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TROPICAL RAINFORESTS - WHERE AND WHAT ARE THEY?
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Tropical rainforests are found across the world between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, 22.5° North and 22.5° South of the Equator. Almost half of the remaining tropical rainforest is found in tropical America, a bit more than a third in Asia and Oceania, and fifteen percent in Africa. Tropical rainforests cover approximately 8% of the world’s land surface - an area of approximately 1.2 billion hectares - and yet contain over half of the earth’s species of animals and plants. The largest rainforest, the Amazon, is found in South America and spans nine nations (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname, as well as French Guiana), covering a total area of approximately 600 million hectares. The atmosphere and oceans are not the only parts of the environment being damaged. Rain forests are being quickly destroyed as well, and their survival is questionable. E.O. Wilson, a biologist at Harvard, called the depletion of rain forest areas "the greatest extinction since the end of the age of dinosaurs." Unlike some environmental issues, rain forest depletion has fortunately received significant public and media attention. Despite the opposition to the cutting down of rain forests, the problem continues. Every year, Brazil chops down an area of forest the size of the state of Nebraska. In addition to the Amazon's rain forests, many other forests are being cut down as well. In Indonesia, Zaire, Papua-New Guinea, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Venezuela, rain forests that were once great have been lost. According to some estimates, 50 million acres of rain forest are cut down every year. The United Nations says the figure is closer to 17 million acres. The World Wildlife Fund says that every minute, 25 to 50 acres are cut or burned to the ground. The world's growing population has been a...
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