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How to Describe a Rainforest in Creative Writing

Most of us have been there. We have walked through a rainforest, its thick canopy blocking out all the light and its air saturated with the smell of tropical plants. The sounds are so different from the noises of the city that surround us. Suddenly we are no longer disconnected from nature, as the calls of birds and the rustle of leaves remind us of home.

But how do you describe that experience in words?

Whether you have been to a rainforest or not, the opportunity to write about it is a gift. You could use your creative writing skills to communicate your emotions and the feelings of being in a rainforest to the reader. You could imagine how it would look, what the air would be like, and evoke images of all the wonderful plants and animals that you saw. You could bring to life your impression of a rainforest in words.

So how does one go about writing about a rainforest?

The Anatomy Of A Rainforest

There is a considerable amount of descriptive writing that goes into describing a rainforest, and it can be rather technical. To give you an idea of what to expect, here is a short description of the anatomy of a rainforest, put together by the government of Panama:

  • The forest canopies, also known as the rainforest canopies are the spaces in-between the trees, filled with plants and ferns. They can reach up to 60 feet in height and allow in plenty of sunlight which reaches the forest floor. The plants here need lots of room to grow and sunlight to provide them with nutrients.
  • The forest floor is often known as the jungle floor and is a dense mass of tangled vegetation, which can be rather difficult to pass beneath without getting completely soaked by the time you make it to the other side. It’s typically 5-12 inches thick and the rainforests floor is covered in plants, animals, and minerals. It’s an inhospitable place for humans to be, as the undergrowth can harbor several creepy-crawlies.
  • There are 4 distinct eco-regions within the Panama Rainforest:
  • The Coastal Rainforest, located along the Pacific coast of Panama. It is made up of massive hardwood trees, which grow alongside one another and create a dark and gloomy atmosphere. The soil here is fertile, making it highly suitable for plant growth.
  • The Tropical Rainforest, which can be found inland in tropical locations like Panama. Within these forests the soil is usually acidic and rich in nutrients. The vegetation is dominated by palms, which afford a safe nesting place for many species of birds and reptiles. The understory is typically thick with vegetation, which can provide the human eye and the botanist with a good amount of shade.
  • The Orchid Rainforest, which is found in tiny pockets within the tropical rainforests. Here you will find enormous tropical orchid roots, which snake their way around the host tree trunk and its branches, often hanging off them like some sort of weird ivy. Orchid roots can grow as long as 15 feet and are filled with small air-filled sacs which carry the male orchid seeds.
  • The Ice Rainforest, located in the coolest parts of the country, where the temperature can drop below freezing. The trees here grow huge branches which drape down and cover the ground beneath them in a thick blanket of ice. The ice is rich in nutrients and also shelters wildlife such as howler monkeys, sloths, and millions of insects.

The Biology Of A Rainforest

A rainforest as already mentioned is a rather inhospitable place for humans to be, as the undergrowth can harbor several creepy-crawlies. One of the most dangerous is the American crocodile, which can reach an enormous size. The saltwater crocodile is even larger and more dangerous. It has been known to snatch humans and animals alike. To prevent yourself from being eaten by a crocodile, you need to stay out of the water, as the reptile’s natural instinct is to eat fish and mammals. It is also rather unpleasant to sit on, as their tail can break off under extreme pressure. In other words, these animals are large and rather aggressive. Therefore, you should avoid provoking them or staring into the eyes of a crocodile. Seeing as both are nocturnal animals which means they are most active at night, it is best if you do not go near the forests in the middle of the day. They can also both sense your presence from a great distance, so being quiet and still is the best way to go about this.

The largest predator in a rainforest is the jaguar. These animals are skilled hunters and will often target the largest and most formidable animal they can find. Jaguars are rather quick, have a powerful physique, and are known to strike fear into the hearts of other animals, including humans. However, they are also rather territorial and only accept subordinate positions when it comes to mating or dealing with other large animals. Jaguars are most active after dark, however, they will come out during the day if they feel there is food around. There are a number of plants and trees which provide the jaguar with a rather good source of food, such as the peccary and the uakari monkey. The former is a plant which grows near the equator and the latter can be found in the Amazon region of South America. If you see one of these animals, be rest assured that there are plenty more where they came from, as the Amazon rainforest is home to a vast array of wildlife including the jaguar.

The Conservation Efforts Of A Rainforest

It is rather sad that a rainforest is endangered. The demand for products such as timber, medicine, and food far exceeds the available supply within nature’s own protective walls. The destruction of a rainforest brings with it the extinction of countless species of flora and fauna. Fortunately, there are organizations dedicated to preserving these living spaces and ensuring that future generations can enjoy them too. One of the most well-known conservation organizations is the Nature Conservancy. They purchase and protect environmentally sustainable amounts of land which are usually located within a rainforest. They also plant trees and grow gardens on the islands they protect to lure in more wildlife. In other words, the Nature Conservancy tries to emulate the behavior of nature and create habitats where endangered creatures can find safety and thrive. With their help, we may one day restore natural rainforests across the continents and prevent further deforestation. There are also smaller conservation organizations which patrol and protect smaller areas of land, typically within a rainforest. Sometimes individuals and groups of people will even establish “guardianship” over an area of land. They will maintain a land trust and ensure the environment there is protected from cattle ranchers, timber harvesters, and other outside intruders.

How To Write About A Rainforest

So you want to write about a rainforest. Where do you begin? First, take your time; go slowly and describe what you see in great detail. Get familiar with the geography, the climate, and the ecology. Learning about ecology can be rather challenging and you should make use of all available resources, whether books or websites. If possible, visit the place in person and walk around it, getting a feel for the atmosphere and the landscape. In particular, make sure you know how fast you are likely to get sick from malaria or dengue fever, as the vector for these diseases is usually found in the rainforest. There are also poisonous snakes which you should be aware of as well. Remember, you are entering a world that is rather unfamiliar to you and it will take some time to acclimate yourself to its rules and customs. Take your time and enjoy the experience, as you may be the only person who will ever get the chance to do this. Once you have finished your visit, take some time to reflect and then write about your experience. You can use your creative writing skills to communicate your emotions and the feelings of being in a rainforest to the reader. You could imagine how it would look, what the air would be like, and evoke images of all the wonderful plants and animals that you saw. You could bring to life your impression of a rainforest in words