The Amazon rainforest is believed to have been formed during the Eocene Era some 55 million years ago. The rainforest encompasses 40 percent of the South American continent, extending across eight countries. The Amazon includes the drainage basin of the Amazon River, the world’s largest river by volume, with over 1,100 tributaries. The biodiversity of plants in the Amazon is considered the greatest on Earth, with as many as 80,000 plant species. Seventy five percent are endemic and can only be found in the Amazon. Many plant species in the rainforest serve as traditional medicine for the indigenous people. At least 41 different plant species in the Amazon in Brazil treat varying degrees of malaria, one of the tropics’ most fatal diseases. The native people also use the plants and trees as an important source of food and raw material for non-timber forest products.
Did you know that the Amazon rainforest is known as the “lungs of the Earth?” Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the health of the Amazon and the health of our planet. An estimated 16,000 tree species and 390 billion individual trees exist in this amazing jungle. Moreover, 40,000 of the plant species found in the Amazon rainforest are known to play a critical role in regulating the global climate. However, this crucial life-sustaining rainforest is threatened by deforestation and global warming. “All the evidence points to that direction: ‘that if we stop animal raising our planet will cool down.’”