Rainforests are the world’s oldest living ecosystems. Despite covering just 6% of the Earth’s surface, they are immensely diverse and complex. They are home to more than half of the world’s plant and animal species. They absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, maintaining the air balance while also playing a pivotal role against climate change. That is why they have often been recognized as the “lungs of the Earth” and the “world’s largest pharmacy.”
Since a single rainforest might cover multiple nations and be divided by islands, comparing rainforest sizes is extremely challenging. However, we can rank the world’s largest rainforests based on estimates and expert opinion. Now let’s take a look at 5 of the largest rainforests in the World.
Largest Rainforests in the World
5. Eastern Australian Temperate Forests
The Eastern Australian Temperate Forests stretches from central coastal New South Wales to southeast Queensland and contains various natural ecosystems, microclimates, and rich wildlife. It spans more than 222,100 square km, predominately by dry sclerophyll and wet sclerophyll eucalyptus forests. And the local wildlife includes velvet worms, koalas, kookaburra kingfishers, gang-gang cockatoos, crimson rosellas, and many threatened birds.
4. Valdivian Temperate Rainforest
Located on the west coast of South America, Argentina and Chile, this rainforest spans a narrow strip of the area between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. An essential and dominant feature of this ecosystem is the endangered Fitzroya cupressoides tree. It is the largest tree species on this continent, with a lifespan of nearly 3,600 years. The forest is also characterized by the dense collections of ferns, bamboos, and evergreen angiosperm trees that dominate the landscape.
One can find some of the unique and threatened animals here, like the world’s smallest deer – Southern Pudú, adorable tree-dwelling marsupial – Monito del Monte, and Kodkod – a wild cat that looks like a leopard but is the size of a house cat. Other wildlife includes nonnative wild boars, hummingbirds, southern river otters, and many more.
3. New Guinea Rainforest
The third largest rainforest in the world lies on the island of New Guinea. It is divided into two territories: the eastern half is part of Papua New Guinea, while the western half is part of Indonesia. This island is around 303,000 square miles (786,000 square kilometers) in size, and very few ecosystems on Earth can compete with the variety of the New Guinea Rainforest.
Ranging from deep tropical rainforest to coastal mangroves, this island is home to some of the world’s most unusual plants and animals, including rats that are larger than most house cats (Bosavi Woolly Rat) and kangaroos with the ability to climb trees (Tree-kangaroo).
2. Congo Basin Rainforest
Spanning six countries across much of the Congo Basin, this is the second largest rainforest in the World. The rainforest is a jumble of rivers, forests, savannah, wetland, and flooded woodland. And it teems with wildlife, including mountain gorillas, forest elephants, chimps, bonobos, and buffaloes. In fact, it is home to around 10,000 tropical plant species, 400 animal species, 1,000 bird species, and 700 fish species.
1. The Amazon Rainforest: Largest Rainforests in the World
The Amazon rainforest in South America is the largest rainforest in the world, covering more than 5,500,000 square km. It covers 40% of South America, spanning 9 countries, including Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. But the majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest.
This Amazon rainforest is home to approximately 390 billion trees of 16,000 different species. It is also home to incredible wildlife, including South American jaguar, pygmy marmoset, macaw parrots, Green anaconda, Bullet ants, Emperor tamarin, and many more animals.
Rainforests Are Shrinking
Despite their great importance, rainforests are constantly threatened due to large-scale farming and ranching, expansion, logging, mining, and climate change. Since humans began chopping down trees, more than half of the planet’s trees have been gone. However, many individuals, non-profit organizations, governments, and conservation organizations are taking innovative approaches to preserve these endangered rainforests. So now it is your turn to speak up against deforestation and demand the government to pass and implement new immediate, bold, and ambitious laws to protect the world’s heart, the Rainforests.
Check out our other articles to learn more about the rainforests, animals, climate change, and other environmental aspects, and post your suggestions in the comments section as well.
Thumbnail Image: By Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas or alternatively © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32769219 1: Photo by David Riaño Cortés: https://www.pexels.com/photo/rainforest-surrounded-by-fog-975771/ 2: By Cgoodwin - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5606022 3: By Joelbua - https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7383065688/in/set-72157630154337890/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19933863 4: By poudou99 - own work, photo personnelle de Poudou99, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3860782 5: By Colin Freeman, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2946246 6: By Fred Hsu (Wikipedia:User:Fred Hsu on en.wikipedia) - Photo taken and uploaded by user, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7976632 7: By MONUSCO Photos - Rainforest - Ituri, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46293800 8: By Phil P Harris. - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=717267 9: By Don Faulkner - Pygmy Marmoset, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48300021 10: By original author does not wish to be named for safety reasons - email, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9171311