One of the rarest types of forest on earth, coastal temperate rainforests only ever covered about 2.5 percent of the earth’s surface. Over time, much of that has been heavily impacted by human settlement and logging.
The Great Bear Rainforest, on the north and central coast of British Columbia, is the largest intact tract of this forest type left in the world – which is why the efforts to secure its protection have taken on global significance.
A few magnificent and critical tracts of ancient temperate rainforest still exist outside the Great Bear, but their future remains uncertain.
The last stands of ancient rainforest on Vancouver Island are one example of this extremely rare forest ecosystem. Once heavily forested, with thousand year old cedars and Sitka spruce trees as tall as a 20 story building, over three-quarters of the Island’s productive ancient forests have been lost to logging, urban growth and development.
The remaining, isolated stands of ancient forest provide crucial species habitat and store significant amounts of carbon, playing a key role in helping to stabilize the climate. They are also among the few easily accessible old-growth temperate rainforests, giving residents and visitors alike the opportunity to experience the wonder of trees so large it takes a dozen or more people, arms outstretched and fingers touching to even circle their girth.