Friday, March 30, 2007

Amazon Rainforest

From the east of the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest begins. It is the biggest rainforest in the world and is of great ecological significance, as its biomass is capable of absorbing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide. Conservation of the Amazon Rainforest has been a main issue in recent years.
The rainforest is supported by the extremely wet climate of the Amazon basin. The Amazon, and its hundreds of tributaries, flow gradually across the landscape, with an enormously shallow gradient sending them towards the sea: Manaus, 1,600 km (1,000 mi) from the Atlantic, is only 44 m (144 ft) above sea level.
The biodiversity within the rainforest is extraordinary: the region is home to at least 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2,000 birds and mammals. One fifth of all the world's species of birds can be found in the Amazon rainforest.
The diversity of plant species in the Amazon basin is the highest on Earth. Some experts estimate that one square kilometre may contain over 75,000 types of trees and 150,000 species of higher plants. One square kilometre of Amazon rainforest can contain about 90,000 tons of living plants.