Oasis of biodiversity
The Temperate Rainforest
Grizzly, Wolf and Co.In the West Coast Rainforest, there is still a healthy grizzly population. If there is plenty to eat, a mother will give birth to 3-4 kittens in one year. They feed mainly on the vegetation of the extensive estuaries, in the autumn of salmon. During hibernation, the root caves of old trees are popular. Even the howling of the shy wolf can be heard - just like the mountain lion, he rarely shows himself.
Small animalsCountless animal species find their habitat in the temperate rainforest: salamanders, frogs and snails enjoy the thick, damp moss cushions; Butterflies and beetles find their food in flowers, leaves, fruits and decaying wood. Together, they are an important part of the constant exchange in the ecosystem powered by solar energy.
Salmon and other fishEvery autumn millions of salmon from the sea pull up the rivers to spawn. Not only grizzly bears need this feast before their hibernation. The remains form rich fertilizer for the forest floor. The salmon are an indispensable part of the temperate rainforest. If only a "salmon run" is prevented by deforestation and the resulting silting of the rivers, the natural cycle is severely disturbed.
Giant treesDue to the mild and humid climate, evergreen tree giants grow for up to 2000 years. These include the giant cedar tree, the Sitka spruce or the Douglas fir. Some trees reach heights of over 100 m! They make up the majority of the total biomass of more than 1,000 tons per hectare - even surpassing the biomass of living things in the tropical forests.
Lichen, mosses, ferns and mushroomsThe ancient rainforest is mossy and wrapped in mist, its undergrowth impenetrable dense. The bearded lichen, the licorice fern and the moss Porella navicularis are just a few of the countless species that grow slowly over decades and give the trees their fabulous green robe. Many mushrooms live on the nutrient exchange with their tree neighbors.
BirdsThe bald eagle does not only land on the highest trees, it also builds the heaviest nests of all bird species - they can weigh up to a ton. Over years, he returns again and again to a "permanent residence". Countless waterbirds are looking forward to the "salmon remains" of the bears in autumn. Even ravens and wolves live in an interesting symbiosis when it comes to the common foraging.
Flowering plantsThe spirit flower grows on the inner forest floor and is a very special plant: it does not photosynthesize. The delicious Alaska blueberry, however, can be seen more often along the river banks. With its high antioxidant content, it is not only the largest of its kind, but also has anti-cancer effects. Many other medicinal plants are at home in the rainforest - often unexplored until today.
Forest as a climate saverClimate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. As an environmental foundation, we believe rainforest conservation is one of the most effective and meaningful solutions to countering global warming. Our protected areas are located in the temperate rainforest of Canada - one of the most important "sinks" in the carbon cycle of the earth. Its ancient giant trees absorb carbon dioxide as a nutrient from the air and incorporate carbon into their tissue over centuries or even millennia. As a result, they act as natural filters and remove a significant portion of the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Even a small piece of temperate rainforest can reduce the CO2 emmissons that we cause.
When the Pacific meets the Coastal Mountains, there is rain, rain and more rain. Thick clouds hit the mountain range and rain down, giving the rainforest a lot of water. This is stored in the forest soil and thus forms the foundation for the primeval forest giants of the temperate rainforest. Without the forest, the surface water would drain and drain the nutrient-rich soil.
On the west coast of Canada is the largest contiguous temperate rainforest in the world. When sunrays shine on its dense tree tops, a lot of water vapor is created, which cools the atmosphere of our earth. Clouds and haze regulate the temperatures and keep the moisture in the forest. If this natural air conditioner disappears, our earth will continue to heat up.
Ancient forests are the foundation of all life on earth: in the biochemical processes of photosynthesis, the trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, which we need to breathe. In addition, they filter harmful particles from the emissions generated by traffic and industry. Without them, our air would be completely polluted.
The temperate rainforest is closely linked to climate change. With its huge trees and the world's highest forest biomass supply, it stores 105 kg of carbon (C) on every square meter. When this forest is cleared, huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) are released into the atmosphere - around 15 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from forest destruction. However, if the temperate rainforest continues to grow, it will bind much more carbon in its natural development time - up to 63 kg per square meter.
Carbon cycleWhen plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere and store it partly as carbon in their biomass. The more biomass is produced, the more organic carbon is present in the plants such as e.g. stored in the wood and in the roots of trees. If the trees die and rot, then the CO₂ is free again. Depending on the intensity of the carbon-binding or releasing processes, the carbon balance varies: if more CO₂ is permanently bound in the biomass and soil through growth processes than is released again through decomposition processes, then the ecosystem is a CO₂ sink.
Large-scale clearing, commercial wild animal hunting, mining projects and fish factories are still threatening the most species-rich ecosystem of the northern hemisphere. About 25 percent of the ancient forest on the west coast of Canada is left - the last large contiguous area of temperate rainforest in the world.
Struggle for a protection agreement
In 1997, Greenpeace launched an international campaign to protect the Great Bear Rainforest (northern and central part of the Canadian West Coast Rainforest). After nearly two decades of concrete action and tough negotiations, a final agreement was reached in February 2016 between the environmental organizations Greenpeace, Sierra Club and Forest Ethics, more than 20 First Nations, forestry companies and the British Columbia government. The final protection agreement ensures a mountainous forest area of more than three million hectares from industrial deforestation - an area that roughly corresponds to the area of Belgium. Around 550,000 hectares are subject to a Land Management Plan and may continue to be used under legal conditions. Now industry, government and First Nations must struggle not to fall behind the agreements. Local environmental organizations such as Pacific Wild see this as a positive intermediate step, but, like other scientists and environmental groups, point to the urgent need for further efforts.
Wilderness International is now even more motivated to close the unprotected major gaps in this unique ecosystem south of the Great Bear Rainforest in collaboration with local people and international support.