California’s North Coast
At the southern reaches of this bioregion, in the Redwood country, you will find the Trees Foundation service area. Its forests and salmon have for millennia determined the area’s social and economic fabric. Rich with life, although rare and vulnerable, this forest with its thin soils, steep slopes, and high rainfall is ill suited to industrial logging yet contains some of the world’s most valuable commercial timber lands. Since the first lumber mills and commercial fisheries opened in Humboldt County in the mid-1800s, the pattern of biomass withdrawal has been continuous and unrelenting. Coho salmon runs have declined to less than 1% of their former abundance, ancient forests less than 3%.
Coastal Temperate Rainforests of North America
Coastal temperate rainforests cover just one-fifth of one percent of the earth’s land area, with the vast majority located along North America’s Pacific Northwest. Abundant winter rainfall, mild temperatures, and a nearly snow-free climate allow rapid tree growth while frequent summer fog sustains one of the most biologically productive ecosystems on earth. The biomass (weight of organic matter) in some locations is four times as great as that of any comparable area in the tropics. Despite this enormous biodiversity, coastal temperate rainforests are among the least-studied ecosystems. Although scientists have recognized temperate rain forests for over fifty years, the term “coastal” temperate rain forest has been recognized for only a decade.