Equatorial Forest: Climate, Vegetation, Wildlife and Regions

The Equatorial jungle Or macrothermic is the one that unfolds throughout the equatorial zone in response to a uniform and humid climate, which is continuously warm, not exposed to frost or cyclonic rains and has abundant rainfall every month of the year presenting at most only one Or two months of drought.

Equatorial rainforests are characterized by more than 2,000 mm of annual rainfall. These forests have the most abundant diversity of the planet, presenting 50% of the existing biodiversity. The equatorial forests have a well-developed form of arboreal canopy vegetation and are the winter home of a large number of birds.

Equatorial Forest: Climate, Vegetation, Wildlife and Regions

Approximately two-thirds of the world's tropical humid forests can be considered as equatorial. The largest extensions of the equatorial forest are found in the lowlands of the Amazon, part of Central America, the Congo basin and the African coast of the Gulf of Guinea and the islands of Southeast Asia of Indonesia.

About 200 years ago, rainforests covered 10% of the Earth's surface. This has declined to about 6% coverage today. However, about 50% of all living organisms on Earth are in the equatorial zone.


The climate is characteristically Infratropical and Termotropical Pluvial. Regions with this climate experience high temperatures throughout the year and the heat causes convective storms every afternoon.

The average monthly temperatures are 26 to 28 degrees Celsius and can reach 35 degrees Celsius. The range of annual temperature difference is very small, and may be only 3 degrees Celsius, although the range between the highest temperature in the day and the lowest temperature at night is usually higher.

The humidity is usually quite high. Near the equator, the intense entrance of solar energy originates the zone of intertropical convergence, a strip of convection of ascending air that loses its humidity with the intense and frequent precipitations.


In the equatorial regions, the heavy rainfall generates the growth of flora throughout the year. These forests are characterized by very dense vegetation. Four square miles of rainforest can hold up to 750 species of trees and 1,500 species of flowering plants.

Rainforests cover only 6 percent of the Earth's surface, but these rainforests house about half of the world's known animal species, providing about 40 percent of the planet's oxygen.

In the equatorial forests we can find between 40 and 100 tree species per hectare and fúlcreas roots of up to 9 meters of height.

The landscape offers abundant amount of lianas interweaved in the branches and the trunks of the trees and in this type of forests exist the hemiepífitos or lianas killer.

Some trees such as kapok can reach more than 61 meters in height and, due to the coating provided by the canopy, very little is the sunlight that reaches the lower layers of the equatorial forest. Under the canopy we can find the underbrush where the sunlight is also limited.

In the equatorial forests, one can find a layer of litter that occupies the forest floor, a layer that due to humidity and high temperatures decompose rapidly. Their nutrients are returned to the soil where they are absorbed by the roots of plants. In this way, nutrients are recycled quickly and efficiently in this type of rainforest.

The trees of the equatorial forest have been adapted to the high temperatures and the intense precipitations of this region. Very often the trees have pointed peaks called drip tips which allow the rain to drain quickly. Trees in these forests do not need to have a thick crust to prevent moisture loss, so the bark is usually thin and smooth.


Most of the animals that inhabit the equatorial forests are invertebrates, insects, arachnids like spiders and scorpions and worms. There are about 500,000 species of beetles in these jungles.

In the Amazon jungle we can find 3,000 known species of fish and it is said that there may be a large number of fish still unknown in this jungle.

There is a great variety of herpetofauna made up of reptiles such as snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles and alligators, and a large number of amphibians such as salamanders, newts, frogs and toads.

We also find a hundred mammals such as jaguars, pumas, gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons and colobos, as well as elephants, hippos and manatees.

Regions of the equatorial forest

Regions-equatorial jungle

The forest of the Congo Basin

It is the largest block of rainforest in Africa located in the Congo Basin, forming a basin-shaped horseshoe made up of sedimentary rocks that overlap an ancient pre-basement layer of the basement.

