Until a few years ago I was not really into rainforests or any other forests for that matter. I used to find them intimidating, claustrophobic with an uncanny ability to suck all the sunshine from the sky. No, my thing was alpine meadows and high mountains. But it all changed after spending a few days with a very knowledgeable guide in the Peruvian Amazon. It brought home the point the vast diversity that are these forests and their utter importance for the future of this planet. There is also no place where you can see Darwin’s theory of the “survival of the fittest” and adaptation for this survival live in action like you can in a rainforest. If you ever thought a lion killing a poor gazelle for food was cruel, then you need to look closer at the millions of species that live in these forests and the length they go to to get that extra bit of sunshine and nutrients.
Tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland in Australia have a tumultuous history. They were all but erased from the face of the earth by the first white immigrants to arrive at their shore from Europe in the early eighteenth century. Europeans unlike the “hunter gatherer” aboriginals were settlers. Their way of life was to build a farm, raise cattle and breed sheep. The forests were nothing but an obstruction in their way of life. And thus began a systematic and, admittedly, arduous process of cutting down these forests to pave way for farming land, and the evidence of that destruction is still visible when you visit these parts today even after a few hundred years. Better sense must have prevailed at some point because now the forests of Far North Queensland are a world heritage protected area, meaning even if a tree (doesn’t matter if it’s extremely sought after red cedar) was to fall down due to natural elements, it cannot be removed. The forest is left to its own means of recycling every waste.
We had two most pleasurable days exploring these forests earlier this year. We went deep into the Atherton tablelands and Cape Tribulation National Park to admire the centuries old giant trees, marsh lands, mangroves, exotic birds, snakes, dragons and get a taste of the mysteries of this land; to learn of its history, of the folk lores and dream stories told by our aboriginal guide and to breathe the freshest of the fresh air.
I love rainforests now even though I am being continuously bitten by leeches and mosquitoes because these forests need tourists to support and appreciate them and drive away the illegal trade of logging and deforestation. If there is one place eco-tourism is most needed today, it is to protect the remaining forests on this planet.