Glossary of Rainforest Terms

Amazon basin: The largest tropical rainforest in the world, spanning eight South American nations.

Agricultural waste: (ag waste) Farm leftovers like cornstalks, wheat straw, rice straw, hay straw, banana stalks, or sugarcane waste, that can be made into tree-free paper. Usually, ag waste gets buried or burned.

Alternatives: When you use a different item than something that’s normally used. For instance, instead of using petroleum-based ink, an alternative would be to use ink that’s soy-based or water-based.

Bagasse: Agricultural waste from the sugarcane that can be made into tree-free paper.

Bamboo: A fast-growing plant that can be made into tree-free paper.

Banana stalks: Agricultural waste from the banana plant that can be made into tree-free paper.

Beef: A type of red meat that comes from cows or cattle.

Boycott: When people stop buying products from a company that is doing something they don’t like, in hopes that the company will change what it is doing. Boycotts only work when many people join together to do them.

Brazil: The largest country in South America and home to 1/3 of the largest tropical rainforest in the world—the Amazon rainforest.

Carpool: When people get together to share a ride from one place to another (like to school, stores, or work). Carpooling saves gasoline since only one car is being used to transport people instead of several cars.

Cattle ranching: One of the main causes of rainforest destruction. Rainforest land is slashed and burned to clear away the trees so grass pastures can be planted for cows to eat. These cows then get butchered and sent to the United States and other countries to be put into fast-food hamburgers and canned pet food.

Clear-cut logging: The act of cutting down all the trees in an area. Clear-cut logging is a quick way to get a lot of trees to use for wood, but it destroys the forest and ruins the home and lives of the animals—and indigenous peoples—living there.

Congo (The People’s Republic of): African nation that is home to the third largest tropical rainforest in the world.

Conserve: To use less of something like gasoline or paper in order to save the natural resources it comes from. For example, conserving gasoline means less rainforest needs to be drilled for oil, and conserving paper means less trees need to be cut down to make paper.

Consumption: Taking or using items that come from natural resources. Oftentimes, wealthy countries like the United States and Canada have a high level of consumption compared to poorer countries like Ecuador or Nigeria. Over-consumption of natural resources has a negative effect on the planet—especially on the rainforests, since many of the products we consume (such as oil and wood) come from the rainforest.

Cornstalks: Agricultural waste from the corn plant that can be made into tree-free paper.

Costa Rica: A small country in Central America that has already lost 90% of its rainforest to destruction—much of it due to cattle ranching. As a result of this loss, Costa Rica now works hard to protect the 10% of Costa Rican rainforest that remains.

Cotton: A crop used to make many things including fabric and tree-free paper. crude oil The raw form oil takes when it is first drilled out from the Earth.

Currency: Another name for paper money. Old currency that is recycled can be made into tree-free paper.

Deforestation: When a living forest is destroyed due to things such as logging, cattle ranching, or oil drilling.

Denim: A coarse cotton or hemp fabric used to make blue jeans. Denim scraps can be used to make tree-free paper.

Diet: The food that a person or animal usually consumes.

Douglas fir: An evergreen tree that grows in the temperate rainforest of northwest North America. Often used as timber for wood products.

Ebony: An endangered tropical tree that has very dark wood.

Ecuador: A small country in South America, right near the equator, that contains part of the Amazon rainforest. Much of the rainforest destruction in Ecuador is due to oil drilling.

Endangered: When a species or habitat is threatened with extinction. For instance, the spotted owl is endangered with extinction due to the logging of the temperate rainforest in the US Pacific Northwest where it lives.

Extinction: The total dying out of a species of animal, plant, etc.—whether due to natural and/or human-made causes.

Fiber: The material in a plant that allows it to be made into paper or clothing. Fiber is what holds it all together.

Flax: A plant with blue flowers that can be turned into linen fabric or tree-free paper.

