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10 of the Biggest and Popular Rainforests of the World That Might Surprise You

A close look at the subtropical forest in Nepal.

A diverse and complex ecosystem of living organisms thrives in a rainforest. It forms an essential part of the earth. These forests provide humanity with air, water, food, and medicine. They also absorb carbon to prevent global warming. Forests have been a part of the earth for the longest time. Some of them are so old that it is hard to name their age. In fact, some rainforests of the world are survivors of the Ice Age!

There are various types of forests. The rainforest makes up 3% of them, but half of the total flora and fauna live there. For every hectare of rainforest, about 40 to 100 different animal and plant species survive in it.

Abundant vegetation defines a rainforest. They are so thick that sunlight hardly reaches the forest floor. Its environment is often dark, damp, and humid. Almost every continent has rainforests except for Antarctica. The climate and temperature affect its survival.

Thus, they flourish in places where the weather is warm. The generous amount of rain also contributes to its existence. This is why most rainforests of the world are present near the equator.

Amazon Rainforest

This is an aerial view of the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon Rainforest is one of the oldest and biggest tropical rainforests in the world. It is also the most undisturbed. A vast part of it covers Brazil in South America. How big is the Amazon Rainforest? It spans about 5.5 million square miles of land! It also covers eight different countries! About 40% of South America houses the Amazon.

Amazon is one of the richest places in the world. However, it does not only provide habitat for the wild. It also supplies oxygen, water, and other basic human needs.

The last uncontacted tribes still live in its jungle. Although today, some of the native tribes have opened up to civilization. Most of them have adopted the ways of the modern world. They are no longer the typical people who wear loincloths. Tourism plays a part in this change.

Congo Rainforest

A sweeping view of the massive African Congo rainforest.

The Congo Rainforest in Africa spans six different countries. A large part of it lies in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is thriving with thousands of species of plants and animals. Its trees are higher, but they are less dense. That’s because gigantic animals live there. Examples are elephants, gibbons, and gorillas. There are also plenty of herbivores. Thus, it explains its low density.

The Congo Basin faces environmental threats. There are already programs created to protect and conserve the rainforests of the world. The 1.6 million square mile span of Congo Rainforest has eight national parks. These parks are also proud World Heritage Sites. Through this, the rainforests will be able to preserve its cultural significance.

Bosawas Biosphere Reserve

A dirt road leading to the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve.

The rainforest in Bosawas is one of the richest rainforests in the world. This 7.7 thousand square mile-forest covers north-central Nicaragua. It hosts the borders of North and South America. Bosawas is teeming in biodiversity. Hence, flora and fauna of the north cohabit with those in the south. Quetzals, the colorful birds, live in the Bosawas Reserve.

Bosawas is also a World Heritage Site. Yet, a large part of its area remains unexplored. According to experts, most of its inhabitants are already near-extinct. The Spider Monkey and Baird’s Tapir are among the last surviving endangered animals.

The forest provides great aid for the locals. Moreover, it houses several watersheds that supply the major rivers. Unfortunately, deforestation for farming and agriculture also threatened forest areas.

Daintree Rainforest

A sweeping look at the Daintree Rainforest.

The Daintree Rainforest is a popular forest in Australia. It has an area of about 463 square miles. Daintree is also one of the oldest and largest rainforests in the world. There are still traces of prehistoric times present there. It is older than Amazon by 10 million years!

The interesting thing about Daintree is its large number of insects. Approximately 12,000 different species are living in it! Butterflies, bats, and Australian frogs live there too. There are also three thousand plant species in Daintree.

Most of them are the last remaining plants from the past. One example is the Idiot Fruit. This plant lived with the dinosaurs millions of years ago. It is not unusual since it looks like any ordinary tree. But they matched an 88 million-year-old fossil!

Dangerous animals also lie in the heart of Daintree. For once, the crocodiles, snakes, and leeches live in its swamp. Nonetheless, you can still trek the forest with a professional guide. Some paths take visitors to the wonders of this ancient forest.

Kinabalu National Park

A look inside Kota Kinabalu National Park.

