Rainforests are essential to life on Earth. They provide us with clean air, water, food, and medicine. They are also home to a multitude of living beings. Additionally, rainforests are known to be one of the best natural defenses against climate change, as they can absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. However, human activities continue to threaten rainforests. Deforestation has been rampant in many countries, causing a massive decrease in trees.
If the current rate of deforestation continues to rise, it is projected that all rainforests will disappear within a century. There is no better time than now to address how we can protect them.
Yes, there are several of them, but here are the largest.
|Amazon Rainforest / Photo by: Filipe Frazao and Shutterstock via Atlas and Boots|
Size: 2,123,561 square miles
The Amazon is probably the most popular rainforest not only because of its size, which spans nine South American countries (Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana), but also because it contains at least 10% of the biodiversity on Earth. According to an article by Atlas and Boots, an outdoor travel site covering thrilling activities in far-flung places, from coast to countryside and everywhere in between, the Amazon is home to an estimated 390 billion individual trees that make up 16,000 species.
|The Congolese River and Rainforest / Photo by: Rich Carey and Shutterstock via Atlas and Boots|
Size: 687,262 square miles
Spanning parts of Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea, the Congolese is home to an estimated 600 species of trees and 10,000 animal species. It contains five national parks that are all designated as World Heritage Sites. Among the major rainforests, the Congolese Rainforest has enjoyed the lowest deforestation rate.
|Rainforest island on New Guinea / Photo by: Dreamstime via Atlas and Boots|
New Guinea Rainforest
Size: 111,197 square miles
Comprising 65 percent of the land of New Guinea, this rainforest is the largest in the Asia-Pacific region. It is home to some of the world’s most unique plants and animals. In fact, there are more orchid species here than in any other place on the planet. However, since 2013, the New Guinea rainforest has been facing a threat to its existence as a 2,700-mile highway is under construction that threatens every species living there.
|Argentina's Valdivian Temperate Rainforest / Photo by: Juan Vilata and Shutterstock via Atlas and Boots|
Valdivian Temperate Rainforest
Size: 95,792 square miles
Located on the west coast of South America, the Valdivian Temperate Rainforest has four forest ecosystems, namely the Patagonian Andean forests, the Northern Patagonian forests, deciduous forests, and laurel forests. According to an article by MSN, a web portal and related collection of internet services and apps for Windows and mobile devices, you can find an abundance of ferns, bamboo, and evergreens in this rainforest.
|The orangutan at the Heart of Borneo / Photo by: Dreamstime via Atlas and Boots|
Heart of Borneo
Size: 84,942 square miles
The Heart of Borneo is located on the world’s third-largest island and is estimated to be around 140 million years old. This makes it one of the oldest rainforests in the world. It is a mix of lowland and montane rainforest located above 1,000 feet. Just like other rainforests, the Heart of Borneo is at risk due to logging, hunting, and conversion to commercial land use. Reports showed that in the past 40 years, Borneo has lost 30 percent of its forest.
|A polar bear on the Pacific Temperate Rainforest / Photo by: Magnetic North via Atlas and Boots|
Pacific Temperate Rainforest
Size: 23,300 square miles
The Pacific Temperate Rainforest is considered the biggest of its kind, stretching along the western coast of Canada and the US. It has a major underdeveloped area, such as the Great Bear Rainforest and the Tongass National Rainforest, which contains wild fisheries, old-growth forests, lakes, and glaciers. Among the threats to this ecosystem are clearing trees for logging and road building.
|Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra / Photo by: Atlas and Boots|
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
Size: 9,653 square miles
Located in Indonesia, the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra was once jungle-covered and packed with indigenous flora and fauna. However, almost half of it has been lost to deforestation in the past 35 years, taking a toll on the animal populations that once thrived there. Its national parks, such as Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat, and the Bukit Barisan are the last hope of the rainforest for the long-term conservation of its varied plant life and myriad endangered species.