Biodiversity helps maintain ecosystem function and resilience, and has intrinsic value.
Above: some mushroom and lichen species found in old growth forests surrounding us
The inland temperate rainforest contains species and ecological communities that are significant on a global scale. A vast number of plants, animals, lichens, and fungi live here; many of which depend on each other for their survival. Scientists are still discovering new species in BC's old growth inland rainforests, and finding others that were previously believed to exist only in coastal rainforests.
Wildlife species richness is high in the inland rainforest in part because it supports both riparian species (i.e., animals that use streams or other water sources) such as frogs, fish, raptors, beavers, as well as forest-dwelling species like caribou, grizzly bears, wolverines, moose and wolves.
Some of the fungal species that live and grow in the interior rainforest are currently used, or show promise for being used, in a variety of health products and medical treatments [e.g., Chaga, Turkey Tail and Lion's Mane (common names)].
The inland rainforest also supports an extraordinary richness of lichen species. The diversity and abundance of lichens and lichen communities in the inland rainforest are unparalleled to any others on the planet. Some of the arboreal (tree) lichens here will only grow in old growth forests ( >250 yrs). The treetops of old growth inland rainforests have been measured by the heavy weight of their "lichen canopy", with some of these lichens a critical food resource for endangered mountain caribou.
The inland temperate rainforest is perhaps the most species-rich lichen (epiphytic and oceanic lichens) temperate rainforest in the world,
with many taxa only recently described and others yet to be identified.*
*Reference: DellaSala, D.A.; Strittholt, J.; Degagne, R.; Mackey, B.; Werner, J.R.; Connolly, M.; Coxson, D.; Couturier, A.; Keith, H. Red-Listed Ecosystem Status of Interior Wetbelt and Inland Temperate Rainforest of British Columbia, Canada. Land 2021, 10, 775. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/land10080775