61 facts you need to know about the rainforest

01 December 2016 | OVO Energy

Did you know that forests cover one-third of the Earth's landmass? How about the fact that 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually? To celebrate and raise awareness of the International Day of Forests, our friends at Cool Earth have put together 61 facts you may or may not know about the rainforest.

The People

  • 1.6 billion people depend on rainforests for their livelihoods
  • 350 million people live in rainforest communities
  • Cool Earth is now working with 113 villages across the world to keep the rainforest standing


  • One rainforest tree can have more than 40 different species of ant in it, more than the number of ant species in the whole British Isles
  • Rainforests are home to two-thirds of all living animal and plant species on the planet, with hundreds of millions of species still undiscovered
  • The rainforest canopy can be more than 40 feet thick
  • One tropical tree can have 4 million flowers
  • We lose 137 species of plants and animals every day because of rainforest destruction
  • Six million different species live in the world’s rainforests
  • A single hectare of tropical rainforests may contain more than 480 species of tree
  • 99% of rainforest species have still to be studied
  • Scientists believe human beings have increased the rate of extinction by 1,000 times - greater than any time in the last 500 million years
  • The world’s largest orchid weighs nearly one tonne and grows to be three metres high and produces 10,000 flowers
  • 63% of a female praying mantis' diet is male praying mantis
  • The world's population of ants weighs the same as the world's population of people
  • 17,500 species have been discovered each year over the last decade. That's around 47 new species every single day
  • 3,000 amphibians have been discovered in the last 25 years
  • Peru has the greatest butterfly biodiversity in the world, with more than 4,000 native species. The whole of Europe has just 400 species
  • 16% of animals in Peru are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world
  • 8% of Peru’s animals are listed as endangered
  • There are a staggering 6,800 species of tree in Peru
  • Cool Earth’s projects are keeping 120 million trees standing


  • The Amazon rainforest provides a 20% of the world’s fresh water as well as a fifth of the world’s oxygen
  • The Amazon River pumps out enough water each day to provide New York City’s water needs for nine years
  • The Amazon forest releases 20 billion tonnes of moisture into the atmosphere every day - equivalent to 8,000,000 swimming pools!
  • Each acre of rainforest produces 76,000 tonnes of water per year
  • A rainforest tree produces 324 litres of water a year
  • Cool Earth’s project areas release 38 billion litres of water into the atmosphere annually
  • It can take a raindrop 10 minutes to fall through the dense rainforest canopy
  • 15 million years ago the Amazon River flowed West into the Pacific, not East into the Atlantic as it does today
  • No bridge crosses the Amazon river, despite being the largest river in the world today and greater than the next seven largest rivers combined
  • Eight trillion tonnes of water evaporates from the Amazon annually – 4,000 times the water needs of the US over an entire year
  • The Amazon River is 6,516 kilometres long with 500 tributaries making it the widest and most voluminous river in the world
  • Less than 1% of the world's water is fresh and accessible with 70% of this going on growing crops
  • The freshwater from the Amazon River flows 125 miles out to sea before mixing with the salt water from the Atlantic. Early sailors could drink the freshwater out of the ocean before even sighting the South American continent
  • If the Amazon was a country it would be the ninth largest in the world


  • The world’s forests store 638 gigatonnes of CO2
  • Rainforests are made of carbon. When the forest is destroyed, this carbon is released as climate warming CO2
  • Deforestation accounts for more CO2 than the entire USA - a staggering six billion tonnes each year
  • In the next 24 hours deforestation will release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as eight million people flying from London to New York
  • One tropical tree can store up to 30 tonnes of CO2. That’s around three times the amount one person emits in a year
  • Rainforests are the world’s single biggest “carbon sink”, holding as much as 50% of the Earth’s carbon
  • Tropical Forests can absorb 4.8 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, up to 10% of annual man-made GHG emissions
  • When an acre of rainforest is burnt, this results in 260 tonnes of CO2 emissions - equivalent to what 10,000 people would emit in a day
  • Saving one acre of rainforests stores the amount of CO2 emitted by driving a car 800,000 miles - around the world 32 times
  • If you picture the Earth the size of a football, the bulk of the atmosphere would be no thicker than a sheet of paper wrapped around the ball
  • Deforestation produces 17% of all man-caused greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transport sector
  • Healthy rainforests absorb up to 10% of man’s carbon emissions each year
  • Cool Earth’s projects are locking in 130 million tonnes of CO2


  • The global rate for deforestation is 32 million acres every year
  • 10.6 acres of forest are lost in South America each year
  • 9.9 million acres of forest in Africa are lost each year
  • 25 million acres of tropical rainforest are lost per year
  • 68,000 acres of tropical forest are lost each day
  • 2,853 acres of tropical forest are lost each hour
  • 48 acres of tropical forest are lost each minute
  • 2.5 acres of tropical forest are lost every 3 seconds
  • Rainforests once covered 14% of the world’s land surface, today they cover just 6%
  • Since 1990 Peru has lost 2,773,810 acres of primary rainforest

OVO Foundation

OVO and Cool Earth began working together back in 2010. Since then, we’ve also set up a charitable arm called OVO Foundation to do more good in the areas we feel most passionate about – youth poverty, education and energy access. All our energy now goes into supporting inspiring organisations with smart ideas, launching pioneering projects and volunteering 1,000s of hours of our time each year to help local communities.

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