Friday, 6 February 2015

School trip to an Indoor Rainforest on 20th Jan 2015

Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a school trip to visit an indoor tropical rainforest.  I was really interested in going because I have been to so many rainforests and I wanted everyone in my class to experience something like what I had seen abroad, so many times.  The trip was part of our Natural Environment module in Geography.  The plan was that we learnt more about the rainforest and its animals, insects, plants and how they are threatened at Living Rainforest.

We left by coach after morning assembly, for what was a two hour journey to the indoor rainforest near Newbury.  There was a girl sitting behind me who is using crutches at the moment.  She started to feel sick and getting really panicky, as she couldn’t pick up her crutches from under the seat quick enough.  She did not make it to the front of the coach in time, and was sick behind me.  I felt really sorry for her, as that must have been awful. 

For this school trip, I had a packed lunch and smoothie but no bottle of water with me.  That was not good for a visit to a rainforest and I ended up being really thirsty in the heat and humidity of the indoor rainforest.

Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

A Young Birder's view

When we arrived, we were introduced to everyone and walked around the indoor rainforest, looking at different species.  There were two big glass greenhouses, one had plants in and the other had animals and birds in it, like the Red-billed Toucan, a Yellow-knobbed Curassow and Two-toed Sloth.  They also had Stingrays. It was quite like a rainforest, but it was quite bright, it was not very dense and the trees were all really small.  I am sure that it will all grow to be more like the Amazon with time.  It was really humid like a rainforest though.  As a young birder and young conservationist, the trip was really important to me.

Toe-toes Sloth, Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

Red-billed Toucan, Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

Tropical rainforests like the Amazon and those in Asia have 50% of all species of living organisms, but cover only 6% of the land.  They used to cover twice that area and the area is reducing rapidly due to deforestation and palm oil plantations.  They can not have a value put to them and have huge amounts of medicine from their leaves and bark.

There is a strong link between diverse rainforest and the number of indigenous communities living there, for example in places like the Amazon.  It is these people who really know and understand the rainforest, for example how to make medicines.  In remote and dense rainforest, you can have indigenous communities who have little contact outside their community.

Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

Now there is rapid deforestation, usually from people coming from outside.  The communities make little money for a short time, if at all.  Some communities, for example the community we met in Bolivian Amazon, decide to build eco-lodges, rather than making a quick “buck” with timber sales.  They had agreed to only kill one animal per family per month, to ensure there were plenty of fearless animals for the tourists to see.  Our bird guide for the trip used to be a loincloth wearing hunter using a bow an arrow, until recent years.

We had a sheet where we had to write down four different species that they have in captivity there, that were endangered and why.  I found out that Fischer’s Turaco, from Africa, was endangered because of habitat loss and birds being taken from the wild for the pet trade, for their feathers and meat.  There was also Veiled Chameleon that was also endangered because they were taken for the pet trade.  The Mexican Hissing Cockroach was used for jewellery, making it endangered.  The Green and Black Poison Dart Frog is endangered because its poison was used to coat hunter’s weapons.  I have seen a few different poison dart frogs in the Amazon, which was fantastic.

Fischer's Turaco, Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

I also found out about the sap from the dumb cane plant, which if you eat, will make up unable to because you’re in intense main, make your tongue and mouth swell up.  This lasts for ten minutes and they used to use the poison on slaves so that they could not complain or rebel, sometimes killing children.

Dumb Cane Plant, Chew Valley School Y8 at Indoor Rainforest
Copyright Chew Valley School

They gave us a tour and everyone was interested in what they said, which was great.

Rainforests are really important for the planet’s regulation of climate change.  However now, the actual deforestation process creates more CO2 emissions than cars, planes and ships put together, which is appalling.

This is a vlog from Jack Smith in year 8 of Chew Valley School, Vlog of Living Rainforest Trip.

About the writer

Young Birder and Conservationist, Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker.    She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world.  She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people.  Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter

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