Kids Can Help Save The Rainforest
By Crede Calhoun
Chief Guide for Camp Earth and Owner of Windrushonline Art Gallery

Rainforests are very important to the health of the earth and all life. They are far away from us here in Maryland but we have to try and save them. One of the sad things about rainforests is that when they are destroyed the land turns into desert. This process is called desertification. Unlike our forest that grow back when we cut them, the rainforest never comes back after being destroyed...it is lost forever.

You can do many things to help rainforests. One of the most important things you can do is help raise awareness about the destruction of rainforests by getting the word out to other students and adults as to the dangers facing the rainforests plants and animals. You could do this by helping to start class projects or competitions. How about an art project where kids make drawings and paintings that show animals and plants of the rainforest? Maybe even drawings that include some words that tell facts or dangers facing the rainforest. Did you know that 75% of Australia's rainforests have been destroyed.

How about a coloring competition using this coloring page. (click on the picture to get a big one to color). You can either print the picture out and have a go at coloring it by hand or why not save it on your computer and then open it up in paint shop pro, Corel draw, paint or another painting package and color it by computer. After kids have colored the page they can display them somewhere in the school.

Other projects include decorating your classroom with Quetzel birds. You can down load some graphics of these birds to color here. How about a rainforest coloring book.

Orangutans (or "orangs" for short) are the world's largest tree-dwelling animals! Living exclusively in Borneo and Sumatra of Southeast Asia, orangutans (meaning "man of the jungle" in Malay) belong to the great ape family whose members also include chimpanzees and gorillas. They are very endangered. Maybe you could start a save the orangutan club at school. The Orangutan Foundation has lots of ideas. Join the Orangutan Foundation International. Students can join for only $15 a year- that's less than 30Ę a week. They will send you their newsletter Pongo Quest. The foundation spends the funds we collect on things like food and medicine for rescued baby orangutans.

Become a Foster Parent to one of the orangutans under OFIís care in Indonesian Borneo. They have a program for you or for your class. For $75 a year, you can help buy food, medicine and care for the orangutan babies learning to live freely in the forest. You or your class will receive a photo and biography of your foster orangutan and a certificate naming you or your class a foster parent to one of the orangutans. You will also receive a year's membership to the Foundation. Ask your parents or your teacher about participating in this program.


Amy, a rescued Orangutan.

Another thing you could do is help people in rainforests help protect their environment from destruction. You can do this by organizing letter writing campaigns. A great website to get involved with this is called Global Response. The earth is not dying it is being killed and the people doing it have names and addresses. Get involved and let these people and governments know how you feel about what they are doing

Writing letters doesn't seem like much but it does help and has made a difference. To read about success stories GO HERE. Maybe your class can pick a problem from the Global Response website and start writing letters today!

Here are a few more things you can do to help rainforests. Courtesy of Kids Action Network.

1. Use less paper. Since most paper comes from trees, using less paper can help save the rainforests. Use recycled 100% post-consumer waste (PCW) paper whenever possible. Better yet, use tree-free paper. Tree-free paper uses no trees--it is made from plants like kenaf, or from farmers' leftovers like corn stalks and wheat straw. If paper is 100% PCW or tree-free, it will say so on the package. If it doesn't say "recycled" or "tree-free" that means it most likely isn't. You can ask your stationery store to carry tree-free paper, or call Vision Paper at (505) 294-0293 to find out where to get tree-free paper in your area. Remember to save paper by writing on both sides of the sheet, and by using half-sheets and scratch paper whenever you can. And remember to always recycle.

Another way to use less paper is to use a lunch pail or canvas sack for your school lunches, and take a canvas bag to the grocery store instead of using a paper or plastic bag. Use cloth napkins at home and at school instead of paper napkins, and use cloth towels to dry your hands or wipe up spills instead of paper towels. If you must use paper napkins or towels, use only one at a time instead of grabbing a handful.

2. Use less gasoline and plastic. Gasoline and plastic are two things that are made from petroleum, or oil. A lot of oil comes from the rainforests through a process called extraction. Since oil extraction is very harmful to the rainforests, using less oil products can help save the rainforests. Instead of using gasoline to drive somewhere in a car, ride your bike, walk, carpool, or take the bus whenever possible. Also make sure your family's car tires are inflated properly since low air in tires uses more gas than is necessary.

