Over 30% of the earth’s surface is covered in a green blanket of healthy, life-supporting forested areas. In addition to forming the habitat for countless animal species, over 300 million people live off the bounty and balance of nature. Of course, far more than that depends on the natural functions of the forest for their health.1
The forests both keep the watersheds pure and well-reserved and hold as much as 45% of the carbon stored on land. As if all this were not enough, the forest itself is an inspiring and wonderful place to visit with health benefits that are crucial to the modern human in this technological age.
Out in the forest, the modern human can connect with a timeless environment that has changed little since our own tree-swinging ancestors thrived in these natural surroundings. Everything you see out there from the lowliest root-clinging fungi to the most graceful tertiary feeders are connected in a complex ecosystem based on balance.
The complexity of a forest can vary depending on a variety of factors. Those forests located far from the equator in the taiga or boreal forest are especially hardy plants and only a select few can survive the infertile soil and extreme conditions.
Forest diversity increases as the temperatures increases in the temperate zones. Here the improved conditions allow for more complex forest types. The coniferous forests are evergreens that have become well-suited to dry conditions and long cold winters and never lose their needle-like leaves.
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Deciduous forests have also adapted to great extremes in heat, cold and the lack of sunlight in the winter by shedding their leaves each fall. Temperate forest may also be the home to a variety of evergreen and deciduous trees.
But, when it comes to diversity and great capacity for speciation, nothing beats the steamy warmth of the rainforest. Rainforests cover less than 3% of the planet’s surface but are the home to the most biologically diverse realms on the planet.2
What is a Rainforest?
Between the 23.5° N Latitude and 23.5° S Latitude lies the warmest climates of the planet in the tropics. The temperatures here can regularly hit 100°F or higher and the seasons shift dramatically between wet and dry. The rainforest is kept at a balmy 69°F to 76°F all year round – partially due to the thick canopy cover and partially due to the forest aerosols working to lower temperatures. Another important function of the rainforest is soaking up and storing the 100 inches of rain that can be expected during the rainy season.
In the rainforest, there are plants and trees so amazingly diverse they almost seem alien and many more species have not been discovered. Standing on the forest floor, the bright tropical sun is almost completely blotted out. This keeps the steamy forest in a state of perpetual twilight.
This thick canopy at the roof of the rainforest offers shelter, food, and water to a wide variety of animals that have learned to live in trees. Monkeys, snakes, tropical birds, insects of all sorts and many other smaller mammals and reptiles can be found high in the trees. Larger animals like deer, wild pigs, various feline predators, and many more mammals and insects also inhabit the cool forest floor.
Is it Like a Jungle?
The soil in a rainforest has a tendency to be very rich as the warmth and humidity allow decomposition to happen very quickly. Nevertheless, the abundant rainfall often carries away many of the nutrients where they are washed downstream
In addition to the less than favorable soil, the thick blanket of foliage at the canopy prevent all sunlight from warming the vast regions below the canopy. This results in practically no undergrowth. Smaller plants in the rainforest include mosses and ferns or plants that live on other plants such as orchids and strangling vines.
In a jungle, the trees are not as closely spaced and this allows for warm sunlight to bathe the jungle and fuel the undergrowth. Jungles are typically impenetrable due to the dense vegetation at ground level. Jungles often create the perimeter ring of the rainforest protecting and supporting within.
Dangers in the Rainforest
Deep in the rainforest, life is supported in abundance and the carefully cultivated atmosphere performs functions that benefit human life in countless ways. The biggest dangers in the rainforest are humans with big machines that routinely clear away rainforest to make room for development.
Commercial and local agriculture are the greatest threats to the rainforest. In Indonesia, millions of acres of prime rainforest are sacrificed to fuel the palm oil industry. Palm oils is a highly valued ingredient in the food, cosmetics, and domestic products industry. You are invited to check out this eye-opening expose on the palm oil industry.3
Because the bounty of the rainforest addresses human needs of comfort, medication, and even food, its destruction is foreboding. Ecosystems can be lost that will never be seen again, taking with them many unique animal and plant species. The threats to environmental conditions are far worse.
Deforestation allows high-level of carbons to be released into the Earth’s atmosphere and this contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. With fewer forests to purify the air and balance the water cycles, other aspects of human life can be placed at risk. If these gloomy tales motivate you to take action for our trees and planet, know that you are not alone.4
More Reasons to Love the Forest
Take the energizing power of exercise, the soothing energy of aromatherapy and the plethora of health benefits that can be found in essential oils and you have forest therapy. Simply taking time to walk in the woods and forests and commune with your natural self can ease the mind and protect the body from many of the worst diseases today.
This inspired MONQ to create their Forest Blend. All the curative and therapeutic benefits of forest therapy are synthesized in a personal diffuser for use in the urban jungle.
Photo credits: PiotrKrzeslak/shutterstock.com, AndrzejKubik/shutterstock.com, niceregionpics/shutterstock.com,