Of all natural habitats on earth, rainforests have some of the highest biodiversity. This means that they hold the largest ranges of plant and animal species; a single section of rainforest may have a higher biodiversity than an entire temperate forest.
With such a large ecosystem, rainforests are sources of massive advances in medicine; such as the rosy periwinkle, or Catharanthus roseus, which provides combatants for cancer. Rainforests also provide a means of flood control, absorbing and intercepting rain and floodwater, reducing the potential of destructive flash-floods that may be experienced in the rainy season.
Unfortunately, as many might have heard, rainforests are being depleted incredibly quickly, and we are losing some of the most significant opportunities we have, in multiple fields.
This is why, as travellers or tourists, we must be very careful when visiting rainforests. Harmful practices such as littering can have very bad effects on the rainforest; various chemicals from products may also cause harm to the ecosystem, killing plants and animals.
As with many natural habitats, if we want to enjoy a visit to the rainforest in its fullest, we must be sure to tread lightly, and make as little noise as possible so that we do not scare away any animals. But remember, rainforests are hot and humid, and teeming with insects, so tolerating some discomfort with good humour may be required!
When visiting a rainforest, the main harm one might do short of cutting down the trees, starting a fire, or poaching and displacing animals, is littering. However, it is our actions outside of a rainforest that matter the most in conserving this precious habitat. As many might know, one of the main reasons for deforestation is for the production of paper. We should be as careful and frugal as possible in our use of paper (tissue paper counts!). Some tips are to always try and use double sided printing, use recycled paper and recycle used and unneeded paper.
If we are careless, we needlessly contribute to the destruction of the rainforest; not only infringing on the rights of plants and animals on us, but also on the rights of its people. By being careful and conserving the rainforest as much as our lives allow, we are helping to fulfil our responsibilities to the environment, and conserving this habitat for future travellers and research.