September 21, 2014

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Photograph by John Eastcott and Yva Momatiuk, National Geographic

Vegetation grows wildly in an old-growth forest on Victoria Island, British Columbia. Low light, poor soils, and at least ten feet of rain a year create this temperate rain forest wonderland. Though the ground cover may look like mere duff, mosses provide a vital moist seedbed for young conifers, rotting lichens enrich the soil with essential nitrogen, and certain fungi provide trees with nutrients, water, and protection from root pathogens.

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