Why Are Rainforests Important? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Carol PeQueen

Prior to working in a college Elementary Education program, Carol was a 3rd grade teacher. She holds a PhD in Instructional Design.

This lesson introduces the impact of rainforests on many different areas - climate, plants, animals, and humans. It explains how rainforests play a key role in keeping our planet healthy.

Not Just Beautiful

Think about a jaguar's spots. Or the deep blue of a butterfly's wing. Both are examples of amazing animals that live in tropical rainforests. Rainforests have value just for their sheer beauty. But their importance goes much further. Rainforests not only provide benefits to the earth as a whole, they also provide many things that we use. Let's take a closer look at why rainforests are so important.

Rainforest dwellers: jaguar and butterfly
jaguar and butterfly

Take a Deep Breath

Every time you breathe, your body takes in and uses oxygen that's in the air. But where does this oxygen come from? Trees and plants in the rainforests help put oxygen in the air. Then, when you breathe out, your body puts out carbon dioxide. This is what the plants use to help them produce food in the photosynthesis process. So, the plants, including those found in the rainforests, produce oxygen that we need to live and we, in turn, produce carbon dioxide that they need. Talk about teamwork!

Rainforests help more than just Earth's air. They also help to keep our climate, the conditions around you over a period of time, and water systems healthy. Rainforests absorb both tropical heat and moisture, which then gets used by the plants and animals living there. This feature is important because if heat and moisture build up, strong storms like tornados and hurricanes become even stronger. Having a climate that is not too extreme is vital to all kinds of life on Earth, including human life.

Clean water and a healthy climate are vital to all life
water on plant

What Rainforests Provide

If you look around, chances are you will find things that came from a rainforest. Rainforest trees produce beautiful woods like teak and mahogany - popular for making houses, decks, tools, and furniture. Look in the kitchen. From coconuts to cocoa (chocolate), many fruits and vegetables we grow and enjoy came from the rainforest originally. Have you ever snapped a rubber band? Played on a tire swing? Rubber is used in many household products and comes from a rainforest plant. And let's not forget medicine: rainforest plants like the golden trumpet have parts that can heal cuts and make people with diseases like malaria well again.

Tires use rubber, a rainforest product
pile of tires

Protecting Rainforests

When you hear that rainforests need protection, you might think, 'protection from what?' Sadly, because of the rainforests' many useful materials, people are chopping down the trees and clearing out the land where rainforests used to be. This process is called deforestation and it can have disastrous results.

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