Creating win-win actions for people and nature

British Columbia’s inland temperate rainforest is a conservation priority not only for wildlife and their habitat, but as a nationally important hotspot for the benefits that people get from nature.

This is due in part to its high capacity to store aboveground carbon, tremendous provision of freshwater, and significance for recreation.

Today, a prime opportunity exists for win-win actions that protect rare ecosystems and at-risk species, and safeguard vital benefits that people get from nature.

The inland temperate rainforest stands out

Fed by plenty of rain and heavy winter snows, the productivity and diversity of this region allows wildlife to thrive.

Found nowhere else on the planet, the inland temperate rainforest of southeastern British Columbia is home to old-growth forest and at-risk species such as wolverines, grizzly bears, and mountain caribou.

Map: G. Utzig, M.Sc. P.Ag., Kutenai Nature Investigations Ltd.

The ecosystem also provides many benefits to people and communities — fresh air, drinking water, forest products, and a host of ways to support human physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

New analysis by researchers from the University of British Columbia shows that across B.C.’s biogeoclimatic zones, the inland temperate rainforest is significant for many reasons.

Provincially, this is one of the wettest zones with the highest diversity of tree species. This region stores high amounts of aboveground carbon in its forests.

It is also exceptionally important for freshwater provision. This southern Interior Cedar-Hemlock zone has the highest density of overlapping carbon storage and freshwater provision hotspots in the province.

In addition, Canada-wide research shows this region as a hotspot for nature-based outdoor recreation.

This research brief provides a summary of new research on ecosystem services in B.C.’s inland temperate rainforest, as well as highlights from the Upper Columbia basin and southern mountain caribou habitat.

A conservation priority

B.C.’s inland temperate rainforest is a conservation priority not only for its biodiversity, but because of its ability to provide critical ecosystem services for people.

These globally unique forests have a high capacity to store carbon, provide essential freshwater for millions of people and industry, and are of significance for outdoor recreation as well as other important benefits.

This region contains a high amount of overlapping carbon storage and freshwater hotspots in B.C. and is a prime opportunity to protect both globally rare ecosystems and secure fundamental needs for people.

More about old growth in the Upper Columbia region

More about this research in a 2021 webinar

Additional reading and related resources

Review the research brief

Take a closer look at the full research paper

Learn about what makes the Upper Columbia unique

Header photo: Douglas Thorburn