equator. The largest one in the world is the Amazon. It covers more than two million square miles of South America. Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central America also have rainforests.

All rainforests have a canopy. That’s a layer of branches and leaves at the tops of the tallest trees. The canopy can easily be 100 feet or more above the ground.

Most plants and animals live in the canopy rather than on the ground. And what a collection of life it is! Scientists believe that around half of the plants and animals on the Earth live in rainforests. Many of these species are endangered and can only live in this habitat.

Unfortunately, our rainforests are shrinking. Every year, we destroy a section the size of the state of New Jersey. This destruction occurs for many reasons. People cut down trees for wood and to make room for farms or roads. Many groups fight this destruction because of the important role they play in our world.

Scientists sometimes call rainforests the “lungs” of Earth. Their millions of trees take in huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They make much of the oxygen humans and animals depend on. Without them, there would be less air to breathe!

Rainforests also help maintain Earth’s climate. By taking in carbon dioxide, they help to reduce the greenhouse effect. This helps slow worldwide climate change.

Finally, rainforests help maintain the water cycle. Water produced there makes its way all over the world. As rainforests shrink, it affects Earth’s water cycle. This leads to droughts in many areas around the world.

Are you WONDERing what you can do to help? One thing you can do is reuse and recycle wood and paper. You can also call and write your elected politicians, who have more say in how we treat our rainforests. There are also organizations you can join to help them, including the Save the Rainforests Foundation. 

Rainforests are an important part of life on our planet. They provide us with many resources, from the oxygen we breathe to homes for many animals. Without them, the Earth could run into major problems.

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