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5 Facts About BC’s Unique Temperate Rainforest

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Rainforest Trail in the Pacific Rim | Cristina Gareau
Rainforest Trail in the Pacific Rim | Cristina Gareau

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Everything in the rainforest is connected, a cycle of life in perfect balance. From the lush green that carpets the base of towering, centuries-old trees, to the salmon that attract grizzlies, black bears, and birds to feed, it’s an environment that nourishes everything in it. No wonder so many people—lives entrenched in technology, disconnected from nature, and sometimes each other—are drawn to the tranquillity of the rainforest.

Tune in with these rainforest facts:

Note: This story (originally published in January 2018) was updated in 2021.

Haida Gwaii | Grant Harder

1. Breathe Easier

Less than 10% of the world’s land surface is rainforest, yet rainforests are responsible for nearly one-third of the world’s oxygen production.  You know you’re breathing fresh rainforest air when you see lichen hanging from trees. Some lichens have survived for thousands of years and are extremely susceptible to pollution.

Cathedral Grove | Sean Scott

2. BC's Temperate Rainforest

Close to 25% of the world’s temperate rainforest is in BC. Most of it is coastal (where you’ll find the protected Great Bear Rainforest), but BC is also home to the Ancient Forest, a rare inland rainforest near Prince George.

Vancouver Island| Tom Ryan

3. Tropical vs. Temperate

What’s the difference between BC’s temperate rainforest and a tropical rainforest? Tropical rainforests are warmer and close to the equator. Temperate rainforests are at latitudes between the two Tropics and Polar Circles. What they have in common is a lot of rain, which allows the lush rainforest canopies to flourish.

Mushrooms are abundant in the rainforest | @Leslieyip0911 via Twitter

4. Temperate Richness

Compared to tropical rainforests, temperate rainforests decompose slowly, resulting in a rich vegetation base (including a variety of mushrooms) but few tree varieties (mostly coniferous), due to the climate and low light levels.

Spirit Bear | Clare Levy

5. The Wildlife

A diverse collection of wildlife calls BC’s rainforest home, including five species of salmon, multiple bird varieties (including the bald eagle), black-tailed deer, grey wolf, grizzly bear, and black bear. The elusive Kermode (Spirit) bear, found in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest, is a black bear with a rare recessive gene. 

For details on BC’s coastal rainforest visit the Canadian Wildlife Federation.  For a closer look at the Great Bear Rainforest check out BC’s Great Bear Rainforest.

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