Amazing Facts

The Wealth of the Rainforests

  1. The Amazon Rainforest covers over a billion acres,
    encompassing areas in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and the
    Eastern Andean region of Ecuador and Peru. If Amazonia were a
    country, it would be the ninth largest in the world.

  2. The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the "Lungs of our
    Planet" because it provides the essential environmental
    world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into
    oxygen. More than 20 percent of the world oxygen is
    produced in the Amazon Rainforest.

  3. More than half of the world's estimated 10 million species of
    plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rainforests.
    One-fifth of the world's fresh water is in the Amazon Basin.

  4. One hectare (2.47 acres) may contain over 750 types of trees
    and 1500 species of higher plants.

  5. At least 80% of the developed world's diet originated in the
    tropical rainforest. Its bountiful gifts to the world include
    fruits like avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons,
    grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos and tomatoes;
    vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash and
    yams; spices like black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon,
    cloves, ginger, sugar cane, tumeric, coffee and vanilla and nuts
    including Brazil nuts and cashews.

  6. At least 3000 fruits are found in the rainforests; of these
    only 200 are now in use in the Western World. The Indians of
    the rainforest use over 2,000.

  7. Rainforest plants are rich in secondary metabolites,
    particularly alkaloids. Biochemists believe alkaloids protect
    from disease and insect attacks. Many alkaloids from higher
    plants have proven to be of medicinal value and benefit.

  8. Currently, 121 prescription drugs currently sold worldwide
    come from plant-derived sources. And while 25% of
    Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients,
    less than 1% of these tropical trees and plants have
    been tested by scientists.

  9. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants
    that are active against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are
    found in the rainforest. Twenty-five percent of the active
    ingredients in today's cancer-fighting drugs come from
    organisms found only in the rainforest.

  10. Vincristine, extracted from the rainforest plant, periwinkle,
    is one of the world's most powerful anticancer drugs. It has
    dramatically increased the survival rate for acute childhood leukemia since
    its discovery.

  11. In 1983, there were no U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers
    involved in research programs to discover new drugs or cures
    from plants. Today, over 100 pharmaceutical companies and
    several branches of the US government, including giants like
    Merck and The National Cancer Institute, are engaged in plant
    research projects for possible drugs and cures for viruses,
    infections, cancer, and even AIDS.

Related Tags: Rainforest  Plants  World  
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