10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green, thinking green:
Study after study has confirmed that global warming is already occurring and that it is caused primarily by human activities. The only uncertainties are how soon and in what ways it will disrupt our existence. Stronger storms? Flooded coastlines? Harsher droughts? More disease? Not to mention that our waterways, food, and air are already polluted to unsound levels in many areas, affecting our health and quality of life every day.
But there is still time to act, and our great-great-grandchildren will thank us for living more sustainably, starting now. Fortunately, many of the steps we can take can actually make our lives better as well.
10 things you can do today that will not only reduce your ecological footprint, but also save you money and help you live a happier, healthier life.
There are several common characteristics of tropical rainforest trees. Tropical rainforest species frequently possess one or more of the following attributes not commonly seen in trees of higher latitudes or drier conditions on the same latitude.
Many tree species have broad, woody flanges (buttresses) at the base of the trunk. Originally believed to help support the tree, it is now believed that the buttresses channel stem flow and its dissolved nutrients to the roots.
Large leaves are common among trees and shrubs of the understory and forest floor layers. Young individuals of trees destined for the canopy and emergent layers may also have large leaves. When they reach the canopy new leaves will be smaller. The large leaf surface helps intercept light in the sun-dappled lower strata of the forest and are made possible because the lower layers are largely protected from winds which damage large leaves in the canopy. Canopy leaves are usually smaller than found in understory plants or are divided to reduce wind damage. The leaves of rainforest understory trees also often have drip tips which facilitate drainage of precipitation off the leaf to promote transpiration and inhibit the growth of microbes and bryophytes which would damage or smother the leaf.
Trees are often well connected in the canopy layer especially by the growth of woody climbers known as lianas or by plants with epiphytic adaptations, allowing them to grow on top of existing trees in the competition for sunlight.
Other characteristics that are more frequent in tropical rainforest tree species than in temperate forests or drier tropical regions include:
Exceptionally thin bark, often only 1-2 mm thick. It is usually very smooth, although sometimes covered with spines or thorns.
Cauliflory, the development of flowers and fruits directly from the trunk, rather than at the tips of branches.
Large fleshy fruits that attract birds, mammals, and even fish as dispersal agents.
Rainforest layers :
The rainforest is divided into five different parts, each with different plants and animals, adapted for life in the particular area. These are: the emergent layer, canopy layer, understory layer, shrub layer, and forest floor. Only the emergent layer is unique to tropical rainforests, while the others are also found in temperate rainforests.
The emergent layer contains a small number of very large trees which grow above the general canopy, reaching heights of 45-55 m, although on occasion a few species will grow to 60 m or 70 m tall. They need to be able to withstand the hot temperatures and dry winds. Eagles, butterflies, bats and certain monkeys inhabit this layer.
Cultivated foods and spices
Coffee, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, papayas, avocados, and sugar cane all originally came from tropical rainforests, and are still mostly grown on plantations in regions that were formerly primary forest. In the mid-80s and 90s, 40 million tons of bananas were consumed worldwide each year, along with 13 million tons of mangoes. Central American coffee exports were worth US$3 billion in 1970. Much of the genetic variation used in evading the damage caused by new pests is still derived from resistant wild stock.
Tropical forests have supplied 250 cultivated kinds of fruit, compared to only 20 for temperate forests. Forests in New Guinea alone contain 251 tree species with edible fruits, of which only 43 had been established as cultivated crops by 1985. The chocolate that comes from the rainforest originates from the cacoa tree where the pods may carry 50-60 seeds. These trees are pollenated by a tiny fly called the midge.
In addition to extractive human uses rainforests also have non-extractive uses that are frequently summarized as ecosystem services. Rain forests play an important role in maintaining biological diversity, modulating precipitation infiltration and flooding, increasing scientific knowledge and in the spiritual well-being of humans. Such ecosystem services are of use to humans without the need for any modification or management of the forest itself.