Interesting facts about this unique ecosystem, also a quote from the book:
Temperate rain-forests are found along coasts in the middle latitudes, occurring between the tropics and the polar regions–about 23 degrees to 66 degrees latitude, both north and south of the equator. The world's largest of these are on the pacific coasts of North America, stretching from northern California through southern Alaska.
Because the climate is more extreme than that of a tropical rain-forest–summer temperatures can rise to nearly 80◦ and winter temperatures to nearly freezing–evergreen broadleaf trees are replaced by evergreen coniferous species, which are better adapted to shed snow and to photosynthesize in cold temperatures. The colder climate attributes to slower decomposition of forest litter, made even slower by the acidity of conifer needles. A large tree that falls can take almost as long to decompose as it did to reach a prodigious size.
These forests are among the most productive in North America, and contain some of the world's largest and long-lived trees. Many trees reach well over 300 feet in height. These forests consist of so much bio-mass, in sheer volume of living and decaying material–trees, mosses, shrubs, and soil–that they are the most massive ecosystem on the planet–at about 500 tons per acre, at least 4 times greater than that of any comparable area in the tropical rain-forest.