Forests: Nature at Your Service

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Today – June 5 is the World Environment Day. Your friends Puncha and Panchi continue their explorations at Sinharaja rainforest on this special day – By Malaka Rodrigo
The Sinharaja rainforest is always an interesting experience for the kids who are on the nature trail together with their family and Guide Uncle.“Aiya.. Aiya.. Look – there is a bird like Blu,” Panchi shouted, pointing at a beautiful blue coloured bird flying in the distance.

Puncha too remembered seeing the Blue coloured bird in the film RIO they had watched recently. “Blu is a Macaw and we don’t have them in Sri Lanka,” said Puncha scratching his head. “You are right. Blu is a Spix’s Macaw and they are found only in the Amazon Rainforest. This bird is a Blue Magpie – one of
Sri Lanka’s endemic birds living in the rainforest,” Guide Uncle said “There are many amazing creatures like Macaws that live in the tropical rainforests and they are part of these unique habitats which have lots of moisture,” Guide Uncle explained.

“Tropical Rainforests..? Does it rain all the time here..?” Panchi asked. “Tropical rainforests are forests with tall trees, a warm climate, and lots of rain. In some rainforests it rains more than one inch every day”, explained Guide Uncle. “Rainforests are found in Africa, Asia, Australia and Central and South America.”

“Do you know what is the largest rainforest in the world..?” asked Guide Uncle.“I know.. I know.. It is the Amazon rainforest” , shouted Puncha who had remembered it from a Discovery TV programme.
“Yes – Amazon is the largest rainforest. But rainforests are shrinking very fast. Although they cover less than 2% of the Earth’s surface, rainforests house more than 50% of the world’s plants and animals,” Guide Uncle said.

“Why do rainforests have such a big diversity Guide Uncle..?” questioned Panchi. “Well, rainforests are located in tropical regions where they receive a lot of sunlight throughout year. This sunlight is converted to energy by plants through the process of photosynthesis. Since there is a lot of sunlight, that means there is a lot of energy in the rainforest. This energy is stored in plant vegetation which is eaten by animals. Because there is a lot of food there are many species of plants and animals,” Guide Uncle answered. “The moisturized climate too provides many different habitats for small creatures to live in,” he added.

“So rainforests are more important than other forests? ” was Puncha’s question. “Well, not only rainforests, but all forests are important because of many reasons. Forests provide many important natural resources, such as timber, fuel, rubber, paper and medicinal plants. Forests also help sustain the quality and availability of freshwater supplies”, Guide Uncle elaborated.

“Do you know that more than three quarters of the world’s accessible freshwater comes from forested
catchments that capture water..?? Water quality declines with decreases in forest condition and cover, and natural hazards such as floods, landslides, and soil erosion have larger impacts.”

“I heard forests also help fight against Climate Change,” Puncha said. “Yes, it’s well known that forests play a key role in our battle against climate change. Trees in the forests suck in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their process of making food and store the atmospheric carbon in their body. Carbon dioxide is believed to be a gas that increases Global Warming, so forests help to reduce it,” Guide Uncle explained.

“So forests are indeed nature at your service. Shall we move forward to explore more of the forest..?” said “Guide Uncle taking the kids forward to explore the forest for more amazing phenomena.

Kids, keep an eye on the Funday Times – Puncha and Panchi will explore more of forests in the next few weeks.

Published on FundayTimes on 05.06.2011

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