The Temperate Rainforest

The temperate rainforest

Oasis of biodiversity

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 animals

Countless 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 fish

Every 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 trees

Due 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 mushrooms

The 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.


The 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 plants

The 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.

Bald Eagle

The bald eagle does not only land on the highest trees, it also builds the heaviest nests (= clumps) of all bird species. Often referred to as "builder", he returns over many years to his permanent residence. The clumps can weigh up to a ton in the end.

Northern Flying Squirrel

In the upper levels of the trees, the squirrel collects nuts, lichens, berries, mushrooms, but does not disdain the bark of the trees.

The Lackey Moth

The Lackey Moth is a moth. The female lays up to 300 eggs on a branch. The caterpillars that hatch from it spin a tent-like nest from which they search for food together.


Valuable food source for humans and animals - also traditional medicine of the First Nations on the Pacific coast.

Northern Pacific Tree Frog

Like most amphibian species, frogs also have excellent sticking and climbing abilities. Adhesive forces of the wet abdominal skin as well as the limb undersides are used to attach them to the bark of the tree.

Licorice Fern

Compared to a 6% sucrose solution, the licorice fern is about 600 times sweeter, with a licorice-like aftertaste.

Leaf Lichen

Lichens are combinations of one type of fungus and one species of algae. Mushrooms and algae alone are each not viable, they have entered into the lichen an inseparable connection and thus form a new, independent species. The lichens binds like their large-grown relative, the beard lichens carbon. When the lichen-growing lichens grow too tall and heavy, they fall off and are decomposed on the forest floor, releasing nutrients that help the tree grow.

Beard Lichen

"Treebeard" gets longer and longer in the humid, clean air for decades. They give the trees their fabulous green robe.

Mountain Lion

A mountain lion or puma is very agile and strong. He is able to jump up to 5.5 m from the ground into a tree. He hides far above: you see him only when he wants it.

Woodpeckers Hole

The brood-hole is created by woodpeckers to lay eggs in and raise the young. Once the woodpeckers leave, they will continue to be used as a nesting place or hideout by many other animals.

Forest Salamander

The slender, lively salamander with short legs likes to hide under stones and rotting wood. There he eats ants, beetles and worms.

Blueberry Shrubs

The delicate Alaska blueberry has a high antioxidant content. It is not only the largest of its kind, but also effective against cancer.

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the largest owls in the temperate rainforest. For nesting, it seeks abandoned nests of other birds or uses caves in the tree. It prefers to stay in the dense, shady treetop when it is not out hunting mice.


The "Townsend's Chipmunk" is up to 31 cm tall, making it a particularly large chipmunk. It likes to sunbathe on trees. Unlike our squirrels, it lives in an earth cave.

Moss Mats

The moss mats grow very slowly and show that the tree is already very old. They provide habitat for many microorganisms and plants such as the licorice fern. The temperate rainforest counts over 600 species of moss, which are also used by the First Nation for wound care (hemostatic effect) and as pillows.

Leopard Snail

Up to an impressive 20 cm long, she is a predator who feeds optionally on other night snails and their clutch.

Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak is a songbird from the finch family. Usually, the Evening Grosbeaks are on the move in flocks. They constantly call to not lose contact with each other. When the seeds of the maple are ripe, they are a reliable harvest.

Rubus Odoratus

The edible fruit tastes bland, but is used as a remedy for coughing, diarrhea, and labor pains, as well as Pacific Ocean First Nations food.

Wolf Cave

The wolf caves for the birth of the puppies are located in the middle of the wolf area, with easy access to water and prey, almost always under the roots of mighty, centuries-old trees. The wolves in Canada's rainforest, just as the Grizzlies, eat salmon and prove themselves to be clever fishermen.

Lebensraum Baum

Douglas Fir

The Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) will reach a height of more than 100 m in up to 700 years. She loves a humid, rainy climate. Because of its rapid growth and wood quality, it is popular with forestry corporations: clearcutting is often only reforested with Douglas fir, which are cut down again after 25-70 years.

Nutrients from the sea

One fifth of the world's salmon originated in the streams and rivers of the temperate rainforest region of western Canada. The whole ecosystem is uniquely linked to the return of the millions of salmon in autumn: grizzly bears fish the salmon out of the estuaries and leave their leftovers on the ground. There the wolves, ravens, gulls and other animals enjoy the feast. The soils are full of decaying salmon: a special rich fertilizer for the forest.

Salmon skeleton

When the salmon return to their original source, they pass into the cycle of nature as an invaluable source of food: Scientists have found nitrogen from salmon DNA even in the tallest treetops. If only a small "salmon run" is disturbed by deforestation or fishing industry, the network of life in the rainforest is interrupted.

Rain cloud

Many clouds collide with the coastal mountains, which gives the rainforest a lot of water: it boosts the biochemical processes, is purified in mosses and ferns and promotes the growth of all plants. Even nutrient-rich soils are connected with the water cycle. It is stored in the forest floor and thus forms the foundation for the primeval forest giants of temperate rainforest.


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On the West Coast of Canada, the climate is moderate; there is barely any frost. Thanks to this, the biochemical processes in the ground are not interrupted, and thus organic substance is constantly broken down into its original components. Consequently, nutrients are available year-round.


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Die größten Bäume der Welt

Forest as a climate saver

Climate 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 cycle

When 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.

Compensate your CO₂ footprint

We have developed a concept whereby each individual can balance his own personal CO₂ footprint over the living biomass of the forest areas we protect. The special feature: we are researching how much CO₂ per m² is bound. So you know exactly which area of forest compensates for your CO₂ footprint. For example: on a surface of 128 m², the temperate rainforest binds 13 tonnes of CO₂. This corresponds to the average annual consumption of a European.

But the temperate rainforest is not only one of the woods with the highest storage capacity. In its natural development time, it will also bind much more carbon – up to eight tons on 128 m². If, on the other hand, it is cleared, a large part of the carbon stored is returned to the atmosphere as CO₂ and accelerates global warming. Help us to prevent this and take responsibility for your individual carbon footprint.


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.

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.

Our Environmental Protection Concept – Wilderness Sponsors with Geo-coordinates

There are many ways to protect nature with a donation. Our Wilderness Sponsorship system enables everyone to directly and transparently protect nature. Your donation will flow directly into the protection of gigantic trees and the unique animals on the West Coast of Canada. And this is how it works: Wilderness International purchases private lands of intact rainforest. The areas are recorded in the land registry, and thus Wilderness International can legally protect them from destruction forever. All Wilderness Sponsors receive a personalized certificate with the exact geo-coordinates and an aerial photograph of their adopted piece of forest. They can see exactly which piece of forest they have personally protected. To achieve this, we work together with our partner foundation in Germany.

Become a Wilderness Sponsor