January 17, 2001
Tree tops in the Amazon rainforest north of Manaus, Brazil are seen in this view from the top of a research tower operated by INPA, the Brazilian National Institute for Amazonian Research. The rainforest in this area is still pristine, but land use and development issues continue to pressure much of Amazonia. Tropical rainforests are home to an enormous diversity of plants and animals - over 50,000 species of plants have been cataloged in the Brazilian forest alone. Covering an area the size of the US west of the Mississippi, Amazon rainforest accounts for about 1/3 of the remaining forest on Earth, and is responsible for producing 15% of the planet's oxygen.