Most of the basin is below 1000 meters of altitude, with a flat or gently undulating topography and large swampy areas. The Congo River drains the basin westward into the Gulf of Guinea, across the Gabon coastal plain.

While nine countries (Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia) have part of their territory in the Congo Basin, only six countries in this region are Associated with the Congo rainforest (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea and Gabon).

The forests of the Congo basin grow essentially on soils with a moderate level of nutrients (at least in forest soils). In the center of the Basin there are extensive areas of swamp forest and swamp and some of these areas are uninhabited and mostly unexplored.

The Congo rainforest is known for its high levels of biodiversity, including over 600 species of trees and 10,000 species of animals.

Tropical forests of West Africa

To the northwest, a strip of rainforest continues to the highlands of Cameroon, and along the northern coast of the Gulf of Guinea. After a gap of several hundred kilometers in the driest region between Togo and Benin, the rainforest appears and extends as far as the Atlantic coast.

In the Rift Valley region, the forest is mainly limited to mountain slopes. A notable feature of the African equatorial rainforest region is its dryness. Only in the wettest parts of Cameroon's highlands do they compare with the rainfall of the vast areas of the Amazon. They are jungles rich in deciduous trees in their upper stratum. These forests tend to be more humid in the highlands of Zaire and Cameroon, areas where there are few epiphytes and few palm trees.

Due to agricultural expansion, much of the natural forest cover has been lost in West Africa and the same consequences are beginning to be experienced in Cameroon.

Forests of Madagascar

Madagascar is a micro-continent that was separated from the eastern part of Africa at some point during the Jurassic period and is thus reflected in its flora and fauna, plus a large number of plants and animals of Asian groups.

In the eastern part of the island, we find a high level of endemism (about 85% of the species of plants are unique in the island). A group of plants that has diversified strongly in Madagascar are the palms and we can find about 12 genera endemic to palm trees.

The orchids are very diverse in the forest of Madagascar reaching almost 1000 species, being the most remarkable species the Agraecum sesquisedale Of white flower.

Sadly, the flora and fauna of the Madagascar rainforest suffer a high level of destruction by the hand of man, being a great variety of giant flying birds and lemurs destroyed by the indiscriminate hunting.

The population of humans on the island of Madagascar is growing at an accelerated rate and the destruction of the jungle is occurring so fast that it is causing a lot of extinctions.

Rainforests of the Amazon and Orinoco

The Amazon is considered the"lung where the world breathes, the great ecological giant of the planet". Approximately 20% of the earth's oxygen is produced in this jungle.

Its name is related to the one of the Amazon river, river that constitutes the vital force of this tropical forest. The Amazon River is born in the Peruvian Andes, and zigzags to the east through the northern half of South America.

It meets the Atlantic Ocean in the Belem region of Brazil. Twenty-eight billion gallons of river water flows into the Atlantic every minute, diluting the salinity of the ocean more than 100 miles from the coast.

The Amazon basin is home to the highest level of biodiversity on planet earth. Amazonian forests develop under a humid climate. In the more humid parts of the region, with annual rainfall above 2000 mm and without a strong dry season, the forest is higher and more species rich.

There are three types of forests in the Amazon region: marsh forests, lianas forests and palm forests.

The equatorial jungle of the Atlantic

Along the Atlantic coastal strip of southeastern Brazil is a long belt of equatorial jungle. Separated from the main Amazonian block by hundreds of kilometers of dry scrub and savannah, the Atlantic forest has a high proportion of endemic species and is one of the most threatened forests in existence.

The climate is more varied than that of the Amazon jungle, fluctuating from tropical to subtropical. Approximately 8% of the plant species in the world are located in this forest where we find more than 20 thousand species that are not found anywhere else in the world.

About 264 species of mammals inhabit these forests, there are also recorded some 936 species of birds and about 311 species of reptiles.

Tropical rainforests of the Caribbean

To the north of the Amazon jungle block, many of the islands that belong to the Caribbean Basin are partially or totally protected by the rainforest.

The climate over most of this region is quite dry. These Caribbean forests are less rich in species than those of the South American jungles.

