The rainforest

Two young orangutans in the rainforest on Sumatra, Indonesia Orangutans are dependent on large contiguous rainforest areas

A green sea of ferns, mosses, vines and ancient trees. Iridescent butterflies and colorful birds. Flowers in every hue of the rainbow. The “green lung” is a natural wonder of the world. Find out more about the world’s most diverse, fascinating and threatened ecosystem.

The tropical rainforest is an eternally green band that spans the Earth at the equator. Its climate preconditions – high temperatures and at least two thousand liters of rain per square meter per year – have given rise to perhaps the most remarkable ecosystem on the planet in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Southeast Asia.

The rainforest is also the world’s most diverse habitat. Covering no more than five percent of the planet’s land area, tropical rainforests are home to half of all animal and plant species. Yet this rich heritage is in jeopardy. The forests are being cleared – mainly by timber, palm oil, soybean and mining companies – and with each tree felled, we lose a bit of biodiversity. 

More than half of the planet’s rainforests have already been cleared, and further areas have suffered grave damage or have been fragmented into many small islands of forest. Every one of the forest giants is the habitat of hundreds of further plant and animal species, and when a tree is cut down, its inhabitants also perish. Every human intervention further upsets the delicate interdependence of plants and animals.

Despite lip service and efforts to the contrary, the pace of rainforest destruction has not slowed. Around 10.4 million hectares – and of that total, 6.3 million hectares of primary forest – are still disappearing every year. The forest, with its biodiversity and intricate interdependencies of its inhabitants, is more threatened than ever.

Find out more about this natural environment and why it is so worthy of protection on the pages below. We need your help in preserving the last rainforests!

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Protest on a beach of Nias Island in Indonesia Protest on the beach of Nias Island (© WALHI Sumatra Utara)

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Indonesia: Fight the marine bitumen spill off Nias Island!

An environmental disaster is unfolding off the island of Nias: The wreck of the tanker MT AASHI, which ran aground months ago, is leaking bitumen – a sticky, tar-like crude oil byproduct – polluting the waters and damaging coral reefs, mangrove forests and coastlines. Call on the Indonesian government to take action!

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To: Government of Indonesia, Government of North Sumatra, MT AASHI

“Take action now to prevent further pollution of the marine environment off Nias!”

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