(redirected from Primary Rainforest)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.


dense forest found in tropical areas of heavy rainfall. The trees are broad-leaved and evergreen, and the vegetation tends to grow in three layers (undergrowth, intermediate trees and shrubs, and very tall trees, which form a canopy)


Forests that occur in continually wet climates with no dry season. There are relatively small areas of temperate rainforests in the Americas and Austral­asia, but most occur in the tropics and subtropics.

The most extensive tropical rainforests are in the Americas. These were originally 1.54 × 106 mi2 (4 × 106 km2) in extent, about half the global total, and mainly in the Amazon basin. A narrow belt also occurs along the Atlantic coast of Brazil, and a third block lies on the Pacific coast of South America, extending from northern Peru to southern Mexico.

Tropical rainforests have a continuous canopy (commonly 100–120 ft or 30–36 m tall) above which stand huge emergent trees, reaching 200 ft (60 m) or taller. Within the rainforest canopy are trees of many different sizes, including pygmies, that reach only a few feet. Trees are the main life form and are often, for purposes of description and analysis, divided into strata or layers. Trees form the framework of the forest and support an abundance of climbers, orchids, and other epiphytes, adapted to the microclimatic conditions of the different zones of the canopy, from shade lovers in the gloomy, humid lower levels, to sun lovers in the brightly lit, hotter, and drier upper levels. Most trees have evergreen leaves, many of which are pinnate or palmate. These features of forest structure and appearance are found throughout the world's lowland tropical rainforests. There are other equally distinctive kinds of rainforest in the lower and upper parts of perhumid tropical mountains, and additional types on wetlands.

Rainforests occur where the monthly rainfall exceeds 4 in. (100 mm) for 9–12 months. They merge into other seasonal or monsoon forests where there is a stronger dry season (3 months or more with 2.5 in. or 60 mm of rainfall). The annual mean temperature in the lowlands is approximately 64°F (18°C). There is no season unfavorable for growth.

Primary rainforests are exceedingly rich in species of both plants and animals. There are usually over 100 species of trees 2.5 in. (10 cm) in diameter or bigger per 2.4 acres (1 ha). There are also numerous species of climbers and epiphytes. Flowering and fruiting occur year-round, but commonly there is a peak season; animal breeding may be linked to this. Secondary rainforests are much simpler. There are fewer tree species, less variety from location to location, and fewer epiphytes and climbers; the animals are also somewhat different. See Ecological succession

Tropical rainforests are a source of resins, dyes, drugs, latex, wild meat, honey, rattan canes, and innumerable other products essential to rural life and trade. Modern technology for extraction and for processing has given timber of numerous species monetary value, and timber has come to eclipse other forest products in importance. The industrial nations use much tropical hardwood for furniture, construction, and plywood. Rainforest timbers, however, represent only 11% of world annual industrial wood usage, a proportion that has doubled since 1950. West Africa was the first main modern source, but by the 1960s was eclipsed by Asia, where Indonesia and Malaysia are the main producers of internationally traded tropical hardwoods. Substantial logging has also developed in the neotropics. See Forest ecosystem


A forest of broad-leaved, mainly evergreen, trees found in continually moist climates in the tropics, subtropics, and some parts of the temperate zones.
References in periodicals archive ?
The other major threats concerned two primary rainforests that the pipeline would pass through - Deng Deng Forest in East Province and the Atlantic Littoral Forest on the coast.
Although Sarawak still has 60 per cent forest cover, much of that has been selectively logged and is not primary rainforest.
The telecommunications provider committed to donate P30 million within a 5-year period to cover 300 hectares of denuded primary rainforests in Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur.
The 300 hectares of denuded primary rainforests, that will be covered by Globe Telecom's financial support, form part of the 4,896 hectares total target area of "rainforestation" by Hineleban Foundation in Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur.
Summarizes Carl Ross, director of Save America's Forests, "The IMF pressured Ecuador to build the OCP pipeline, then pressured Ecuador to create a system where the vast majority of the pipeline profits go to paying off the debt, and is now pressuring Ecuador to open up its primary rainforests to fill the pipeline.
The construction of the OCP pipeline has created an unprecedented cumulative threat to the primary rainforests of the Yasuni region," says Carlos Fiallo from the Ecuadorian environmental group Action for Life.
The leading telecommunications provider committed to donate P30 million within a 5-year period to cover 300 hectares of denuded primary rainforests in Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur.
Between this dead-end and where the Pan-American resurfaces 107 kilometers away in Colombia, lies approximately 20,000 square kilometers of primary rainforests, 6,500 square kilometers of which are legally owned by indigenous peoples.
One noteworthy chapter focuses on deforestation on the island of Palawan, the Philippines' "last frontier" and home to the country's largest tracts of primary rainforests.