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 and 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 rainforest may be far away from you, they still help you every day.

Tropical rainforests have a wide variety of tall trees, diverse plants and animals, warm climates, and lots and lots of rain. To be a rainforest, an area must receive at least 80 inches of rain each year. Many rainforests receive an inch or more of rain every single day!

Rainforests are found in the tropical areas north and south of the equator. The largest rainforest in the world is the Amazon rainforest in South America. Rainforests can also be found throughout Africa, Asia, Australia and Central America.

All rainforests have a canopy. A canopy is a layer of branches and formed at the tops of the tallest trees. The canopy can easily be 100 feet or more above the ground.

In rainforests, most plants and animals live in the canopy rather than on the ground. And what a collection of plant and animal life it is! Scientists believe that around half of the plants and animals found on the Earth live in rainforests.

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

Scientists sometimes call rainforests the “lungs” of Earth. The millions and millions of trees in Earth’s rainforests take in huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce much of the oxygen humans and animals depend on.

Rainforests also help to maintain Earth’s climate. Scientists believe carbon dioxide is a major factor in climate change. By taking in carbon dioxide, rainforests help to reduce the effects of worldwide climate change.

Rainforests are also an important home to about half of the species of plants and wildlife on the planet. Many of the species found in rainforests are endangered and can only live in rainforests.

Finally, rainforests help maintain the water cycle through their large amounts of rainfall every year. Water produced in rainforests makes its way all over the world. As rainforests decrease in size, Earth’s water cycle is affected, leading to droughts in different 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 the rainforests, 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 rainforests, the Earth could run into major problems.

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