Food chain: The feeding relationships among organisms. A hierarchy or pecking order of different living things, each of which feeds on the one below. For instance, a jaguar eats a bird which eats an ant which eats a berry from a tree. Eating lower on the food chain (i.e. eating a plant-based diet versus an animal based diet) is good for our health and the environment.

Fossil fuels: Another name for the gasoline and fuel oils that come from petroleum. So named because they came from the fossils of dinosaurs and plants that lived on Earth millions of years ago.

Habitat: The natural environment in which an animal or plant lives or grows. Without their habitat, many species will become extinct.

Harvest: To gather something that has been growing such as nuts, corn, or hay. hay straw Plants such as grass or alfalfa that can be used to make tree-free paper.

Hemp: A tall plant easily grown as a crop that can be turned into many things like food, fuel, plastic, fabric, rope, and tree-free paper. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

Indigenous peoples: The original, native peoples that have lived in the same area for thousands of years. Native Americans such as the Hopi and Cherokee are the indigenous peoples of the United States.

Indonesia: Island nation in Southeast Asia that is home to one of the largest tropical rainforests in the world.

Jelutong: A tropical rainforest tree from Southeast Asia that is used to make pencils. Alternatives to jelutong pencils include those made of graphite or sustained incense cedar.

Kenaf: A plant that can be made into tree-free paper. Kenaf can be grown like a crop on former tobacco plantations in the Southeast US.

Landfills: A way to get rid of garbage by burying it in the ground. A good way to reduce the overflow of landfills is to reuse and recycle items instead of throwing them in the trash.

Large-scale agriculture: One of the main causes of rainforest destruction. Large areas of rainforest are often cleared to make room for plantations that grow crops such as bananas, oranges, or coffee. “Commercial agriculture” is another term for this.

Logging: The act of cutting down trees to use them for wood products.

Mahogany: An endangered rainforest tree from South and Central America and Africa that is used to make furniture.

Mass transit: A system of transportation that is meant to carry many people at once. Buses, trains, and subways are forms of mass transit. Using mass transit instead of your own car helps conserve oil and gasoline.

Natural resources: Things from nature like trees or oil that we use in our daily lives. Some natural resources like oil are non-renewable which means that once they are used up, there will be no more. Many people feel it is important to conserve our natural resources now for future generations and for the sake of nature itself.

Nutrition: What our bodies need to be healthy and alive. Nutrition comes from eating a balance of foods that contain protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Plant-based foods that are natural, organic, and closest to their whole, unrefined state are often healthiest for our bodies and contain the highest nutrition.

Oil drilling: The act of getting oil from beneath the ground. Oil drilling involves a lot of machinery and oftentimes destroys the area in which the drilling occurs.

Oil exploration: The act of trying to find more oil beneath the ground. Oil exploration often involves the explosion of dynamite and building of roads, and can destroy natural areas.

Old growth forest: A forest that is very old with trees that are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old. Almost all of the old growth forests in the United States have disappeared due to logging.

Origin: Where something first comes from. For instance, the origin of vanilla is the tropical rainforests since that is where the vanilla plant naturally grows.

Organic: Another word for “natural” or “living.” When fruits, grains, or vegetables are labeled organic it means they were grown using natural methods that do not include the use of chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides.

People’s Republic of Congo, The Refer to Congo.

Petrochemicals: Chemicals that come from petroleum. These chemicals are used in many products such as cosmetics, chewing gum, clothing, and plastic products. Petrochemical products are unhealthy for the planet and our bodies. petrol Another word for gasoline.

Petroleum: A thick, dark, flammable liquid that occurs naturally beneath the Earth and is processed into such products as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, and fuel oils.

Plant-based: A way to describe something that comes from plants. A plant-based diet is one that is filled with fruits, seeds, grains, legumes, and vegetables that all are grown from plants.

Plastic: A multi-purpose material, typically made from petroleum. Alternative sources for plastic include corn, hemp, and seaweed.

Pollution: When harmful waste products enter the air, water, or earth. The main cause of air pollution is the burning of oil and gasoline by factories and cars.

