These forests are home to more species than any other terrestrial ecosystem: Half of the world's species may live in these forests, where a square kilometer may be home to more than 1,000 tree species. These forests are found around the world, particularly in the Indo-Malayan Archipelagos, the Amazon Basin, and the African Congo. A perpetually warm, wet climate promotes more explosive plant growth than in any other environment on Earth.
A tree here may grow over 75 feet in height in just 5 years. From above, the forest appears as an unending sea of green, broken only by occassional, taller "emergent" trees. These towering emergents are the realm of hornbills, toucans, and the harpy eagle.
The canopy is home to many of the forest's animals, including apes and monkeys. Below the canopy, a lower understory hosts to snakes and big cats. The forest floor, relatively clear of undergrowth due to the thick canopy above, is prowled by other animals such as gorillas and deer.
All levels of these forests contain an unparalleled diversity of invertebrate species, including New Guinea’s unique stick insects and bird wing butterflies that can grow over one foot in length. These forests are under tremendous threat from man. Many forests are being cleared for farmland, while others are subject to large-scale commercial logging.
An area the size of Ireland is destroyed every few years, largely due to commercial logging and secondary impacts. Such activities threaten the future of these forests are the primary contributor to the extinction of 100-200 species a day on average over the next 40 years (exotics on islands and loss of island habitats are other major factors)
At the current rate of deforestation, more than 17,000 species will go extinct every year, which is more than 1,000 times the rate before man arrived on this planet.