Monday, October 19, 2015

The Rainforest - 9 things you probably didn't know

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
Yesterday was the Norwegian fundraising campaign - TV-aksjonen. The campaign has been held annually since 1974.

This year the money will go to the Rainforest Foundation and the saving of the rainforest, in cooperation with the indigenous people in Peru, Brazil, Congo and New-Guinea.1
Photo courtesy of
According to the campaign's site, the money shall save a rainforest area larger than Norway and Denmark together. The volunteers were carrying collecting tins and went from door to door to collect donations.

To commemorate the day, here are nine interesting facts about the rainforest:
  1. Deforestation in tropical countries accounts for appr. 130.000 square meters of forest, and that's the annual number! It has been revealed that since 2000 a rainforest area equal to 50 football fields has been destroyed every minute.2

  2. Medicines that treat malaria, cancer, heart diseases and more, are developed on the basis of chemicals from plants and animals that have the rainforest as their habitat. According to National Geographic, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates "that 70% of the anti-cancer plants identified so far are rainforest plants".3

  3. Does the Australian rainforest hold the key to curing cancer? Researchers find berries that can break down tumors.

  4. The world's next largest rainforest can be found in the Congo Basin. 

  5. Heard about the UN-REDD program? Maybe your home country is a donor?

    REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. Essentially it's about reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in developing countries. These countries receive a "reward" or financial value as UN-REDD call it, for reducing the emissions.

    Instead of cutting down the forest, sell the timber and use the land for let's say, palm oil production (which by the way is a profitable business to many), the program intends to kind of reverse the mindset and try to make deforestation less desirable.4 The UN-REDD program is genius that way by accommodating the need to make a profit. With REDD it's profitable to leave the forest alone.

    But whether the program is working or not, is another question. 

  6. Heard about the term "biospectring"? It's when you go into the rainforest with the aim of finding plants for food, cosmetics and medicines.

    Over 20% of pharmaceutical drugs contain ingredients from the rainforest.6 Companies like Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc. collaborates with indigenous healers to gain a higher success rate in developing a potential profitable drug.7 These indigenous healers sit on tons of valuable information on their tropical surroundings, hence the plants that can be used for medicinal purposes and HOW to use them.

    Whether the indigenous peoples have been compensated (adequately), is a problem with today's "biospectring". In 2013, the European Parliament debated a draft biopiracy law which would require the pharmaceutical industry to compensate the indigenous people for their knowledge (applies to commercial use) . 

  7. "Lungs of the Planet" is what the Amazon rainforest is called, because it produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen. 

  8. The International Day for Biological Diversity has been celebrated since 2001 on May 22. Before 2001, the original date was December 29 (the date when the Convention on Biological Diversity came into force). Since the December date collided with a number of holidays (Christmas, New Year's you know), the new date was moved to May 22.

  9. International Conservation Union (IUCN), founded in 1948, was the world's first global environmental organization.

    The IUCN red list of threatened and near threatened species contains species from the rainforest, including the jaguar (panthera onca), the beautiful Okapi (looks horsy with zebra stripes, known as the forest giraffe) and the Lemur Leaf Frog (agalychnis lemur) - a really cool-looking frog with its large cartoonish eyes! 
    Lemur leaf frog. Copyright: dirkercken / 123RF Stock Photo
    Rainforest animal Okapi. Copyright: gi05 / 123RF Stock Photo
    Rainforest animal Okapi. Copyright: gi05 / 123RF Stock Photo
  10. The Amazon rainforest contains millions of species (most of them are still unknown). 40,000 plant species, over 370 types of reptiles and 3,000 freshwater fish species can be found in the region.8 And according to the Guardian, the home to 16,000 tree species.9

Continue to read:
An environmentalist choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Eco-friendly alternatives to notebooks.


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