Kinabalu National Park is home to four thousand different flora and fauna. Several mammals, birds, and snails thrive there. The giant earthworm and the giant leech are endemic in Kinabalu. Nepenthes, one of the dangerous jungle plants, also resides in its jungle. There are two species of birds that live only in Kinabalu – the friendly warbler and mountain blackbird.

The Kinabalu National Park has a total land area of 291 square miles. It surrounds the highest mountain of Borneo, Mount Kinabalu. It is Malaysia’s first national park, and also a World Heritage Site.

There are tours available in Kinabalu National Park. It takes visitors up the mountain to witness the looming beauty of the forest below.

Southeast Asian Rainforest

Deep inside the Southeast Asian Rainforest.

The Southeast Asian Rainforest has 113.1 square miles of forest. It covers India, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. This forest is also ancient, but it is more diverse than any other rainforests of the world. It is partly due to its location in the equator.

The consistent climate allows vegetation to flourish. Its soil is so rich that falling seeds germinate on its floor. A species of tree called Dipterocarp dominates the entire region. Honeybees are also thriving there.

This rainforest is one of the largest remaining forests in Asia. Sadly, it is also fast depleting. Most of the locals depend on the rainforest for survival. Thus, it is often dubbed as the Forest Under Pressure. There is a rampant deforestation activity for agricultural and industrial ventures.

Valdivian Rainforest

A look up the treetops of the Valdivian Rainforest.

This temperate rainforest lies in Southern America. It expands from Chile to Argentina and is named after the city Valdivia. It has an area of about 95.8 square miles. This temperate rainforest differs from the tropical rainforest. That’s because it experiences the winter seasons. Ice sheets and glaciers also decorate their backdrop. Most of the time, it is foggy and humid here because of the heavy rain.

Four ecosystems exist in the Valdivian Rainforest. It includes the deciduous forest with species of beech trees. The Valdivian laurel forest has broad-leaf evergreens. Furthermore, conifers dominate the Patagonian Andean forest. At the same time, a mix of broad-leaf and conifers forms the Northern Patagonian forest.

Tongass National Forest

A view of the snowy mountains and the Tongass National Forest.

Tongass National Forest is one of the United States’ largest temperate forests. It lies in the wilderness of Alaska. Of the 26.5 square mile area, only half of it makes up a rainforest. Half of it is glaciers, ice, and bodies of water. Tongass is also home to diverse flora and fauna. Most of them are rare and near-extinct. The brown bear, wolf, and other marine species thrive in Tongass.

Tongass is one of the remaining intact rainforests of the world. To protect its biodiversity, the Roadless Rule was imposed. The rule disallows road construction and timber harvesting.

However, in 2019, Tongass faced a major threat. The US government lifted the Roadless Rule for the opening of the roads. It is to push logging and development in Alaska. Various environmental groups opposed the order. Thus, Tongass was later exempted from it.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

The misty mountains of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Low-lying clouds often decorate the mountains of Costa Rica. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of the rare tropical cloud forests. It is also one of the biggest rainforests in the world. The westerlies make this cloud formation possible. The 40.54 square miles of this forest reserve runs along the edges of Cordillera de Tilaran.

Since 1972, Monteverde has been considered a reserve. It is to protect the area from deforestation. The forest has six ecological zones. About 90% of these zones are virgin forests. It is home to a thousand plants, animals, and insects. It also contains the most number of orchid species. Tourists visit Monteverde for its cloud forest and bird watching activities.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

A look deep inside Sri Lanka’s Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Sri Lanka’s Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a 43.19 square miles of dense rainforest. UNESCO considers it as a Heritage Site. It is also a probable site for the New Seven Wonders of the World. Sinharaja has about 60% prevalent and rare tree species. Animals such as leopards and elephants roam in its jungle.

Unlike other rainforests of the world, Sinharaja limits tourism activities. The high level of protection wants to keep it safe from human activities. Local communities are also working for their preservation. However, illegal poachers and miners are still rampant. With most forests facing threats, how do you think you can help with their protection?

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