There are four main tropical rainforest regions on earth, from left to right: the Neotropical- (to which the Amazon belongs), the Afrotropical-, the Indomalayan-, and the Australian Rainforest (to which also parts of the Pacific belong). The Indomalayan's- and the Australian Rainforest's borders merge in Indonesia.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Plan:

If you want to achieve something (in this case saving the rainforest), you should have a good plan of how you want to do this. Here an example of what I thought of for the example (the major problem with it is that it greatly depends on lots of money, and it also is a rough-rough plan only of course):

1st version (would be the best and easiest, unfortunately it is the most unrealistic):
* the different state-leaders of the region form a giant (inter)national-park

2nd version (much harder, but (a bit) more realistic)
* convince people (both investors and normal people) of why and how the Amazon should be saved (with the help of booklets, internet presence, presentations, books, films, etc.)

* start a major fundraising campaign

* with the donated money, buy as much Amazon-land as possible at once (if necessary throughout the years if, which probably is the case, the money is not enough to buy all land at once)

* build / found the Amazon National Park
· involve the indigenous people into the project (though it may seem ridiculous, ask them for permission - they should understand the project, ask them for help...)
· help the former farmers, loggers, miners, etc. of the region affected financially by giving them work in the park or elsewise finding a solution for those who by this lose their job and seek help

Once the national park is to be built, following are also very important:
* measure the exact size of the forest / national park (via satellite or else)

* make a great species list with
· List of all fauna known (with descriptions of them, endangered ones highlighted, always update) · List of all flora known (with descriptions of them, endangered ones highlighted, always update)

* List all different ecosystems and ecoregions (by looking at the different species, finding important connections, measuring climate (throughout the years) and altitudes, geology, ecoregions also by similar ecosystems, and other important differences)

* by all these informations divide the forest / national park into different sectors (e.g. sector A, sector B..., this way it is easier to get a quick overview over the forest)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What can you/we do?

Unless you're a billionaire (please contact me), there is not much you can do - or? Oh no, even though you might not be Bill Gates (at least that's what I think. If you are, do contact me!) there is in fact a lot you can do to help. Here a short list:

1) spreading the message:
- you can make similar websites like this, especially if you speak any other languages. I for example speak German, so I made a German site like this with the exact same information, just in German (you can find the link to this to the right). If you want to, feel free to translate my text into any language you can speak and make websites like this. It's not about copyright, but about sending a message.
- make your friends and relatives aware of the problem
- you can even make and hand out leaflets
- try to contact locals of the region both to make them aware of the threat, and to create concepts of saving the forest together with them
- if in any way possible, try to get powerful people like polititians, celebrities and Bill Gates on (y)our side. If they fight along with us, we have half won already

2) personal:
- only buy wood of which you are sure it is not from any primeval forest. One way to buy 100% calm, is to buy wood with the FSC mark (Forest Stewartship Council), as they only give their mark to environmentally friendly logged wood. It is more expensive because of this of course, but it would pay off in the longrun if everybody bought their wood only - someone has to start anyway!
- paper use: several very important points
1) buy recycled paper
2) write and print on the back of each page used
3) use old paper with an empty back page as scrap paper (e.g. you can cut it into smaller pieces and jot down your to-do-list or notes for a presentation on them)
- lessen your beef consumption: besides the fact that cows produce thousands of tons of methane, one of the greenhouse gases, 60% of the Amazon are being hacked down due to beef production!
- support groups like Greenpeace, WWF and Robin Wood
- (more or less obvious) do not collect any rare creatures from the tropics (or elsewhere!), especially if it is unclear where they were retrieved, no matter how strong the urge to have them is

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Good Sources

I will list all kinds of websites, books, magazines and co. for good information on the Amazon Rainforest. The list will be updated, and you may add your ideas to the list too, so everyone can share the knowledge. So, here's the list (it's short now, but remember, it will be updated with your help):
Mongabay has information on all the major tropical rainforests of the world. Most of my research is based on their info. Good site
A great portal and gathering place for more specific info on the Amazon. Works like a search engine, only focusing on the Amazon.
Not as scientific as the first two ones, but a very, very nice website for children (not stupid or simple in any way though). A very nice website!
Nice infos.
Under this website you can view Flora brasiliensis, a work published in the years between 1840 and 1906 about the Brasilian flora. And under
you can see the newly edited web-version of it with taxonomic classifications and other info.

