“第八大奇迹”? The ‘eighth wonder'?
Milford Sound/Piopiotahi rainforest in New Zealand
Today we're taking a tramping trip to New Zealand's South Island to visit the place Rudyard Kipling once called the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound and its surrounding rainforest. Tramping, New Zealand-speak for hiking, is incredibly popular at Milford Sound. Nearly a million tourists visit the area every year, despite its somewhat remote location. Originally overlooked by European explorers, the area is now known for its beauty and abundance of wildlife. It's not uncommon for visitors to spot dolphins, humpback whales, and native Fiordland penguins.
Since 1998, Milford Sound is one of about 90 places in New Zealand to now officially have a dual name, joining its former European name with the Indigenous Māori name. Now known as Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, the Māori named the area after the extinct piopio bird. According to myth, the Māori hero, Māui, died during his quest to win immortality for mankind. A single piopio flew into the fjord to mourn him. This bird was memorialized in the name, as the Māori word ‘tahi' means ‘one.' The Māori people first traveled to the area centuries ago to hunt and fish. They also collected the precious pounamu (aka greenstone) used for trade, carving, and weaponry.
今天，我们将徒步前往新西兰南岛，参观曾经被称为世界第八大奇迹的鲁迪亚德·吉卜林（Rudyard Kipling），米尔福德湾（Milford Sound）及其周围的雨林。“徒步旅行”是新西兰人对徒步旅行的称呼，在米尔福德湾非常受欢迎。尽管该地区有些偏远，但每年仍有近100万游客前来观光。该地区最初被欧洲探险家所忽视，现在以其美丽和丰富的野生动物而闻名。游客看到海豚、座头鲸和本地的峡湾企鹅并不罕见。
地球之肺 The lungs of Earth
World Rainforest Day
Perhaps no other place on Earth plays a more crucial role in sustaining life as we know it than the Amazon rainforest, the largest in the world. The Amazon spans nine countries in South America including Ecuador, where this pristine ecoregion is protected by the Yasuní National Park, shown here. Today is set aside as World Rainforest Day, to remember the vital role of this and other rainforests and to champion efforts to protect them. The world's rainforests are under threat like never before from deforestation driven by agriculture and cattle ranching. Some studies have indicated humans have degraded or destroyed more than half of the world's rainforests. Fewer trees mean warmer temperatures, which increases the risk of drought and wildfire and compounds the damage of deforestation.
The Amazon has been called the lungs of the planet because the estimated 390 billion trees here convert much of the oxygen humans and other animals need to survive. The Amazon also cools our planet by capturing and storing carbon. It is as much the planet's air conditioner as it is its lungs. For that reason, the health of rainforests is crucial to arresting climate change.
The other gift of rainforests, and of the Amazon in particular, is biodiversity. The number of species of plants, animals, and insects in the Amazon is not in the thousands, but in the millions. Scientists estimate half of the planet's biodiversity exists in the Amazon. In fact, many of our modern pharmaceuticals are derived from Amazon plants. That makes the Amazon not just the Earth's lungs and air conditioning, but also its medicine cabinet.
A misty morning in Brazil
The Amazon rainforest is big. Almost unimaginably big. To begin to grasp its immensity, consider these numbers: The Amazon rainforest covers about 2% of the world's surface area, nearly 2.1 million square miles across South America, mostly (nearly 60%) in the country you see here, Brazil. It's an area that accounts for over half the Earth's remaining rainforests. The breadth of biodiversity is incomparable–nearly 16,000 different tree species, 40,000 species of other plants, 2.5 million insect species, and over 2,000 different types of birds and mammals. Incredibly, perhaps a tenth of the planet's known species call the Amazon home, many of which have not even been identified.
Yet, despite its vastness and ecological riches, the Amazon and the world's rainforests in general are in jeopardy, with large swaths of these precious environments being stripped and spoiled every day. Recent analysis has revealed some ominous warning signs that the Amazon rainforest, long known as the 'Lungs of the World,' is now spewing out as much greenhouse gas as it can store because of rampant deforestation here. If true, this is a bad sign in our battle against climate change. Hopefully, these warnings will raise awareness about the importance of rainforests, and the vital 'carbon sink' role they play in creating and maintaining the air that we breath. The more we learn about rainforests, the more we appreciate how our own future, and the future of our planet, hinges upon their health.
Welcome to the Hoh
Don't let this sunny picture fool you. The Hoh, a temperate rainforest on the western side of Olympic National Park in Washington state, sees between 12 and 14 feet of rain each year, making it one of the wettest places in the continental US. But all that moisture creates a lush, even mystical environment. The forest features a mix of conifers and deciduous trees draped heavily with moss, like the arching big leaf maple in our homepage image. A stroll through the forest will also reveal the massive Sitka spruce and western hemlock that may reach more than 300 feet up into the dense canopy. Below, the woods teem with ferns, lichen, and other vegetation. It's an enchanted forest right out of a fairy tale.