Survival of Rain Forest Essential to Our Survival

Article excerpt

Byline: J. Hope Babowice

You wanted to know

Nathan Roys, 10, of Mundelein wanted to know:

If we cut down all the rain forests, how would that affect us?

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For more information

To learn more about the rainforest, the Grayslake Public Library suggests the following.

- Video: "Rainforest for Children" series of three tapes: Plants, Animals, People.

- "The Most Beautiful Roof in the World" by Kathryn Lasky.

- "Secrets of the Rainforest" series by Michael Chinery: Partners and Parents, Plants and Planteaters, Poisoners and Pretenders, Predators and Prey, People and Places and Resources and Conservation.

- "Journey into the Rainforest" by Tim Knight.

- "Nature Unfolds. Gerard Cheshire" by Richard Orr, also illustrator of "The Tropical Rainforest."

- "City of Beasts" Isabelle Allende (fiction).

On the Web

See Fauna & Flora International Web site at www.fauna-flora.org.

Nathan Roys, 10, a fourth-grader at Mundelein's Diamond Lake School, asked: "If we cut down all the rain forests, how would that affect us?"

"Cutting down all of our rain forests would be a catastrophe," said Sara Brown Riggs of the Rainforest Action Network in California.

Lisa Hootman of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle said: "It would affect biodiversity and cause huge erosion problems."

Rain forests are complex ecosystems at the equator that cover 2 percent of the Earth's surface, yet house more than half the Earth's plant and animal species. The largest rain forests are in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia.

What makes a rain forest? Diversity and climate. An estimated 5 to 10 million species of animals, plants and insects thrive in the rain forest. Rainfall ranges from 160 to 300 inches each year and the temperature hovers between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here's how the rain forest works. A dense thicket of trees, vines, shrubs and other plants rise to 160 feet in areas that span hundreds and hundreds of miles. Hidden within are four layers of plant and animal life - the forest floor, the understory, the canopy and the emergent layer. …