Rain forests and rain

Written by Thary Gazi Goh
Photos by Goh Shang Ming

A carpet of dense, untouched forest

Ever wonder why it is called a rain forest? Rain forests are important controllers of the water cycle in tropical ecosystems.

Rain forests do 2 important functions with water:

  1. They control the intensity of water. This means that they control how much rain flows into rivers and floodplains. The root systems or rain forests allow water to pass into the soil instead of washing out as surface run off.
  2. They make rain. Rain forests can control how regular the rainfall is, in essence a rain forest produces its own rain. The tall trees of the rain forest take water from their roots and releases it from its leaves, often more than 30m off the ground.
Trees are closely arranged in a rain forest

These rise as fog and mist into clouds that come back down as rain. The rain forest is a living system. It can create more rain when it is too hot or put more water back into the air if there is too much in the ground.

You can actually observe this phenomenon near the forest patches in our cities, clouds of moisture can be seen rising from them, especially in early mornings and rainy days.

Rain forests are important infrastructure that carry out functions that make our lives more livable. We need rain forests to live stable lives.

If someone plans to cut down our power grid to harvest the copper and steel in it, we would think that they are an idiot. However, that is the kind of thinking that goes into our forest management. This is what happens when you view a utility as a single use resource.