How will these resources help you?

With the current emphasis on climate change and human pressures, many teachers may use the time to focus purely on the human issues associated with this topic. However, what makes tropical rainforests so exciting for many students is why they are essential for the planet, and their high levels of biodiversity. This resource list focuses on different animal and plant species, while touching on human uses of the rainforests and climate change issues. These resources will inspire passion for tropical rainforests, offering a deeper understanding of the species living there, as well as providing material for classroom activities. 

Tropical rainforest biodiversity

Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America

by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata, published by Touchstone, (1987), 9780684187105

This book offers an excellent insight into tropical forest life and one of the big issues that threatens it: deforestation. The first-person narrative really engages the reader and enables us to truly imagine what the authors are describing. The book discusses key biodiversity theories and specific tropical rainforest biodiversity. It also offers very useful location information. I learnt about many species from this book and continue to use the examples to engage my students. You could use passages from the book in class or set chapters as homework. 

Tropical rainforest life – people and the forest

A Land of Ghosts: The Braided Lives of People and the Forest in Far Western Amazonia

by David G. Campbell, published by Rutgers University Press, (2007), 9780813540528

This book discusses the nature of the tropical rainforest and why humans use it. Links to key case studies can be made from the book as well as to the different stakeholders of the Amazon. It links the significance of the rainforest's biodiversity and its importance for humans. The book is written in the first-person, which makes the reader feel like they are on the journey with Campbell. Its use of geographical terminology will improve students’ vocabulary. This is a fantastic book to revitalise the topic, discussing the many species and the key reasons why the rainforest is crucial and why it must be preserved. 

Tropical rainforest life and our future

Guardians of the Trees: A Journey of Hope Through Healing the Planet: A Memoir

by Kinari Webb, published by Flatiron Books, (2021), 9781250751386

This book focuses on Webb's experiences in Borneo and the local communities that live there, rather than on its biodiversity. The accounts of the local communities and their ideas give a clear picture of why they need the rainforest and how they use it, and why problems are arising. It brings to the fore the problems of economic needs and climate change, with Webb and the local people giving their ideas for solutions to these issues. The rainforests of Borneo are opened up to the reader and the key geographical theories and ideas discussed in a way that will keep teachers and students wanting to discuss them further. 

The big forests, our saviours?

Asia’s Wildlife: A Journey to the Forests of Hope (Proceeds Support BirdLife International)

by Fanny Lai and Bjorn Olesen, published by Periplus Editions, (2021), 9780794608255

This engaging book will inspire teachers and students alike with its beautiful photos and scientific explanations about the species that live in Asia’s rainforests. The 'Forests of Hope' in the title is a conservation programme by BirdLife International to conserve and restore forests. Its aim was also to combat the effects of climate change and work with the local communities. You could use it in class for matching or identifying activities based on the wildlife. You could also discuss specific species and their adaptations for survival in the tropical rainforests. 

Audiovisual clip

Life - Forest education

published by BBC, (2009)

A visual exploration of what the Sumatran rainforest looks like, and how local orangutans educate their infants.

Further materials

Indonesia's palm oil export ban by Tania Murray Li, published by Decolonising Geography, (2022) Access this resource
On the Forests of Tropical Asia: Lest the Memory fade by Peter Ashton, published by Kew Publishing, (2014), 9781842464755 Find this book
Wildlife of Southeast Asia (Princeton Pocket Guides): 14 by Susan Myers, published by Princeton University Press, (2016), 9780691154855 Find this book
Rainforests, Explained by Christina Nunez, published by National Geographic Society, (2022) Visit this website
Rainforests 101, published by the National Geographic Society, (2019) Watch this video
Sarah Darby is a Geography teacher who studied hurricanes for her dissertation. She writes geography course material and case studies.

Text © Sarah Darby, 2022.