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:. . Central America:. . Maya Biosphere Reserve

Tropical rainforests (also referred to here as simply rainforests), such as those in Central America are located throughout tropical regions of the world. Tropical rainforests differ from other types of rainforests in that they receive a significant amount of annual rainfall (usually more than 80 inches). Tropical rainforests are important to humans and the environment for many reasons.

One reason rainforests are important is that although they cover only 5% of the land in the world, they contain at least half of the world’s plant and animal species. For instance, in Central America tropical rainforests are home to the endangered jaguar. Many products people find in their local pharmacies are derived from plants and animals found in the rainforest. These products include insecticides, muscle relaxants, high blood pressure medicine, and medicine for asthma and arthritis.

It is believed that these plants and animals have many more medicinal uses, but these uses have not yet been discovered. Other important products found in rainforests include spices such as ginger, vanilla, and cloves. Fruits (limes, pineapples, oranges, etc.) and various nuts (cashews, peanuts, etc.) can also be found in the rainforest. Finally, various household products are derived from rainforest materials (rope, fabric, furniture, etc.). These products make up only a partial list of the amazing things that come from the tropical rainforests.

In addition to providing a habitat for animals, rainforests also provide a home for indigenous peoples. In tropical regions, indigenous groups that may not have become part of the larger, more modern culture often live in rainforests. Rainforests serve as an important barrier from the outside world. It is interesting to note that many of the pharmaceutical products mentioned above have been used for centuries by these indigenous peoples.

Unfortunately, these valuable tropical rainforests are currently being threatened, because they are being cut down at an alarming rate (see Challenges to the Reserve).


The Maya..| Rainforests..|. Sustainable Development..|..The Maya Biosphere Reserve..|...Challenges to  the Reserve

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