Reduce the amount of plastic you use by choosing glass bottles and containers whenever possible and by re-using the plastic containers and bottles that you already have. If you have a plastic water bottle, do not throw it out and buy a new one. Instead, rinse it thoroughly and refill it again and again.

3. Eat less red meat. One big reason rainforests are being destroyed is for beef. Millions of acres of rainforest are slashed and burned, which means that the land is set on fire in order to clear it. The cleared land is then turned into grass pastures for cows. These cows get butchered and are often sent to the United States to be put into fast-food hamburgers, frozen meat products, and canned pet food. For every quarter-pound fast-food hamburger that comes from the rainforest, 55 square feet of rainforest is destroyed. That is the size of a small kitchen! And that's just for one hamburger!

When ordering food at restaurants, find items on the menu that do not contain beef. Ask your parents to help you create a list of healthy foods that you can eat at home that do not contain beef. When choosing pet food for your dog or cat, choose a flavor that isn't beef. By reducing the amount of beef you choose to eat, you are doing a lot to help save the rainforests!

4. Fundraise for the rainforest! Raising money to help protect rainforest land is easy and important. You can join together with kids from your classroom or neighborhood to hold a popcorn or lemonade sale, a car wash, a rainforest play, a rummage sale, or to collect aluminum cans to recycle for cash. Another way to raise money for the rainforests is to just ask 5 or 10 people you know if they will give one dollar for the rainforests. If ten of you each ask five people for one dollar, you've just raised 50 dollars! Write to Rainforest Action Network for other ideas on how to fundraise for the rainforest.

The money you collect can go to Rainforest Action Network's Protect-An-Acre program. This is a program that gives money to the native people that live in the rainforest so they can protect the land they live on. Since they've lived in the rainforest for thousands of years, they care very much about their rainforest home, and want to protect it from destruction.

For every $25 or more Protect-An-Acre donation, you will receive a Protect-An-Acre certificate thanking you for helping protect rainforest land. Send donations to: RAN Protect-An-Acre, 221 Pine St. #500, San Francisco, CA 94104. Remember to include your name and address so we can thank you!

There are lots of things you can do. Raising money and sending it to threatened rainforests or organizations fighting to protect rainforests can help a lot. Here is a list of fundraising activities you can do to help raise money for the protection of rainforests.

Get bold and start to help the rainforests today. The plants and animals that live there need your help and its never to late to start. Thank you!

Some More Links to Children's Rain Forest Projects and Fun Stuff

 

My daughter Caileigh Raine Calhoun at the Cleveland Zoo Rainforest. It's a Jungle in There! The RainForest's two indoor acres is home to more than 600 animals representing 118 different species (not including thousands of insects and other invertebrates). It showcases 10,000 live flowers, trees, and shrubs of 360 different varieties all native to one of the three major tropical rain forests represented in the exhibit - Africa, Asia and South America.

Sounds of the Rainforest
Listen to sounds of the rain forest. Did you know that Puerto Rico rainforest is home to 16 species of frogs.

Great Site with Links to Kids Rainforest Sites

First International Children's Rainforest
42,000 acres of beautiful cloud forest in Costa Rica. It is managed by the Monteverde Conservation League with money raised by children and their supporters all over the world, and is home to a huge range of plants, animals, insects and birds.

The Bridge Project, Rico Rainforest, Costa Rica
This is quite a complex project to precis. Run by the Area de Conservation Guanacaste under the control of the internationally respected ecologist Professor Dan Janzen of the University of Pennsylvania, it is a land and forest purchase project in the northern highlands of Costa Rica linking the established Reserve of Santa Rosa in the Pacific lowlands with the National Parks of Guanacaste and Rincon de la Vieja. This provides a continuous bridge or corridor of forest from the Pacific lowland dry gallery forest to the highland cloud forests. Such a corridor is considered vitally important in this narrow neck of Central America both for long distance bird immigrants, and for altitudinal migration of birds, mammals and insects.