5 Temperate Rainforests Around the World
Joseph Coppolino | October 21, 2021 | 4 min read
What Exactly is a Rainforest
Rainforests are ecosystems characterized by dense forests in regions with high amounts of precipitation and high levels of humidity. Rainforests are known for having dense tree canopies, mostly evergreen trees and several different levels of vegetation, based on the levels of water, sunlight and air circulation available.
The Amazon rainforest isn't the only rainforest on the planet. Do you know where in the world you can find the others? You might be surprised!
What is the Difference Between Tropical and Temperate Rainforests?
There are two main types of rainforests: tropical rainforests or temperate rainforests. The main difference is the forest's location. A tropical rainforestis located near the equator, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and has a warm climate. Temperate rainforests are further from the Equator, north of the Tropic of Cancer and to the Tropic of Capricorn and have a cooler climate.
When we think of rainforests, tropical rainforests are the forests that come to mind first. These are forests with dense canopies and a hot, moist climate, with heavy rain throughout the year. They are located within about 10 degrees of the equator and have average monthly temperatures exceeding 64° F. Tropical rainforests are quite common in the tropical regions. and are found in Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Sub-Saharan Africa, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Australia amongst others.
Temperate rainforests on the other hand, have mild climates and temperatures and can be defined as being rainforests found in the temperate zones. Temperate rainforests still receive high amounts of annual rainfall (at least 55 inches of rain per year), but at a cooler average temperature compared to tropical rainforests.
Where Are Temperate Rainforests Located
Temperate forests can be found in the temperate zones around the world, with the largest temperate forests being located on the Pacific coast of North America, extending from Alaska to Oregon. Pockets of temperate rainforest can also be found on the Southeast coast of South America, as well as in Northwestern Europe, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.
5 Temperate Rainforests From Around the World
Now that you have an idea of what a temperate rainforest actually is and how it differs from a tropical rainforest, here are a few unexpected and interesting places you can find temperate rainforests around the world.
1. Tongass National Forest
Ever thought there would be a rainforest in the United States?
Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States, covering more than 6.5 million hectares of Alaskan wilderness.
It is also the world's largest intact temperate rainforest. Amazingly, the Tongass actually encompasses fjords, the snowy peaks of the Coastal Mountains, and even glaciers!
Its inhabitants are just as diverse with many of the endangered species of North America found solely within its boundaries.
While much of the forest value previously came from logging operations, the region has transitioned to other less harmful industries like tourism, carbon sequestration, and sustainable fishing.
However, the Tongass' future is uncertain as the U.S. government seeks to open more of this long standing temperate rainforest to timber and resource exploitation.
2. Pacific Temperate Rainforests
Extending from Alaska down to Northern California, the Pacific Temperate Rainforest ecoregion is considered by the WWF as the planet's largest temperate rainforest ecoregion in the world.
Pocketed throughout the coastal stretch of forest there are a few pockets of rainforest that make the region quite unique. The Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia is nearly 6.5 million hectares.
Also known as the Central and North Coast forest, the Great Bear Rainforest earned its namesake from the diversity of bear species. Other rainforests in the region are made up of tree species like the Douglas fir, coastal Redwoods and Sitka spruce. All these trees are famous for their incredible beauty, enormous height, and ability to grow for thousands of years, making them the icons of the region.
This area is also particularly dear to our hearts because of its connection to our planting project to protect Southern Resident Orca and Salmon habitat.
3. Appalachian temperate rain forest
Another North American rainforest is the Appalachian temperate rainforest, which is located in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains in the Eastern United States.
The forest extends through the Appalachian areas of western North Carolina, southwest Virginia, southeastern Kentucky, northern South Carolina, northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.
The high mountain environment creates habitat for over 10,000 northern species, including 2,000 different types fungi species and animals such as black bears, moose, white tailed deer, chipmunks, foxes, a variety of birds and over 30 species of salamanders!
As for tree species of the Appalachian temperate forests, conifer trees like the spruce, fir and mixed woods can be found growing in this region.
4. Valdivian Temperate Rainforest
The Valdivian temperate rainforest can be found on the west coast of Argentina and Chile.
These forests are characterized by a dense understory of fern and bamboo, and have predominantly evergreen angiosperm trees.
Though little recognized around the world, parts of the Valdivian rainforest are quite famous. Doug Tompkins (founder of North Force, married to Kristine Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia) famously - some say infamously - opened the Parque Patagonia conservation area here.
5. Taiheiyo Evergreen Forests
The Taiheiyo Evergreen Forests is an ecoregion located in southern Japan, consisting of, predominantly, evergreen broadleaf trees.
The ecoregion spreads across an area of 53,400 square miles (an area about the size of Florida) on the Pacific (Taiheiyo) side of the islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushi.
The canopy's dominant tree species are the Japanese stone oak and the Japanese cedar, while the understory is composed of moso bamboo, mosses and lichens.
We hope you’ve learned something new about some of the word's most fascinating temperate rainforests.
It's important to note that while these forests are home to thousands of animal, plant and fungi species, they have been negatively affected by human activity such as farming, mining, logging and urbanization in the past years. This results in biodiversity and habitat loss, pollution and deforestation. If you want to help protect and restore these forests, along with many other types of forests around the world, consider planting a tree with us today!