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The temperate rainforest.

Wilderness International - Temperate rainforest
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Where is the temperate rainforest located?

The temperate rainforest is mainly located in cool temperate climate zones between 40° and 60° north and south latitude. southern latitude. Some of the best known regions with temperate rainforest are the west coast of North America from California to Alaska, the southern coastal regions of Chile, parts of New Zealand Chile, parts of New Zealand and Tasmania and some areas in Japan and in Japan and Europe.

What is the Temperate Rainforest?

The temperate rainforest is a unique forest forest ecosystem. Due to its geographical location, it is not as not as hot as in the tropics, and you can find different animal and plant and plant species. With its year-round humid climate, the temperate temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius and an and an annual rainfall of up to up to 5,000 mm per year, it is also a typical rainforest a typical rainforest that offers optimal living conditions. conditions.

Why was it created?

Rainforests develop in a climate that is humid all year round and particularly high levels of precipitation. Almost all temperate rainforests are located on the western side of high mountain ranges, including including the temperate rainforest of western Canada. There transport humid air masses that rise over the Pacific Pacific Ocean towards the coastal mountains. At the mountains, the air masses are forced to rise. In the process cool down and the moisture condenses. From a height, the air cannot rise any further and so the clouds the clouds rain down. This leads to huge amounts of precipitation of over 2000 mm per year. Due to the the coast, summers and winters remain mild, which means that less precipitation evaporates overall. The heavy rainfall and evaporation, supplemented by frequent fog, lead to a constantly to a constantly humid climate.

Important - and threatened

The primeval forests of the temperate rainforest are the most richest ecosystem in the temperate climate zone and therefore an important habitat. They also store vast amounts of carbon and therefore play an important role in the global global climate system.

Unfortunately, however, these primeval forests are acutely threatened by clear-cutting and urbanization. That is why Wilderness International is active in the temperate rainforest. Here you can with us to preserve a piece of Canadian old-growth forest forever forever:

The primeval forests of western Canada are home to wild coastal wolves, mighty bald eagles, rare carnivorous sundews and giant sundew and gigantic primeval forest giants such as maple trees, Alaska cedars and giant live trees, up to 2,000 years old and years old and 100 meters high.

What makes it so special?

1. huge, ancient trees

Due to the mild, humid climate and the low human evergreen tree giants grow for up to 2000 years. These include the giant arborvitae, the Sitka spruce and the Douglas fir. the Douglas fir. Some trees reach heights of over 100 m. They make up the majority of the total biomass of up to 1000 tons per hectare - that even surpasses tropical forests. tropical forests.

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How can the trees grow so big and old?

Mild climate

The Pacific Ocean with its gigantic masses of water acts as a heat heat reservoir. Particularly in the winter months, the water releases a lot of heat energy, which leads to extremely mild and short winters. and short winters. Due to this balanced climate climate, the growing season is unusually long and frost is rare. frost is rare. Plant parts that die and fall to the ground and fall to the ground are converted into new nutrients in biochemical converted into new nutrients in biochemical decomposition processes.


The treetops are home to epiphytes such as mosses and ferns. Due to the good air quality and high humidity humidity, temperate primary rainforests are also home to many lichens such as beard, crust and lung lichens. Lichens are a symbiosis of a fungus and an alga. The fungus provides the body, the algae carries out the photosynthesis. The lichens are blown down by storms and fall to the forest floor the forest floor, where they release their nutrients.

Sufficient water

In addition, the Pacific winds bring an extremely large amount of water into the forest, which in turn can be stored in the thick layer of moss and in the stored in the thick layer of moss and in the forest floor. This optimal nutrient and water supply, countless other plants grow alongside the trees countless other plants such as lichens, mosses and fungi grow alongside the trees, which in turn die off at some point. This creates a perpetual cycle in which each species contributes to an intact ecosystem. to an intact ecosystem.

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Tree habitat

If you protect 64 m2 of forest with us, for example, then it's not just about the area. Much more important are the hundreds of cubic meters of habitat that open up above this area up to the highest heights. heights. Some giant trees can grow up to 100 m high. high. This means they offer plenty of habitat for numerous animals and plants. And above all, the numerous niche habitats on the branches offer perfect conditions for a large for a wide variety of perching plants and animals.
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Eagle's nest

The bald eagle not only lands on the highest trees trees, it also builds the heaviest nests (= eyries) of all bird species. Often referred to as the "master builder", it returns returns to its permanent home again and again over the years. again and again for years. The nests can end up weighing up to a ton. weigh.

