While many of us have heard about the plights to “save the rainforests”, few of us may know the true value and nobility of this cause. The rainforests are of great economic, social and moral importance to the planet. As humans we tend to not understand what we can’t see and if we don’t understand it, we certainly won’t invest time, effort or money into it. This issue can cause disconnect between us and the efforts to save our forests because our global rainforests are so much more than what meets the eye.
Covering less than 2% of Earth’s surface, rainforests are home to 50% of the world’s plant and animal life, most being endemic. The biodiversity that can be seen within the layers of a rainforest from forest floor to over 200 feet into the sky, is unparalleled by any other environment on the planet. Boasting an astonishing 1,000 trees and over 300 species per hectare, the rainforest is Earth’s greatest game of I spy.
Even with only covering 2% of the earth’s surface, rainforests store and recycle huge quantities of water. The Amazonian rainforest is expected to store over half of the Earth’s rainwater! SpongeBob, eat your heart out. Without the trees releasing this water back into the atmosphere, effectively feeding streams, rivers and irrigation systems, regional droughts would be far more abundant producing harmful conditions for humans and animals alike which can cause great devastation to native populations.
Native populations are not limited to plants and wildlife but also to indigenous people whom also call these rainforest permanent homes. They have adapted their way of life to coexist harmoniously with the vegetation and organisms, depending on the forest for all their needs from shelter to medicine. These people possess great insight into how the rainforest operates and what benefits can be reaped without serious harm to the forest.
Indigenous people have helped the world to discover that more than 25% of modern medicines have originated from rainforest plant species which only comprises of 1% of these extraordinary plants. The other 99% is still a mystery that has the potential to unlock cures and remedies to otherwise persistent diseases. Asia and African forests contain the rauvolfa shrub whose bark is used to cure high blood pressure and mental illnesses while Madagascar, the birth place of Ny’Ala skincare, is home to the rosy periwinkle- a plant used to cure leukemia. Another valuable plant from Madagascar is Ravintsara, a natural camphor that heals lungs and skin rashes. You can find that in Ny’Ala’s Revive Collection!
If we don’t begin to overvalue our rainforests-our natural hubs of mysticalesque landscape and wildlife, we can only look forward to global regret and repercussions.
written by Clara Perez, from New York City, creator and blogger at The Green Scheme Blog