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Southeast Asia Rainforest Facts

Updated April 17, 2017

As of 2010, Southeast Asia is home to the fastest-disappearing equatorial rainforests. These rainforests are also the oldest rainforests on Earth---about 70 million years old. Southeast Asia is a string of islands between mainland Asia and Australia and is always humid and warm, but the rainforests are quickly becoming obsolete.

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The Southeast Asian rainforests are in a tropical wet climate that experiences two monsoon seasons a year---from October to February and from April to August. The rainforests get a median 79 inches of rain each year. There is very little change in temperature all year---it always stays around 26.7 degrees C in Southeast Asia, with higher temperatures in the rainforest. There is often rain in the afternoons in the rainforests.


The flora in the Southeast Asian rainforests is broadleaved evergreen. As with many other rainforests, epiphytes such as orchids or ferns grow on trees. Many species thrive in the shade, growing underneath the rainforest's canopy. Plants and animals quickly decompose in the rainforests by fungi and insects, and many of the soil's nutrients remain shallow. The roots of trees aren't able to grow very deep and have adapted by growing in other directions. The trees and plants of the Southeast Asian rainforests are home to many different species such as bats, bees, wasps and other mammals and birds.


There are many species living in the Southeast Asian rainforests, and a lot that are on the verge of extinction. These include species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Sumatran tiger, the white-handed gibbon, the orang-utan and the Malayan tipir.

People of the Southeast Asian Rainforests

Today few of the original inhabitants of the rainforest remain. These people are Australoids that live mostly in remote areas of Borneo, the Philippines, New Guinea and the Malay. Few of them continue to live their traditional way of life, but many of them continue their indigenous religions that appreciate the spiritual interaction of animals and humans. Because of industry and immigration, many of the tribal people have been relocated.

Rainforest Destruction

Many of the flora and fauna of the Southeast Asian rainforests are becoming extinct because of human destruction of their natural habitat. Logging, dams, mining, industry, poaching, ranching and agriculture have destroyed much of the Southeast Asian rainforest. Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea exported large quantities of timber to Japan that resulted in the clearing of a lot of rainforest area. The rainforests have also been threatened by changes in climate, such as the 1998 El Nino, which caused a decrease in rainfall.

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About the Author

Jenny Molberg is a Texas native who has worked as an assistant editor at a literary magazine and her poems have been published in several nationally recognized journals. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

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