Friday, June 13, 2014

"Lungs of the World" in Singapore

Do you know what is the lungs of the world? Primarily, many refer it to the Amazon Rainforest because it has the largest rainforest in the world though I prefer to call all organisms (including cyanobacteria and phytoplankton) that produce oxygen the lungs of the world.

Today we shall stick solely on the subject "Rainforest".

Do you know that we have a primary rainforest in our very own Singapore Botanical Gardens? Best of all, the guided tours are free! We went for ours during the dry spell in February. The June holidays are here! Why not plan to visit the garden during one of these days? There is a guided tour tomorrow.

Why are rainforest important?

Since we are talking about rainforest on this post, I would like to share the following information with you.

Rainforest cover 6% of the world surface and yet more than half of all known animals species live in the rainforest. Many animals are dependent on rainforest for food.

It is a valuable source of new medicines and food. There are actually plenty of plants and animals in the rainforest which are yet to be discovered. Many of known plant and animal species live in the rainforest.

Rainforest cleans air and water. Plants in the rainforest photosynthesis and hence produce oxygen for the rest of the world. Rainforest produce 40% of Earth's oxygen. It also keeps the planet cool. Without this forest cover, the ground reflects more heat into the atmosphere, warming the rest of the world. Areas where rainforest is cut down, water recycling stops, resulting in drought. Rainforest soil are actually poor in nutrients. The rainforest creates their own supply of nutrients from fallen leaves.

Rainforest prevents soil erosion. Places such as Ethiopia has serious deforestation and is now facing the problem of soil erosion and drought. Look at the advertisement below, an area of a forest is being cleared, soil erosion takes place. The top soil would be washed off to the stream and probably clogs up the gills of fishes and create a murky stream. This is akin to our lungs. When part of the lungs is not working, it affects our body and the way we live. Similarly, when an area of rainforest is cleared and left in this state, the whole ecosystem is hay wired, some valuable flora and fauna may disappear before we even discover them.
Before it 's too late: WWF Source

The Tour

Back to the rainforest tour, these are some photos I have taken during our trip. We brought Little One along. 

Cannonball tree

Banyan tree

Roots of  Banyan Tree growing from thin to thick eventually develop bark

Figs growing pollinated by wasps female lay eggs in figs

Figs growing from the same spots.
Figs are keystone species in rainforest ecosystem. At present, there are 850 species. This is because they fruits throughout the year, providing food for many rainforest animals. Figs are known as 无花果 "fruit without flowers" in Chinese. The actual flowers are in the "fruits" itself. However, only one species of fig wasp pollinate one species of fig plant. Hence, if that species of wasp is being wipe out in that ecosystem, the fig species that it pollinates will be dies off soon after. If that species of fig trees dies off, the rainforest animals will lose a major source of food supply, hence, the ecosystem will be dramatically changed. Note, not all plants fruits all year around. That is how inter-related animals and plants are in the ecosystem.
 Rattan with spikes. The spikes are removed before using for furniture and canes.

The plant that looks like pandan has thorns on the top and this plant is used to make Hawaiian skirt after thorns are removed

 Tongkat Ali

  Jelutong Tree (Chewing Gum tree) The latex from this plant is used in the making of chewing gum. Any tree that is more than 55m is consider a forest tree. This tree can grow approximately  to 60m

The walkway is not fully fenced up so that animals could cross easily to either side, minimising disruption to the rainforest.

Spider web and leaf litter

Lianas contains mostly water(Tarzan's Vines).

 Tall trees have lightning transmitter 

We spotted a couple of spiders

 Strangling Fig.

 St Andrew's Cross Spider (Male)

St Andrew spider (female)

 Rubber Tree- First batch at near Sympony lake .2nd batch near Heritage Centre... 

After reading this post, do you realised a lot of the plants mentioned here are familiar to you? Yes, rainforest actually has a great variety of plants and animals. Do you know that rainforest plants includes coffee, orchids and banana? And even till now, there are many of these plants are yet to be discovered. Scientists has ventured into them to find medicinal cures for current illnesses. I do hope that people who uses the rainforest do not destroy it, make it sustainable. The forest have so much to provide. It is a pity to destroy just like that.

You can do your part to protect the environment.

  1. Watch what you buy.                                                                                                                       Try avoid buying hard wood such as mahogany, teak, rosewood for your furniture. Look out for words such as "sustainable source". Use wood from trees that can grow back quickly after being cut down. Eg Paulownia tree.
  2. Recycle stuff                                                                                                                                    Recycle, reuse whatever you have.
  3. Do not buy exotic animals

If you would like to have a guided tour, you may want to head down to Visitor Centre of the Singapore Botanical Gardens tomorrow and sign up. The available time slots are as follow.
Rainforest Tour
2nd Saturday of Every Month
at 9am, 10am, 11 am and 4pm
If you prefer to DIY, you may want to download this guide

If you are interested in knowing more about deforestations in Ethiopia, you may like to read these websites

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