BRAZILIAN NATURE - Mystery and Destiny (by the FAPESP, who also publish the Brazilian science magazine Pesquisa FAPESP)
This (I think) non-recurring brochure/magazine/booklet was published as part of the Brazilian Nature exibition in the Berlin botanical garden - thus it is in German. It basically describes how the Flora brasiliensis was developed by Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius and parts of Brazil.

GEOlino extra Nr. 6
GEOlino is a German magazine too. For all those who do speak German, this is a source. Actually it is for children, but it does give good stories and infos for "non-children" too (at an easier digestable stage). Especially nice is its visualization.

wikipedia does give good backup information, cannot be entirely trusted (especially in numbers) though, so you should always check the information there

That's it so far, but I'm waiting for your help, ideas and opinions!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Basic Information

In order to get newcomers started right, I have gathered some backround information here. This should be enough backup for discussions, though if anyone has something to add to that, he or she can comment. So here we go!

The Amazon Rainforest – A short Intro
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest on earth. It has seasonal forests, rainforests, deciduous & flooded forests and savannas, all drained by the Amazon River. The whole Amazon covers around 40% of South America, with estimated 8,235,430 square km (3,179,715 square mi). This is almost as big as the USA including Alaska and Hawaii. 60% of the main Amazon concentrate in Brazil, the rest lies in Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Some of its arms even reach far north all through Middle America up to Mexico, or south to Argentina and Paraguay.

The Amazon River
The Amazon River is the world’s largest and 2nd longest river. Over 1100 tributaries, of which 17 are longer than 1000 mi themselves, drain as much land as the USA. The mouth ends in a ca. 483 km (300 mi) wide delta. During the high water season, up to 183 million cubic meters (600 billion cubic ft) of water can flow into the Atlantic Ocean, which only mix with the salt water after 200 km (125 mi). Early sailors could drink from the ocean before even sighting South America. Each day, 32.3 million cubic meters (106 million cubic ft) of suspended sediment are swept into the ocean. The result of that is the Marajo Island, a river island the size of Switzerland.

The Four layers
The Amazon Rainforest consists of four main layers: the forest floor, the undergrowth, the canopy and the emergent layer.
The forest floor is the lowest and darkest part of the rainforest. Only around 2% of the natural sunlight reach the forest floor. The top 5 cm (2 inch) of soil contain ca. 99% of the soils nutrients. That is why most roots of the massive trees and plants are quite shallow.
The undergrowth barely receives light either. 2-5 % of the light filter through, and the plants have adapted to the darkness with giant dark green leaves. Due to the sparse wind, plants depend on insects and other animals for the spread of their seeds.

In the canopy most of the life takes place. It is the densest part of the forest and around 80% of the light are filtered here, darkening everything lower. Most of the flowers and fruits flourish here. Epiphytes cover every possible space, and bromeliads offer an important water source.
The highest places in the rainforest are the trees of the emergent layer. They can be 60 m (200 ft) tall and their trunks can have 4 m (16 ft) circumference. Many species living in the emergent layer never touch the ground because everything they need they find there.

Fauna of the Amazon
It is estimated that about 30% of all species on earth inhabit the Amazon. There are more than 360 mammal species, ca. 1400 bird species, 430 amphibians, 380 reptile kinds, more than 3000 freshwater fish and 2.5 million insect kinds. One square mile (2.6 square km) can often house more than 50,000 insect species and a single bush most likely contains more ant kinds than the British Isles. Some scientists estimate that around 30% of the Amazon’s total biomass are made up of ants. Over 90% of the animal species in the Amazon Basin are insects.