Post-consumer waste: The material (paper or plastic) that is left over once someone is done using it. For example, magazines, phonebooks, “junk mail,” and old homework are some paper items that would be considered post-consumer waste.

Preservation: When a natural area is totally protected and kept intact.

Pulp: The moist, wet mass that comes from a tree or from a plant like kenaf when it is ground up and moistened for the purpose of making paper.

Recycle: To recover useful materials from something instead of throwing it in the trash. For instance, the paper in newspapers can be recovered and recycled into new sheets of paper.

Red meat: Another name for beef. Red meat is so called because of its red color. Red meat can come from a variety of animals such as cows, deer, buffalo, and lamb. Most red meat consumed in the United States comes from cows or cattle.

Reduce: To use less of something. This is often done in an effort to conserve natural resources. For instance, reducing the amount of paper you use helps conserve trees.

Redwood (coastal): Tall, strong, and sometimes ancient temperate rainforest tree often used for building materials, hot tubs, or lawn furniture.

Renewable resource: A natural resource like the sun or wind that can be used again and again without ever running out.

Reuse: The act of using something again and again instead of throwing it away. Glass bottles and cloth bags are examples of things that can be reused over and over.

Rice straw: The agricultural waste of the rice plant. Rice straw can be made into tree-free paper and is often used for paper-making in countries such as China and India.

Rosewood: An endangered tropical rainforest tree that is used to make furniture. sandalwood A tropical rainforest tree from Asia with a fragrant aroma that is used in cabinet-making, wood carvings, and perfume.

Seaweed: A sea vegetable full of nutrients that can also be used as an alternative to trees and oil for making products such as paper and plastic.

Sitka spruce: An evergreen tree that grows in the temperate rainforest of the US Pacific Northwest and is often logged for wood products.

Solar power: Using the sun for energy instead of using oil or gas. Solar power is a non-polluting form of energy that comes from a renewable resource. Hanging clothes to dry in the sun is one way of using solar power.

Species: Living things such as plants and animals.

Sustainable: To be able to use something over an endless period of time in a way that does not destroy the environment. Wind power and solar power are sustainable forms of energy.

Sustained incense cedar: A cedar tree that comes from a forest that is not destroyed in the process of logging. An alternative to jelutong for making pencils.

Synthetic fibers: Fabrics like polyester, nylon, acetate, and acrylic that come from petrochemicals. Synthetic fibers are fibers that are human-made versus fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, and hemp that are made in nature.

Teak: An endangered tropical tree from Southeast Asia that is used to make furniture and picture frames.

Temperate rainforest: A type of rainforest that gets cold. Temperate rainforests are found in places such as Canada, New Zealand, Chile, and the US Pacific Northwest. Trees can grow to be two thousand years old in temperate rainforests.

Tree-free: A way to describe paper products that come from plants other than trees. Tree-free paper can be made from plants like kenaf or from farmers’ leftovers called agricultural waste.

Tropical rainforest: A warm, humid forest with at least 100 inches of rainfall a year, that is found around the equator in places like South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. At least half of all the world’s animals—and millions of indigenous peoples—are found in the tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests might disappear in our lifetime if we don’t act now to save them.

Virgin forest or primary forest: A natural, ancient forest that has been around for thousands of years and that hasn’t been harmed by logging, mining, road-building, or development. More than three-fourths of the Earth’s primary forests have already been destroyed due to humankind’s activities.

Wheat straw: Agricultural waste from the wheat plant that can be made into tree-free paper.

Wind power: Using the wind for energy instead of using oil or gas. Wind power has been around for centuries (think of Dutch windmills, for example) and is a rainforest-friendly way to meet our energy needs. The wind is a clean and renewable form of energy.

Vegan: A totally plant-based diet that does not include any animal products like meat, dairy, or eggs. Studies have shown that a balanced vegan diet of fresh, natural foods is one of the healthiest ways to eat.

Vegetarian: A diet that does not include any meat, chicken, or fish but can include dairy and eggs.