© Sonja Ritter / WWF
Tropical rainforests

Why are tropical forests so important?

Tropical forests cover just 6% of the planet’s land surface but are some of the richest, most biodiverse places on Earth. They are home to ancient, towering trees and a huge variety of plants, birds, insects and fascinating mammals. A staggering 80% of the world's documented species can be found in tropical rainforests, which makes them a crucial habitat. Their destruction is fuelling the nature crisis. 

These forests have different layers, each with their own important role in sustaining a healthy ecosystem. The scattered gigantic trees form the canopy, where most of the flowering and fruiting takes place which sustains other animals including iconic species like the toucan and sloth. Below this live smaller trees which provide shelter for birds and reptiles, and major predators like the jaguar. Beneath this layer lies the forest floor, which receives very little sunlight but is alive with fungi and insects that play an important role in the wider forest ecosystem. 

These forests are crucial habitats and sources of food for both people and nature. They play an important role in the global water cycle, help tackle climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and provide livelihoods for local communities. 

Two-thirds of global forest cover loss is occurring mainly in the tropics and sub-tropics. Over 43 million hectares, an area roughly the size of Morocco, was lost in these 'deforestation fronts' between 2004 and 2017. 


What is WWF doing? 

WWF is committed to conserving the world's rainforests, not only because of the incredible wealth of plants and animals, but for the benefit of the people who call these forests their home and depend on them for their food, livelihoods and culture.

We have been working to save rainforests for decades, from the tropical forests of Borneo in Southeast Asia to the intact forests in Central Africa to the lush rainforests of the Amazon in South America.

We work with governments, international organizations and businesses, Indigenous peoples and local communities to protect and sustainably manage tropical forests, halt deforestation and forest degradation and restore forests.