The majority of mammals are bats and rodents, and the Amazon is home to the world’s largest rodent, the capybara, which can weigh 91 kg (200 lbs). Yet, there also are the edentates (e.g. sloths, armadillos, anteaters…) which only exist in America, or the two river dolphins the Boto and the Tucuxi (the Tucuxi are not considered true river dolphins because they also live in the ocean). By the way, many traditional saltwater creatures, like for example the dolphins, or sponges and stingrays, have adapted to the Amazon River and its network of tributaries.

There are more than 1000 frog kinds in the Amazon Basin, of which the majority live in the canopy of the trees. The major difference between temperate frogs and those in the rainforest is that temperate frogs are limited to bodies of water because their skin needs to stay moist for their respiration. Tropical frogs live in a very moist environment which enables them to leave water and so escape many predators like fish, shrimps, aquatic insects and their larvae. This also explains the high prosperity of tropical frogs in contrast to temperate ones. Probably, amongst the most known frog kinds of the Amazon is the brilliantly colored poison dart frog. Even though they are quite slow moving, these frogs secrete powerful toxins. Their remarkable color is there to warn potential predators.

Many fish of the Amazon are important dispersers of tree seeds. Often they migrate hundreds of kilometers up and down the river, like the Piramutaba catfish, which is thought to migrate around 3300 km (2050 mi) up to its spawning grounds in the upper Amazon. The largest freshwater fish of the world is the Pirarucu (i.e. Arapaima). It is found in the waters of Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Columbia and Bolivia and can reach up to 5 m (16 ft) length and weigh 600 kg.

Smuggling living animals, especially exotic ones like those from the Amazon, is forth after drugs, diamonds and weapons in the smuggling business. This is a great problem, especially concerning reptiles and birds of the Amazon Rainforest. The rarest bird on earth, the Spix's macaw, was limited to four birds still remaining in the wild in 1987. It always had been quite rare, due to the limited possible ecosystems (palm groves and river edges in the center of Brazil) but deforestation, imported African bees and especially over-collection by bird fans have lead to its great decrease. Now, it is believed to be totally extinct in the wild, and there are around 120 birds remaining in captivity. 78 of them are bred for an international reestablishment program, and the fight for survival goes on.

Amazonian Flora
There are around 438,000 plant species described up to date, yet there are many more. 1 ha alone can often house more than 480 different species of trees.
A very remarkable thing about the plants in Amazonia is their adaption to the different levels of the forest (i.e. the forest floor or the canopy). Plants in the undergrowth for example have large green leaves to catch the little light left. In the canopy a lot of plants have so called ‘drop tip’ leaves, large smooth oval leaves ending in a tip. This way rainwater runs down the leaves and does not gather and mosses, fungi and lichens cannot form. And trees in the emergent layer have rough small leaves with a waxy substance to hold water. They also use the wind by growing winged seeds which are carried to other regions of the Amazon.

Indigenous People
500 years ago, around 10 million native people inhabited the Amazon and its surroundings. Now there are less than 200,000 left, either westernized or deep inside the woods.
Many natives, especially shamans and medicine men, possess very important knowledge about the plants and their properties. This knowledge is already being used in the medical and cosmetic business, but often these people are exploited and then left aside, and the great knowledge slowly dies away with its people – Since the 20th century more than 90 tribes have been destroyed by globalization and forget their old traditions alongside with the old wisdom. On the other hand you cannot forbid them to go to school, have a television or an air-condition. The natives of the Amazon are caught up between modern and of course more comfortable living and the old traditional ways.

20% of the Amazon are gone now. Land is being cleared for cattle, for agriculture, mining and logging. Forests are being burned for charcoal. It is estimated that in less than 40 years the Amazon and all the other rainforests around the globe will be entirely vanished from the earth’s surface if deforestation goes on at such a pace. Every day around 80,000 acres of rainforest, which is equal to 800 km2 (308.88 mi2) on earth are lost to the fire and the saw, and 130 species of plants and animals. And that even though the Amazon Rainforest alone creates 20% of the world’s oxygen and captures thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. It truly is the earth’s green lung and we are destroying it.

sources (all information extracted 2008):
main source:
other sources: (for the four layers of the rainforest) (for the description of different animals; eventhough wikipedia is not considered a reliable source, I do think, for certain infos, it is legitimate to use it)