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Explore the world’s largest rainforests

Rainforests are associated with life. Although these forests cover only 2% of the total surface area of ​​the earth, they are home to half of the plant and animal species. Rainforests, as their name implies, are very humid. Annual rainfall in these forests averages more than 178 cm.

There are different types of rainforests; But in general they can be divided into two categories: tropical forests and temperate forests. Tropical forests are hot and watery and are located near the equator; While rarer temperate forests can be found north or south of the equator near coastal areas. The world’s largest rainforests fall into the first group; But in this article, we have also mentioned some examples of the largest temperate forests.

It is difficult to compare the size of forests; Because their starting and ending points are not completely clear. A forest can cover several countries or islands, or it can be divided into several parts due to deforestation. There is no doubt about the first and second largest forests in the world; But the other three forests mentioned in this article have been measured based on expert estimates and opinions.

Amazon Forest

Located in South America, the Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world. The forest covers about 80 percent of the Amazon Basin, covering an area of ​​6 million square kilometers, or more than half of the United States, which is 8.9 million square kilometers. Also, this forest is three times bigger than the other forest in the second rank of this list. In South America, Amazon covers nine countries, including Brazil, Peru and Colombia.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Amazon contains at least 10 percent of the total biodiversity of the Earth or a collection of plants, animals, and other living things. These species include a large number of species, including the lazy, the Harpia Harpyja, the Bertholletia excels, and the Jaguar or American Panthera onca.

Brazil has the largest share of the Amazon rainforest, covering more than 17.3 million square kilometers of the main forest. It goes without saying that the mentioned country is also ranked first in terms of deforestation; More than 260,000 square kilometers of the country’s forests have been lost since 2001. Elizabeth Goldman“Global Forest Watch’s research director says:

Much of this problem is due to agricultural development. Fires are used to clear the land, and sometimes the fire spreads to nearby forests.

The Amazon cleanup is aimed at large-scale industrial agriculture and animal husbandry, including livestock such as cattle and crops such as soybeans. Fires affect climate change and can cause forests to become hotter and drier. In this way, the forests become more ignited and create a destructive feedback loop. According to Mongabay, a nonprofit news website, humans have lost nearly a million square miles of Amazon jungle in deforestation since 1978.

Amazon Forest

More than 850,000 Indigenous people in more than 300 tribes live in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil

Congo Basin

The Congo Basin in Central Africa is the second largest rainforest in the world with an area of ​​more than 2 million square kilometers. The rainforest covers six countries in West and Central Africa: Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). More than 992,000 square kilometers of this forest is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; As a result, it has the largest share of rainforests after Brazil.

Forest gorillas and elephants and thousands of other species of animals live in the Congo rainforest. Many of these species, including bonobos or dwarf chimpanzees (Pan paniscus) and Okapia johnstoni, are not found anywhere else on Earth.

The Congo Basin is endangered for reasons such as deforestation, especially agriculture. Farmers looking to provide food for their families or local markets are destroying the Congolese rainforest on a smaller scale than the Amazon Industrial Deforestation. Goldman says:

It is usually cultivated for several years in a row in the fields of this forest until the soil nutrients are reduced. Then, land is not suitable for agriculture for several years; As a result, the forest is regenerated. Thus, the cycle of deforestation and reforestation is repeated.

The Congolese forest is also at risk due to urban development, mining and industrial drilling.

Congo Basin

Congo River at sunset in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

New Guinea Rainforest

The third largest and most continuous forest in the world is the island of New Guinea, which is divided into two territories: the eastern half, which is part of Papua New Guinea, and the western half, which is part of Indonesia. With an area of ​​786,000 km, the island is home to at least 5% of the world’s plant and animal species, including tree kangaroos and crowned pigeons.

As we have said before, the largest rainforests can hardly be categorized after the Amazon rainforest and the Congo Basin. Sometimes it is easier to measure rainforest coverage based on countries with defined borders. New Papua New Guinea, for example, covers about 318,000 square kilometers of main rainforest.

The New Guinea rainforest could include the forests of northern Australia; Because they are connected to each other. New Guinea and Australia separated about 11,700 years ago. Agriculture and commercial drilling accelerated the deforestation of New Guinea. These processes include cutting down trees to harvest timber and planting industrial palms to harvest crops such as palm oil.

New Guinea rainforest

Aerial photo of Papua New Guinea rainforest

Sandaland Rainforest

Sandaland rainforest with an area of ​​approximately 510,000 square kilometers is next. The rainforest covers the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia and the adjacent islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo, and covers five countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and Singapore. This may be a little confusing; Because Indonesia is actually home to two separate blocks of rainforest: the Sandaland Forest and the New Guinea Forest. It also has the third largest share of forest cover; Because the area of ​​its forests reaches 840 thousand square kilometers.

The Sandaland rainforest is home to many species, including the orangutans and the rainbow toad (Ansonia Latidisca) and the carcass flowers (Rafflesia arnoldi), the world’s largest flower. According to Global Forest Watch, Indonesia’s main rainforest has shrunk by 97,000 square kilometers since 2001. However, Goldman praises Indonesia’s performance in deforestation. He says:

In general, there is a lot of palm oil cultivation or timber extraction industry in this area; But over the past four years, we have seen a decline in the deforestation of Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Indonesian government has been very active in efforts to reduce deforestation; Especially since the country experienced a bad fire in 2015.

Sandland Forest

The Musa River in southern Sumatra, Indonesia, shines golden

Mekong River Basin

The Mekong River Basin is located around the Mekong River, which is the longest river in Southeast Asia at 4,900 square kilometers. Myanmar has the largest share of forests in the Mekong Basin, covering 134,000 square kilometers of rainforest within its borders.

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The Mekong River has more than 1,000 species of freshwater fish; Including endangered species such as Pangasianodon gigas. The rainforests around this river contain a collection of other species such as the psychedelic lizard (Cnemaspis psychedelica) and the Panthera tigiris. It goes without saying that large-scale agriculture, especially the production of rice, sugar, rubber and biofuels are the main factors of deforestation in the large Mekong area.

Bloody Waterfall

Bloodfall Falls, part of the Mekong River in southern Laos

Tonga National Forest

The world’s largest temperate rainforest is the Tonga National Forest in Alaska. This forest is smaller than all the tropical forests mentioned in this article, and according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it covers an area of ​​68,000 square kilometers. Moderate rainforests have less coverage than tropical forests and are usually found along oceans in colder climates.

Tonga National Forest

A photo of the Tonga National Forest on Baranov Island, Alaska

Located off the southeast coast of Alaska, the Tongan National Forest is home to wildlife species such as salmon, brown bears (Ursus arctos), black bears (Ursus americanus) and white eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Over the past century, large parts of Tonga’s national forest have been destroyed for various reasons, including deforestation, and the forest is still endangered today, according to the Audobon Association, a non-profit habitat and bird conservation organization. The Tongan forest is vulnerable to climate change and is at risk of drought, according to the USDA.


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