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10 Temperate and Boreal Rainforest Regions of the World

In 2011, Geos Institute and partners completed an updated global synthesis of temperate and boreal rainforests of the world, using advanced computer mapping and local partnerships with 32 scientists to identify just ten regions of the world that qualified as temperate and boreal rainforest:

temperate rainforests ten regions geos

  1. Pacific Coast of North America (redwoods to Alaska containing the greatest extent of these rainforests globally)
  2. Inland northwest British Columbia and portions of Idaho and Montana
  3. Eastern Canada (portions of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, eastern Quebec)
  4. Europe (Norway is boreal; British Isles, Ireland, Swiss Alps, and Bohemia are temperate);
  5. Western Eurasian Caucasus (Georgia, Turkey, Iran)
  6. Russian Far East and Inland Southern Siberia (transitional between boreal and temperate)
  7. Japan and Korea
  8. Australasia (Australian mainland, Tasmania, New Zealand)
  9. South Africa (Knysna-Tsitsikamma)
  10. Chile & Argentina (Valdivia temperate rainforests)

Collectively, these rainforests regions make up about 250 million acres of the Earth’s total forest cover (or 2.5 percent). About 35 percent are found along the Pacific Coast from the redwoods to Alaska, including British Columbia. About 10 percent of this (26 million acres) is in the Pacific Northwest (USA) and coastal Alaska with the remainder (25 percent) in British Columbia. In particular, Alaska’s coastal rainforest (mostly notably along the Tongass National Forest) are of global importance, containing about one-third of the world’s old-growth (or primary, unlogged) rainforests.

Globally, temperate and boreal rainforests provide habitat for scores of rare and unique species such as monkey-puzzle trees of Chile that have ancient affinities dating back to a time when the continents were joined as Gondwanaland even before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. In the Pacific Northwest, they include massive redwoods and some of the tallest firs and spruces in the world such as those on the Olympic National Forest in Washington. And they support complex food webs consisting of grizzly bears and wolves feeding on salmon in Canada’s Great Bear rainforests and rainforest lichens eaten by mountain caribou in the inland rainforests of British Columbia, Montana, and Idaho. Around the world, temperate and boreal rainforests are home to tigers, bears, six-foot long salamanders, primates, unique plants, and ancient trees.

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