The conservation of the largest contiguous temperate rainforest in the world, which hugs the West Coast from Northern California into Alaska, is essential for defense of the climate. Cascadia Times’ Coastal Rainforest Project will investigate climate impacts of unchecked logging in the largest contiguous temperate rainforest in the world, which hugs the West Coast from Northern California into Alaska.

It will include more than a dozen articles that clearly explain the science showing how conservation of the rainforest is essential for defense of the climate.  Our content will be richly illustrated with an atlas of the rainforest.

Government agencies managing the forest fail to understand its value to the climate. Rainforests are the world’s greatest carbon sink, absorbing massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in roots, trunks, branches, needles and leaves.

Succumbing to industry pressure and political influence, agencies allow full-throttle logging in the rainforest without regard to climate impacts, robbing us of indispensable climate change mitigation.

The expansive Amazon tropical rainforest of South America is the world’s largest terrestrial carbon sink. Our research found on a per-acre basis, the North American coastal temperate rainforest is much more efficient at absorbing carbon than the Amazon. The Douglas fir forests of Oregon and the Sitka spruce forests of Alaska store about twice as much carbon per acre as the Amazon. The giant redwoods of Northern California store seven times as much.

Several factors work against the preservation of this rainforest. Organizations like Ecotrust, GEOS Institute and the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center identify it as one continuous rainforest, but few others do. Unlike the Amazon, it is not a globally recognized brand, and doesn’t have an official name. There is no campaign to protect the forest as a whole.

Some segments of the rainforest enjoy protection as national parks and conservation areas, including the Redwood and Olympic National Parks, the Great Bear Rainforest and roadless areas on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. However, outside these areas, the bulk of the rainforest is open for logging.

In this issue of Cascadia Times, we highlight sustainable logging solutions that slow down, but not necessarily eliminate, timber harvests.

The year 2020 marks our 25th year of publishing Cascadia Times. And now Cascadia Times is entering a fresh new phase in its history with the relaunch of our print magazine, which went on hiatus in 2009.

We originally launched Cascadia Times in 1995 as a print publication that could connect our audiences with environmental problems and inspire them to take positive action.

Utne Reader named Cascadia Times as one of the best new publications of the year. We felt we were off to a good start.

We had always defined the Cascadia region as the Pacific Northwest, from Northern California to Alaska and east to Montana and Idaho -- a land defined by great forests, salmon runs, majestic mountains and rivers. But we soon realized that it was much more than that. In 1998, we published one of our most important issues, Our Undersea Yellowstones, which recognized that this ecoregion didn’t stop at land’s end.

Wildlife in Cascadia -- the whales, salmon and sea turtles – spend much or all of their lives in the Pacific Ocean, and we realized that to cover the region, we need to pay attention to what’s happening in the sea. In 2003, we published “Plundering the Pacific,” an account of ecological abuses that had been occurring from Alaska to Hawaii.

In 2004, Plundering the Pacific won the prestigious John B Oakes Award, given to the most distinguished environmental journalism of the year by Columbia University School of Journalism. Runners up for the Oakes Award were the New York Times and the LA Times.

Why We Are Publishing in Print 

Our exhaustively reported content explores a complex mixture of science, economics, culture and politics. We richly illustrate the text with beautiful photography, detailed maps and graphics. This content is better suited for print, which enables readers to spend time with it without being chained to a computer. However, we also plan to publish the content online.  

Why Now

Last year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned we have only 12 years to act if we hope to limit global warming to moderate levels. The IPCC recognizes reducing emissions from deforestation as a critical component of climate change mitigation. 

The public needs to understand this rainforest’s value to the climate in order to make informed decisions about policy priorities and elected leadership. By focusing on climate, the conservation community can amplify its forest-protection advocacy work.

Our solutions-based journalism combines traditional methods of investigative journalism with innovative solutions journalism, using evidence-based reporting showing how communities can solve vexing environmental problems. Research proves solutions-oriented stories make readers more informed, optimistic and active in their communities. 


Paul Koberstein