Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Green Room

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Green Room

Article excerpt

Conserving Tropical Rain Forests

Tropical rain forests boast greater biodiversity than any other terrestrial biome on Earth. Found in Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and northeastern Australia, these forests are warm and wet with an incredible variety of animals and highly complex food webs.

Functioning tropical rain forests provide ecological goods and services to all life on Earth (see "On the web"), including:

* nutrient cycling and soil formation,

* rain making,

* regulating climate and air quality,

* provisioning goods, and

* sustaining culture.

Solutions to deforestation

Humans often harvest too many goods from tropical rain forests, diminishing their ability to provide important ecosystem services. Forest land is used for agriculture and development, and the trees for lumber or fuel.

Researchers recently estimated that up to 57% of the tree species in the Amazon are at risk of extinction. According to spatial modelling and projected deforestation rates, these species meet the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) criteria to be listed as globally threatened (Steege et al. 2015). Watch a short CNN video to understand the main causes and environmental effects of deforestation (see "On the web").

Conservation efforts and national policies could slow the rate of tropical rain forest deforestation. In Peru, the creation of the 1.3-million-hectare Sierra del Divisor National Park was a great step forward (see "On the web"). Protected areas designated throughout the Amazon highlight "the key roles that protected areas, indigenous peoples, and improved governance can play in preventing large-scale extinctions in the tropics in this century" (Steege et al. 2015).

Expose your students to conservation efforts and ideas from sources such as National Geographic and NASA (see "On the web"). …

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