Northern sliding squirrel

In the upper storeys of the trees, the gliding squirrel collects nuts, lichens, berries and mushrooms, but also spurns the bark of trees. the bark of the trees.

Ring spinner

The ringlet moth is a moth. The female lays up to 300 eggs on a branch. The caterpillars hatching caterpillars spin a tent-like nest, from which they forage together.


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

North Pacific tree frog

Like most amphibian species, frogs also have excellent have excellent adhesion and climbing abilities. By means of the adhesive forces of the moist abdominal skin and the the undersides of their limbs, they attach themselves to the bark of tree bark.

Licorice fern

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

Beard braiding

"Tree beard" grows longer and longer in the moist, clean air over longer and longer over decades. They give the trees their fabulous green robe.


A puma, also known as a mountain lion, is very agile and strong. powerful. It is able to jump from the ground up to 5.5 m high into a tree. It hides high up You can only see it when it wants to.

Leaf lichens

Lichens are combinations of one species of fungus and one type of algae. Fungus and algae are not viable on their own not viable on their own, they have formed an inseparable inseparable combination and thus form a new, independent new, independent species. In addition, bacterial colonies live live on the lichen and bind nitrogen from the air, which the fungus in the lichen body also gratefully absorbs. also gratefully absorbs.

The leaf lichen, like the beard lichen, its large relative, binds carbon. its larger relative, binds carbon. If the lichens growing on lichens growing on the trees become too large and heavy heavy, they fall down and are decomposed on the forest floor decompose on the forest floor, releasing nutrients that in turn in turn promote the growth of the tree.

Woodpecker cave

The breeding cavity is created by woodpeckers in order to lay eggs and raise the young. When the woodpeckers have left them, they are still used as a nesting as a nesting site or hiding place for many other animals. animals.

Small animals and insects

Countless animal species find their habitat in the temperate rainforest: salamanders, frogs and snails snails enjoy the thick, moist moss cushions; Butterflies and beetles find their food in flowers, leaves, fruit and decaying wood, leaves, fruits and decaying wood. Together they are together they are an important part of the constant exchange in the ecosystem, which is fed by solar energy.

Blueberry bushes

The delicate Alaskan blueberry has a high antioxidant content. of antioxidants. It is not only the largest of its species, it is also effective against cancer.

Virginia eagle owl

The Virginia eagle owl is one of the largest owls in the temperate rainforest. For nesting, it looks for abandoned nests of other birds or uses cavities in trees. It prefers prefer to stay in the dense, shady treetops when it is not tree canopy when it is not hunting for mice.


The "Townsend's Chipmunk" grows up to 31 cm tall and is therefore a a particularly large chipmunk. It likes to sunbathe on trees. Unlike our squirrels it lives in a burrow.

Moss mats

The moss mats grow very slowly and show that the tree is already tree is already very old. They provide a habitat for many microorganisms and plants such as the licorice fern. licorice fern. The temperate rainforest has over 600 species of species of moss, which are also used by the First Nations to used by the First Nations to treat wounds (haemostatic effect) and as used as pillows.

Leopard snail

Up to an impressive 20 cm long, it is a predator that likes to feed on other nudibranchs and their eggs. feeds on them.

Evening core bites

The evening grosbeak is a songbird from the finch family. of the finches. Evening grosbeaks usually travel in flocks. on the move. They call constantly so as not to lose contact not lose contact with each other. When the seeds of the maple seeds are ripe, they are a reliable harvest.

Cinnamon raspberry

The edible fruits taste wonderfully of cinnamon and raspberries raspberries, and besides being used as food by the First Nations of the Pacific coast, they are also used as a remedy for coughs, diarrhea and birth pains.

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The long journey of the salmon

The fascinating journey of salmon in Western Canada's rainforests, their central role in a fragile ecosystem that ecosystem that includes bears and orcas, and the threat to this cycle from human to this cycle through human intervention are illuminated.

