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Chris with Amazon Lumber. Photo by: Zoe Helene © 2009

Amazon Rainforest Facts
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Amazon Primary Rainforest

“No photo could ever capture the majesty of these trees and the and profound life power of this jungle.” - Zoe Helene

  • The Amazon Rainforest stretches over a billion acres in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and the eastern Andean area of Ecuador and Peru.
  • More than 20% of the world's oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. This has earned the area the name The Lungs of The Planet.
  • The Amazon Basin holds one-fifth of the world's fresh water.
  • Five hundred years ago, an estimated ten million Indians lived in the Amazon rainforest. Today, fewer than 700,000 survive.
  • In Brazil, colonists have destroyed over 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900s. This not only is the destruction of people, but of their cultures, and accumulated knowledge, including that of medicinal plants.
  • Most medicine men and women and shamans remaining in the Amazon Rainforest are 70 years old or more. Each time one dies, a vast body of knowledge is lost.
  • Most of the shamans today do not have apprentices. So when a shaman dies, thousands of years of accumulated knowledge come completely and irreversibly to an end.
  • More than half the world's approximately 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rainforests.
  • Rainforests once covered an estimated 14% of the earth's surface. They now cover less than 6%. At current rates of loss, the rainforests will be completely gone in forty years.
  • One and one-half acres of rainforest land is lost every second. This has far-reaching environmental and economic consequences.
  • Rainforest land is mistakenly valued solely for the worth of its timber, mining, and oil resources by short-sighted corporations and governments.
  • As a result of rainforest destruction, approximately half the world's species of plants, animals and insects will be destroyed in the next 25 years.
  • Due to rainforest destruction, the earth loses an estimated 137 plant, animal and insect species every day. As the rainforest disappears, so do many potentially valuable drugs. Currently 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest materials, but only 1% of these materials have been tested.
  • One hectare (2.47 acres) of rainforest can contain over 750 types of trees, and 1500 species of higher plants.
  • The developed world has derived approximately 80% of its dietary items from rainforests, including items such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit, avocados, coconuts, figs, bananas, guavas pineapples, tomatoes, mangos, corn, potatoes, sugar cane, rice, yams and squash.
  • At least 3000 fruits are found in the rainforests. While only 200 of these are used in the western world, natives consume approximately 2,000.
  • Rainforest plants are rich in secondary metabolites, particularly alkaloids. Many alkaloids from higher plants (such as reserpine, caffeine, and vinblastine) are of medicinal and health value.
  • Currently, over 120 drugs come from plant-derived sources. Of the 3000 plants identified by the US National Cancer Institute as active against cancer cells, 70% come from rainforests.
  • One acre of rainforest timber yields an owner $60. One acre for grazing yields an owner $400. One acre of renewable medicinal plants and fruits yields an estimated $2400.
  • Promoting the use of sustainable and renewable rainforest products can help to stop rainforest devastation. The rainforests are much more valuable alive than cut or burned, providing a steady supply of medicinal plants, fruits, nuts and oils.

Trudie Styler and Husband Sting's Mission to Save the Rainforest

Fox News: Nature's Medicine Cabinet, with Chris Kilham, April 2012

In 1989 when British actress Trudie Styler and her husband musician Sting visited the Amazon, they didn’t know that attempting to save the rainforest from destruction would become a key focus of their own personal activities. Yet 23 years later, the charitable organization they founded – the Rainforest Foundation – has raised over $30 million and has helped to preserve 1.2 million acres of land, much of it in Ecuador...

In this interview, Chris and Trudie discuss shared passions for rainforest preservation, human rights, yoga and meditation. Trudie Styler's Strengthen & Restore Yoga DVD is her latest in a five set series created with GAIAM. It is available at Gaiam.com and Amazon.com, and we highly recommend checking it out! Click here to watch the interview.

World's Biggest Pharmacy May Have Short Shelf-life
NBC Nightly News, with Anne Thompson, Sep 2008

In an effort to find viable economic alternatives to the logging that threatens to decimate the Peruvian Amazon, natives are looking to sell their medicinal plants on the Web. NBC's Anne Thompson reports.

“We are destroying the world's greatest pharmacy. It is very important that we protect the rainforest in everything that we do.” – Chris Kilham, NBC Nightly News