Tropical rainforests cover approximately 6 percent of the land on earth, an area equal to about 2.5 million square miles (6.47 million square kilometers). In contrast, the area that once was covered by tropical rainforests is 14 percent. The number is declining because of tree harvesting and other manmade intrusions, and scientists working for tropical rainforest conservation worry that many of the unique species of flora and fauna will disappear with the disappearing ecosystem. These conservationists work to stem the destructive trend.
The remaining tropical rainforests have already been impacted, with the result being the loss of some species because their habitats cannot support them. Scientists calculate that the earth loses almost 140 species of animals, plants and insects daily. As important as ecology and wildlife habitats are in tropical rainforest conservation, there are also repercussions for humans. Some scientists fear that potential cures for diseases are disappearing with the dwindling species. Plant ingredients make up more than 120 drugs on the market in the world. It is estimated that about a quarter of Western medicines are based on ingredients found in tropical rainforests, but scientists have been able to test only about 1 percent as they look for additional medicinal benefits. Fruits that grow in these rainforests number about 3,000, yet the Western world is familiar with less than 10 percent of them.
Some scientists recommend spreading the word about the importance of the rainforests through education, and advocate public support of businesses that conduct their work in the least damaging ways. They also recommend tropical rainforest conservation and restoration, suggesting the replacement of trees that have been harvested. Some advocates say that tropical rainforest conservation should include the creation of rainforest parks, specially protected areas, to ensure the survival of the unique environment.
A tropical rainforest is a forest ecosystem that experiences heavy rainfall, approximately 6.5 feet (198.12 centimeters) annually. These unique forests grow in areas located between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. The tropical rainforests have many growth layers, including a heavy overhead canopy of trees and a dense understory. The enormous diversity of species on land within a tropical rainforest can be compared to the great diversity of marine life found in the sea on coral reefs.