| The western
and northern reaches of Vancouver Island are in the biogeoclimatic
zone named for its dominant species, the Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.
The generous precipitation suits this species well, and its success
is also aided by its tolerance of shady canopies. Sitka Spruce (Picea
sitchensis) also likes the moist valley bottoms of the west coast,
and is especially associated with the salt-drenched Pacific shore.
Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata) thrives, too, in the wet areas, and
was a key element in the lives of First Nations peoples. The largest
redcedar in the world, with a circumference of 20 meters (61 feet)
lives on Meares Island.
here is dense, with lush thickets of Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
growing head-high and almost impenetrable. Scattered shrubs of blueberry
and huckleberry reach for sunlight, while delicate Bleeding-heart
(Dicentra formosa) makes its living in the shade of its companions.
In these dark
cathedrals, tiny Winter Wrens live up to their Latin name, Troglodytes
troglodytes; it means "cave-dwelling cave-dweller". Their
rollicking songs are necessary to advertise the territory of such
a minute of a beast in these forests. The ethereal reedy calls of
the Varied Thrushes (Ixoreus naevius) carry through the timber,
locationless to us, but like a homing beacon to a mate.
In the forest canopy, entomologist Dr. Neville Winchester has discovered
not only new species, but also new families of creatures. His research
in six canopy stations, dizzyingly far above the forest floor, has
shown that each station has its own set of unique species. The canopy
is home, too, for the nests of the enigmatic little seabird known
as the Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus).
As our knowledge of the biodiversity in these rainforests grows,
we learn that there is yet more undiscovered. These are places of
great power and beauty, from the lush understory, to the tops of
the tallest spruces.
There is access to these west coast rainforests at Carmanah
Pacific Provincial Park, and also in Pacific
Rim National Park.