Temperate Coniferous Forest

Temperate evergreen forests are found predominantly in areas with warm summers and cool winters, and vary enormously in their kinds of plant life. In some, needleleaf trees dominate, while others are home primarily to broadleaf evergreen trees or a mix of both tree types.

Temperate evergreen forests are common in the coastal areas of regions that have mild winters and heavy rainfall, or inland in drier climates or montane areas. Many species of trees inhabit these forests including pine, cedar, fir, and redwood.

The understory also contains a wide variety of herbaceous and shrub species. Temperate conifer forests sustain the highest levels of biomass in any terrestrial ecosystem and are notable for trees of massive proportions in temperate rainforest regions.

Structurally, these forests are rather simple, consisting of 2 layers generally: an overstory and understory. However, some forests may support a layer of shrubs. Pine forests support an herbaceous groundlayer that may be dominated by grasses and forbs that lend themselves to ecologically important wildfires. In contrast, the moist conditions found in temperate rain forests favor the dominance by ferns and some forbs.

Temperate rain forests only occur in 7 regions around the world - the Pacific Northwest, the Validivian forests of southwestern South America, the rain forests of New Zealand and Tasmania, the Northeastern Atlantic (small, isolated pockets in Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland), southwestern Japan, and those of the eastern Black Sea.

Forest communities dominated by huge trees (e.g., giant sequoia, Sequoiadendron gigantea; redwood, Sequoia sempervirens; mountain ash, Eucalyptus regnans), an unusual ecological phenomena, occur in western North America, southwestern South America, as well as in the Australasian region in such areas as southeastern Australia and northern New Zealand.

The Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion of western North America harbors diverse and unusual assemblages and displays notable endemism for a number of plant and animal taxa.

Biodiversity Patterns
Most tree species and larger vertebrates have relatively widespread distributions; considerable local endemism and beta diversity occurs in some ecoregions in invertebrates, understory plants, and lichens, particularly in rain forests or on unusual soils; may have extremely diverse invertebrate faunas or herbaceous floras; altitudinal specialization occurs but is less pronounced than in the tropics.

Minimum Requirements
Disturbance regimes such as fire, windthrow, and epizootics can vary considerably within this major habitat type, but the extremes are typically of sufficient size and frequency as to make small patches of natural forest have only limited conservation value; many species highly specialized on late-successional forests; larger carnivores very wide-ranging with large home ranges; some species track resources that vary widely in space in time (e.g., epizootic outbreaks, fire events, cone production) requiring large natural landscapes.

Sensitivity to Disturbance
Larger carnivores highly sensitive to human activities including low intensity hunting; large number of species highly sensitive to logging and fragmentation of natural forests, particularly late-successional species; late-successional species and features typically regenerate slowly; many temperate forests require periodic fires to maintain successional processes and many species; exotic species can have extensive and significant impacts on natural forest communities.


India, Nepal, Pakistan
Southern Asia: Western Nepal, northern India and into eastern Pakistan


Wasatch and Uinta montane forests
Southeastern conifer forests
South Central Rockies forests
Sierra Nevada forests
Sierra Juarez and San Pedro Martir pine-oak forests
Puget lowland forests
Piney Woods forests
Okanagan dry forests
Northern transitional alpine forests
Northern Pacific coastal forests
Northern California coastal forests
North Central Rockies forests
Middle Atlantic coastal forests
Great Basin montane forests
Fraser Plateau and Basin complex
Florida sand pine scrub
Eastern Cascades forests
Colorado Rockies forests
Central Pacific coastal forests
Central British Columbia Mountain forests
Central and Southern Cascades forests
Cascade Mountains leeward forests
British Columbia mainland coastal forests
Blue Mountains forests
Atlantic coastal pine barrens
Arizona Mountains forests
Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests
Alberta Mountain forests


Tian Shan montane conifer forests
Scandinavian coastal conifer forests
Central Asia Southern Russia into northern Mongolia
Eastern Asia: Southern China
Eastern Asia: Central China
Nujiang Langcang Gorge alpine conifer and mixed forests
Western Asia: Northern Turkey, extending along the southern Black Sea region
Southern Asia: Tibet, India, and central Bhutan
Northern Africa: Algeria and Morocco and Tunisia
Central Asia: West central
Eastern Asia: northeastern Honshu and part of Hokkaido in Japan
Hengduan Mountains subalpine conifer forests
Helanshan montane conifer forests
Northern Iran
Pakistan and Afghanistan
Da Hinggan-Dzhagdy Mountains conifer forests
Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine
Western Europe: Northern Scotland, United Kingdom
Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Russia, China, and Mongolia
Southern Europe: The Alps of northern Italy, southern France, Switzerland, and Slovenia