• The world's rainforests are vital to life on Earth
  • They are threatened by factors such as farming and agriculture
  • Here's how you can observe World Rainforest Day

World Rainforest Day, observed on June 22, is an opportunity for people to celebrate the valuable natural treasure, raise awareness and advocate for its protection.

This year, the event themed 'Protected Together. Now. Forever' is scheduled for three days -- from June 20 to 22. The days are being commemorated with an agenda to preserve our integral natural resource, rainforests, in peril.

Rainforests are important for the survival of life on Earth. Unfortunately, they are also in danger, as rainforests equivalent to the size of 40 football fields are lost every minute. Factors such as logging, power plants, the paper industry, cattle farming and agriculture continue to threaten their existence. From covering 14% of the land on the planet, rainforests now only cover 6%.

"If the current deforestation rates continue, these critical habitats could possibly disappear from the planet completely within the next hundred years," environmental consultancy firm, WKC Group, said.

On this day, let's look at some important facts people should know about rainforests that will inspire them to take action and protect them. (Courtesy: WKC Group, Mongabay, Rainforest Alliance and National Geographic)

  1. Although they cover less than 10% of the Earth's land, rainforests are home to more than half of the world's terrestrial species.
  2. Rainforests are a natural and powerful climate solution because they store massive amounts of carbon. They also help regulate global temperature as well as local micro-climates.
  3. About a quarter of the ingredients used in modern medicine come from rainforest plants.
  4. Rainforests are essential to maintaining the planet's supply of freshwater. It is estimated that some 15% of the world's freshwater comes from the Amazon basin alone.
  5. More than a quarter of the world's population, about 1.6 billion people, depend on forest resources for their livelihood.
  6. Rainforests are home to about 60 million indigenous people. In New Guinea, for instance, the Korowai people live in tree houses as high as 45 meters off the ground.
  7. About 80% of the flowers in Australian rainforests cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
  8. The largest rainforest in the world is the Amazon rainforest. This is followed by the Congo Basin in South Africa and the rainforest of New Guinea.
  9. Brazil ranks first as the country with the most rainforest cover, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia then Peru.
  10. Some of the pine trees in Tasmania's temperate rainforests can live for 2,000 years.
  11. Tropical rainforests yield some of the world's most valuable woods, including mahogany, rosewood, sandalwood and teak.
  12. Everyday foods that we consume, from coffee and chocolate to cinnamon, coffee beans and bananas, are provided by rainforests.
  13. Practically all of the deforestation is said to stem from human activity, with agriculture and cattle ranching being the biggest drivers. Much of these products aren't consumed locally but sent either overseas or to the cities.

There are some simple yet important things that people can do to help protect rainforests. For instance, they can have meatless meals for a period of time, whether it's once a week, for a month or a year.

They can also donate to organizations dedicated to preserving rainforests, and choose not to use palm oil as they contribute to rainforest clearings. Reducing one's paper and wood consumption are also important, and so is supporting sustainable logging methods.

A boat travels on the Jurura river in Carauari, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, in March 2020 -- the entire region is facing many challenges.
A boat travels on the Jurura river in Carauari, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, in March 2020 -- the entire region is facing many challenges, and now must battle the coronavirus crisis as well AFP / Florence GOISNARD