Sunday, May 3, 2009

Why the Amazon Matters:
A Look at Its Planetary Impact

Amazon Quick Facts:

  • The Amazon is the largest and densest rainforest on earth
  • The Amazon covers 2.5 million miles, about the size of the USA west of the Mississippi
  • If Amazonas were a country, it would be the 9th largest on earth
  • Each minute the Amazon River discharges 3.4 million gallons of water into the Atlantic, 14 times the discharge of the Mississippi
  • The Amazon runs 4007 miles from its origin in the Andes to the Atlantic, making it the second longest river on earth
  • During its journey it touches and-or travels through 8 countries
  • There are 200 major tributaries of which 17 are more than 1000 miles long and 10 of which discharge more water than the Mississippi
  • Its vegetation represents about 1/3 of the remaining forest on earth and provides about 15% of the world's new oxygen
  • Scientists have catalogued:
    • 2500 species of fish
    • 1500 species of birds
    • 1800 species of butterflys
    • 4 types of big cats
    • 200 species of mosquitos
    • 50,000 species of higher plants

Rainforest Quick Facts:

Brazil is #1 in bio-diversity, according to International Preservation in 1997:

  • 55,000 plant species (22% of those on earth)
  • 1st for mammals (524 species)
  • 1st for fresh water fish
  • 1st for insects
  • 1st for Macaws and parrots


  • 11 eco-systems, ranging from arid deserts to snow-capped peaks, from forest clad mountainsides to the tropical rainforests of the lowlands which are some of the most extensive on earth and producing the 4th largest rainfall on earth
  • 1st for butterflies (3532 species)
  • 2nd for birds (1710 species)
  • 3rd in both vertebrae species (excluding 2873 fish) and endemic species (350)
  • 4th for mammals (466 species)
  • has the greatest bio-diversity and density of birds on earth:
    • 1780 species of birds
    • 18.5% of all bird species on earth
    • 45% of all Neotropical birds
  • Manu is 1/2 the size of Switzerland; 2/3 is unexplored; 1000 species
  • in the Peruvian cloud forest every 500 meters of elevation produces a new species


  • 1815 species of birds (out of 9000 on earth)
  • more amphibians than Brazil
  • #2 in plant species
  • #3 in reptiles

Ecuador was added to the mega-biodiversity list because of the variety of eco-systems and diversity due to the Galapagos

For more information on how you can help save the Amazon rain forest, check out the WWF site, HERE

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