The rainforest in Central Africa alone contains more than 8,000 plant species. More than 2,000 species of butterflies can be found in the South American rainforests. More than 80 percent of flowers found in the rainforests in Australia have never been seen anywhere else.
The tropical rainforest is made up of four layers of vegetation. The emergent layer is the topmost layer of trees, very tall ones that are high above the rest of the vegetation. Birds are among the only animals that live this high up in the rainforest.
The canopy layer is the next layer of tall trees, but they are much denser. These trees shed water quickly and attract vines, insects, butterflies, monkeys and birds. This is where most of the animals live and spend their time when in the trees.
The understory is beneath the canopy layer. It gets little of the light from the sun and is humid because of the density of the canopy layer. This is where some of the brightest plants and insects are found, because camouflage is not required.
The forest floor is bare as far as vegetation is concerned. This is because there is such a small amount of light that gets through the other layers, less than 2 percent. Flightless animals, such as gorillas, elephants, leopards and reptiles live on the forest floor.
Every second, areas as big as football fields are destroyed, taking with them their ecosystems. More specifically, about 2,000 rainforest trees are destroyed every minute. Rainforests cover about 2 percent of the planet, but is a decrease of 50 percent in the past century.
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