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Rainforest conservation research

Rainforests cover just 2% of the earth’s surface yet are home to about half of the world's 5 to 10 million plant and animal species. Many of the foods we eat today originated in rainforests and about a quarter of all medicines available contain natural ingredients derived from rainforest plants. Rainforests also play a major role in stabilising the world's climate.

Global warming is predicted to increase global surface temperatures by 1.5°C by 2100, and this is expected to drive many species to extinction. Rainforest species are often restricted to specific habitats and are unable to adapt or move in response to these predicted changes.

Global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires to which many rainforest species are poorly adapted. Unsustainable logging, urban and agricultural development into rainforest areas will further impact on rainforest viability. This is leaving many rare and threatened flora and fauna species vulnerable to extinction due to the rarity of their rainforest habitat1.

  1. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland.

Content developed by Zoe-Joy Newby, Patricia Meagher, Cathy Offord, Karen Sommerville, Rob Kooyman and Maurizio Rossetto, editing by Amelia Martyn Yenson. Page last updated in 2018.