Tropical rainforest is the expression that is constantly used to describe the diverse and complex set of ecosystems that make up the Amazon. There is a great diversity of flora and fauna. A fifth of all the fresh water on the planet is in the Amazon basin of South America.
There are lowland forests called varzea forest (floodplains) which are located on the banks of rivers and firm land. There are also flooded areas, areas which receive strong winds and others that do not. There are also areas with mature trees (primary forest) and other areas recovering after having had trees uprooted, says Kelly Swing, director and founder of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS), of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ).
Swing states that the categorisation of forests depends on the observers perspective. “Some people see the world as a single ecosystem or organism”, says Swing.
In the rainforest, the presence of so many species with their roles and multiple interactions, the Amazon region should be considered as a complex unit that deserves a strong focus on research and the application of optimal protection strategies”, argues the director of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station.
The conservation of ecosystems is of key importance in regulating the Earth. “The cycles of minerals, oxygen and water pass through the world’s ecosystems. Both nature and humans depend on these resources. There are no raw materials that do not come from nature” he says.
When speaking about the Amazon, Swing argues that “the Amazon rainforest is so extensive and its role is particularly important for the planet” the director states.
The intact forest works to a certain level of efficiency in relation to all of this; for instance in the renewal of resources that we would like to use. When exploited, its capacity decreases”, says the director of TBS.
“The flow of energy between the atmosphere and the biota is part of the balance that influences global and local climate. A change in any part of the cycle (introduction of carbon, deforestation, etc.) causes changes in the lives of those who depend on the environment, which also effects the availability of water and agricultural productivity”, mentions Kelly Swing, director of Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS) of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ).
The main functions that the rainforests possess are the production of oxygen and the absorption of carbón dioxide (CO2). “As a carbon storage site, made of wood and leaves, trees are important for the concentration of the air. Another function is the provision of habitats for most flora and fauna on the planet. Eighty per cent of all species are probably living in equatorial regions,” says Swing. As for water, its circulation in the Amazon affects climate (rainfall) in over half the country.