How the cycle works

Salmon are born in jungle streams

One fifth of the world's salmon stocks originate in the streams and rivers of the temperate rainforest region of western Western Canada's temperate rainforest!
This is where one of the most important important cycles that keep the West Coast alive. For salmon are born here, and from here they migrate to the sea. the sea.

The rainforest plays an important role in keeping the salmon birth streams healthy and cool. The roots roots hold the banks together, the trees shade the water and their and their wood, leaves and needles provide important nutrients. nutrients.

The salmon migrate into the sea and are food for orcas

Salmon are an important food source in the sea. are an important food source. Orca whales, for example, are dependent on salmon as their main source of food. Especially on the salmon, which are particularly sensitive to changes in the ecosystem ecosystem in their natal streams.

The salmon migrate back to their natal streams and are food for mammals and birds

After two years in the ocean, millions of salmon set off from the sea from the sea on the arduous return journey upstream. They want to spawn in the same place where they were born. they were born. Up on the rivers, the grizzly bears are already waiting waiting to fish the fish out of the water, because they are fat reserves for their hibernation. And also coastal wolves, ravens and eagles also love the nutritious salmon. They sometimes even carry the fish into the forest to eat them eat them there in peace. And because there is an abundance of food food is plentiful, the bears, wolves and eagles usually only select the finest parts of the fish and leave plenty of leftovers.

Important nutrients for trees

The remaining salmon remains decompose and are broken down into their chemical into their chemical components. The soil is thus enriched by the animals every year with important nutrients nutrients, above all nitrogen. Scientists have even found evidence of marine nitrogen compounds in the nitrogen compounds of marine origin even in the highest treetops.

A sensitive cycle

If even a single "salmon run" is destroyed by deforestation and the resulting siltation and the rise in river temperature rise in the rivers, or disturbed by the fishing by the fishing industry, the natural cycle is severely is severely interrupted. The hunters of the salmon are affected by this, bears, wolves, eagles and orcas, are directly affected. If the salmon are missing, they do not have enough food. And if they salmon into the forest, there is a lack of important nutrients nutrients for the growth of plants. The forest and its rivers are the habitat for the salmon and their hunters. its hunters. Clear-cutting disrupts the entire cycle. disturbed.

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2. biodiversity

Why is there such a great diversity of species?

The exact causes of the extraordinarily high species diversity in temperate rainforests are still the subject of subject of scientific research.

However, factors such as the undisturbed development over millions of years, the year-round sunlight, the high high levels of precipitation, the mild climatic conditions and the optimal and optimal nutrient supply play an important role. play an important role.

All this has led to a complex vegetation structure and a a multitude of ecological niches. In the different layers of the forest, a wide range of animals specialized of animals specialized in the different layers of the forest, creating interactions developed. Undisturbed by human influence influence, this has ultimately led to ever greater has ultimately led to an ever-increasing diversity of species.

The wolf's den and the tree

1 - Why do trees die?

The trees in our protected areas can live for over a thousand years! old! But even they don't live forever. After living for many centuries, they sometimes find it harder to defend themselves harder to protect themselves against diseases, pests and storms. storms. They also find it difficult to environmental changes and competition from younger trees. to react.

Why do trees die?

2 - an old giant tree falls over

If the tree is no longer strong enough, it falls over. This can happen happen due to a storm or lightning strike, or because a bark beetle bark beetle has interrupted its nutrient transport.

An old giant tree falls over

3 - Deadwood or nurse tree?

Now the tree lies in the forest as dead wood. But it is full of life! It is particularly important for biodiversity because it provides provides habitat and food for insects and birds. In addition decomposition by fungi and bacteria releases important nutrients are released. As a result, the "nurse tree" offers perfect conditions for new, young tree seedlings to grow on it. it.

Deadwood or nurse tree?

