Why are rainforests important?

In some areas there is pressure to use rainforest resources to help development but this can lead to resources being exploited in an unsustainable way. Some developers are willing to do anything to make money but there would be long-term negative impacts for the whole planet.

The rainforests are so important because they are home to:

  • oxygen - the rainforest vegetation takes in carbon dioxide and gives out oxygen
  • medicines - a quarter of all natural medicines were discovered here
  • undiscovered species
  • food, eg vanilla, chocolate, nuts, ginger and pepper
  • resources, such as rubber and bamboo
  • wood
  • minerals
  • river networks

The challenge is for the governments of poorer countries to protect large areas of forest. They have difficult decisions to make about how to use their resources.