Among the tree species found in the Caribbean forests, there is a great analogy with the tropical forests of South America and Central America and a large part of the species are also shared with the continent.

Tropical rainforests

In western Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, there is a thin strip of rainforest that extends parallel to the coast. These forests are close to the Amazonian forests of the east, so they are many of the same genera of plants that are present to the East, however they often belong to different species.

The relief consists of small hills, numerous gorges and two main rivers, the Tumbes and the Zamurilla. The climate is generally humid exceeding 25 degrees Celsius, the soils are alluvial and the vegetation is composed of trees that exceed 30 meters in height and the highest are covered with epiphytes (bromeliads and orchids) and lianas.

The fauna is of Amazonian origin and we can find several types of primates, boas, pumas and jaguars. Among the birds we can find the stork, the royal condor and the hawk.

Malaysia's rainforest

Rainforests in Malaysia include several types, depending on geographic, climatic and ecological influences. On the island of Borneo, the cloud forests are cold and humid. Lowland rainforests in Borneo, for example, often face similar but less diverse peat bogs. The rainforests of the Malay Peninsula contain about 6,000 species of trees.

The Taman Negara rainforest in Malaysia is the oldest on the planet with about 130 million years. Taman Negara, which was declared National Park in 1983, extends through Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang and occupies an area of ​​4343 square kilometers.

The impressive diversity of wildlife in Malaysian rainforests includes large animals that biologists call"charismatic megafauna".

Among them we find the orangutan, a primate that inhabits the lowland forests of Borneo or the Malayan tiger, which has disappeared from the great part of its habitat. Smaller animals include mountain pheasant, peacock, endemic to the Malay Peninsula and flying foxes (Pteropus vampyrus).

Important facts about the equatorial forest

  • About 70% of the plants identified by the National Cancer Institute of the United States that can be used in the treatment of cancer are found in the equatorial forests.
  • A wide variety of wildlife including snakes, frogs, birds, insects, pumas, chameleons, turtles or jaguars are found in rainforests equatorial.
  • It is estimated that between 5% and 10% of species in the equatorial forest will be extinguished every decade.
  • Approximately 57% of the equatorial forests are found in developing countries.
  • More than 56,000 square miles of natural forests are lost each year.
  • Insects make up most of the living things in the equatorial jungle.
  • Due to large-scale deforestation, only 2.6 million square miles of jungles remain.
  • Tropical forests are constantly destroyed by multinational logging companies, landowners and governments to make way for new human settlements and industries.
  • The trees in the equatorial forests are usually so dense that it takes about 10 minutes for the rain to reach the ground from the canopy.
  • Approximately 80% of the flowers found in Australian rainforests are found nowhere in the world.
  • A fragment of jungle equivalent to 86,400 football fields are destroyed every day.
  • More or less 90% of the 1.2 billion people living in poverty depend on the rainforests to survive.
  • Much of the oxygen we have is supplied by forests in the equatorial forests, even though they are miles away.
  • The average temperature of the rainforest is maintained between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
  • Wood, coffee, cocoa and many medicines are produced by tropical forests.
  • There are several different types of animals that can be found in the equatorial jungle. Most of them could not live anywhere else because they depend on the environment of the rainforest for their basic needs.
  • The largest rainforest on the planet is the Amazon rainforest.
  • Less than 1% of the plants of the equatorial forests have been analyzed to determine their value in the world of medicine.
  • Equatorial forests are threatened every day by practices such as agriculture, livestock, logging and mining.
  • About 1/4 of the natural medicines have been discovered in rainforests.
  • Within four square miles of rainforest, you will find 1500 species of flowering plants, 750 types of trees, and many of these plants may be useful in the fight against cancer.
  • Rainforests help regulate the weather patterns of planet Earth.
  • A fifth of all fresh water is found in the equatorial jungles, in the Amazon basin to be exact.
  • Equatorial forests help maintain our potable water supply, so they are critical to sustainability.


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