4 - the next generation

In its elevated position and thanks to the many nutrients from the tree, the young tree will grow to great heights over the next hundred years. years to great heights. Its roots grow completely around the nurse tree completely. Between its roots, the old trunk roots piece by piece into light, loose soil again.

the next generation of wolves

5 - the wolves are coming

Female wolves look for a den to give birth to their young. den. This is almost always located under the roots of of mighty, centuries-old trees. This is because in the loose earth between the roots of the new tree, the mother wolf can dig a den. dig a den. There, under the protection of the old tree, she can and raise her cubs under the protection of the old tree.

the wolves are coming

6 - Nursery

This process only takes place in forests that have been undisturbed forests. Therefore, wolves are dependent on primeval forests for their the future of their species. The wolf dens are located in the middle of the wolves' territory, preferably in an place with a good view and easy access to water and prey. water and prey.

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Nursery of the wolves

Other exciting species

There is still a healthy grizzly population in the west coast rainforest. grizzly population. When there is plenty to eat, a mother gives birth to 3-4 cubs in a year. born in a year. They feed mainly on the vegetation of the the extensive estuaries and in the fall on salmon. salmon in the fall. During hibernation, the root cavities of old trees are of old trees are popular.
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
The king of the skies can reach a wingspan of up to reach up to 3m. Bald eagles and countless waterfowl also look forward to the bears' "salmon leftovers" from the bears.
Coastal Wolves
Coastal Wolves
The wolves in the Canadian rainforest eat salmon like the grizzlies eat salmon and prove to be quite skillful fish catchers. Wolves live with ravens in an interesting interesting symbiosis when it comes to foraging together. foraging together. Even if you can hear their howling coastal wolves are extremely shy, which makes you lucky enough to catch one of these rare animals. animals.
Canada's temperate rainforest is dominated by conifers conifers, such as Sitka spruces, Giant Life Trees, yews and hemlocks. The maple is one of the of the rarer deciduous trees. In the natural forests, all of these trees occur in mixed stands. A size record holder is the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). In up to 700 years well over 100 m high. It loves humid, rainy climate. Because of its rapid growth and growth and wood quality, it is particularly popular with particularly popular with forestry companies: clear-cuts are often often only reforested with Douglas firs, which are cut down again after 25 - 70 are cut down again after 25 - 70 years.

We have to start stopping.

Everyone knows about the value of and threat to the Amazon forests. But hardly anyone talks about the forgotten ecosystem of British Columbia: it is home to the last large large contiguous area of temperate rainforest in the world. world. And yet British Columbia, of all places, is one of the of the last jurisdictions in the world that continues to large-scale deforestation of 600 to 1,800-year-old rainforest giants. old primeval forest giants.

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Between 2003 -2010, deforestation in BC was responsible for a higher annual CO2-emissions than Finland as a whole. The main causes are the timber industry, agriculture and the construction of infrastructure.

Why WI protects forests in Canada

  1. Are there any primeval forests left?

    70% of Canada is made up of large natural areas. 34% of the of the country is covered by forest, 53% of which is old-growth forest. In total, Canada is home to 20% of the world's remaining wilderness areas.

  2. Are the existing habitats important for the conservation of biodiversity?

    The temperate rainforest is considered the most species-rich ecosystem in the temperate climate zone. Its primeval forests are home to a unique diversity of species and giant giant trees that are thousands of years old. Rare ghost flowers are are at home here, as are bears, wolves and eagles.

  3. Is the ecosystem relevant for a healthy climate?

    The forests in our protected areas are absolute masters of CO2-storage and one of the most important "sinks" in the earth's carbon cycle. They also make an important contribution to cooling and purification of the air and to water storage.

  4. Property rights: Can we buy land with legal certainty and protect it in the long term?

    Canada is a constitutional state with strict regulations on property relations. This makes arbitrary expropriation impossible. Damage entails comprehensive sanctions. The British Columbia Trespass Act clearly prohibits trespassing on private
    land. Violations are prosecuted in court.

Forest protected by you

From a global perspective, primeval forests are our most important buffer against man-made climate change. Protecting them them is our top priority if we want to save the climate. want to save the climate.

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Kai Andersch

Forest scientist, Chairman of the Board

About WI

We buy wilderness areas and protect them for the future - legally secure and long-term with entry in the land register. 


The purchases are refinanced through donations, which at the same time ensure the long-term protection of the areas as well as environmental education projects and research into CO2-storage and biodiversity.


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As a donor, you will receive a personalized certificate with aerial photograph and the geocoordinates of your protected forest - so the impact is transparent and traceable.