A fascinating world

Mein Regenwald - this is a rugged mountain world between 1500 and 3500 meters above sea level.

The landscape

Depending on the altitude, tropical mountain forests, cloud forests, bamboo forests as well as peat forests and moors determine the landscape. Again and again the forests are intersected by deep gorges. Everywhere water splashes, flows or roars down the mountain slopes into the valleys where rivers form. There are countless waterfalls and caves.

The cycle of rain

The rainforest lives up to its name. It rains almost every day. The forest makes some of the rain itself. A single giant tree can evaporate several tons of water in a single day, which then gets caught in the dense vegetation as mist, falls to the ground as rain, or is carried as clouds by the wind to the dry Andes, where it provides rain. The rest of the rain, which supplies the jungle of Mein Regenwald with water, is carried by the wind from the lowland forests further east and falls to the ground again in the mountains. The destruction of the lowland forests hundreds of kilometers away is therefore also a threat to the particularly species-rich mountain forests of Mein Regenwald.

Especially at higher altitudes, the soil is like a sponge. It consists of meter-thick layers of dead plants. It absorbs the rainwater and in the drier season this gigantic water reservoir releases the clean water very slowly to the streams. These flow into the great rivers of Amazonia, which therefore never dry out even in summer.

The battle for light

Water is abundant, but sunlight is a problem for the many plants in the rainforest. In the eternal battle for the best place in the sun, each plant has its own strategy. The jungle giants grow slowly, initially in the shade of other trees, until they reach the canopy themselves. Other tree species, the so-called pioneers, conquer clearings created on the banks of rivers or by the death of a giant tree. They grow quickly to be the first to reach the light, but are then caught up again and displaced by the slow-growing giants. Because of the lack of light on the forest floor, most of the smaller plants in the mountain rainforest live epiphytically, i.e. they climb or tendril their way up the trees or have their seeds carried directly high into the treetops via the excretions of birds and monkeys. There they germinate and grow. There is hardly a square inch on the trunk or branches of the trees that does not serve as a habitat for other plants. Countless species of lianas, orchids, bromeliads, mosses, lichens, ferns, philodendrons, begonias, etc. grow on the trees. Botanists in the region have counted hundreds of different plant species on a single primeval forest giant.

Forest as tissue

The comparison with a Central European forest with its few tree species, which have also been cultivated by man for centuries, does not convey any idea of the rainforest in the mountains of Peru. Actually, the word fabric best describes what the forest looks like here. It is impenetrable. On a single square meter, even the layman discovers 10 different species of orchids, plus several species of ferns, fuchsias and lianas. A tangle of leaves, flowers, branches, shoots, tendrils and roots that the eye must first get used to. The smallest orchid grows on dead trees and is just three or four centimeters tall; the largest stands in the marshy soil by the river and measures three meters from ground to flower. And trees grow everywhere, five-meter-high tree ferns and palms, their roots and dead branches fallen to the ground making every step a balancing act.

Internet of the forest

Internet of the forest

Hidden in the soil and in dead plants, they are omnipresent: fungi. With their microscopic threads, they permeate the entire forest. One teaspoon of forest soil can contain several kilometers of this fungal tissue. Many trees have formed an alliance with a very specific type of fungus. The tree provides sugar solution to the fungus, the fungus provides nutrients to the tree and defends it against attack. For there are also killers among the fungi. They look for weak spots in the tree, for example, a small hole in the bark. There they penetrate and begin to feed on the tree, which then slowly dies. All the trees in the rainforest are connected to each other by the fungal threads in the soil. They exchange nutrients and information through this network: The fungi are the JWW - the jungle wide web, without which no jungle can survive.