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Conception about Costa Ricas Rainforests !!
I am for the woods against the world, But are the woods for me? ~ The Kiss, Edmund Blunden, 1896-1974One of the biggest misconceptions about the rainforest environment is that it rains all the time. Of course, when it does rain, it rains a lot. The designation “rainforest” has several variations, usually distinguished by vegetation and other characteristics. Rainforests are found in regions of low seasonal variations, with at least 1,800 mm (70 inches) of annual precipitation. Yet one type of rainforest doesn’t get much rain at all. Afamous example is Monteverde, which is a cloud forest. Cloud forests are frequently smothered in moisture-laden clouds, where most of the water comes from the constant drenching of dew.
Another typical characteristic of rainforests is the poor soil in which they thrive. Nutrients that feed the trees come from a sophisticated composting cycle that provides a thin but potent layer of good soil. Once cleared for cattle or farming, the thin soil quickly washes away or is used up, leaving barren ground. What this means is that rainforests cannot be regenerated – they are gone but not forgotten. Only 6% of the world’s rainforests remain and they are disappearing at the rate of over 100,000 acres per day. That’s an area the size of New York State every year!
The tragedy affects us all, even when we live far from the rainforest. They are the lungs of the earth, where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide, and they clean and recycle water. Tropical rainforests support at least half of the world’s plant and animal species.
Apart from being important watersheds, rainforests contain medical compounds that can benefit mankind. For example, more than 70% of the plants known to produce drugs with anti-cancerous properties are tropical. Cures for malaria (quinine) and amoebic dysentery (ipecac) are only two of the hundreds of medicines derived from botanical sources.
Cortisone is another, and so is diosgenin – the active agent in birth control pills – which is derived from wild yams. Since time began, man has used plants as medicine. Indigenous peoples around the world, including the few left in Costa Rica, still use plants and home remedies medicinally with great effect. The rainforest also provides commercial and edible products, such as rubber, vanilla, coconuts, resins, starch, thatch, dyes and bananas. Undoubtedly, there are thousands of new medicines waiting to be found in the rainforest, yet man is cutting them down at a staggering rate.
What a shortsighted legacy for our children. Recently, some agronomists have been theorizing that, because of its topography, volcanic soil and climate, Costa Rica’s lost forests may have a greater ability than other clear- ed rainforests around the world to respond to managed re-growth. Only time will tell.
You’ll probably hear mentioned “primary” forest and “secondary” growth when talking about la selva (the forest). The thick, heavily vegetated woods you see, which may seem as if it should be called virgin forest, has actually been cut and re-grown in the last couple of decades. Primary or virgin forest is rather thin along ground level, its lower level growth restricted by the thick canopy where most of the rainforest life resides.
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