From the iLCP:
One of the rarest ecosystems on Earth, the Tongass rain forest fringes the coastal panhandle of Alaska and covers thousands of islands in the Alexander Archipelago.
It’s a place where humpback whales, orcas, and sea lions cruise the forested shorelines. Millions of wild salmon swim upstream into the forest, feeding some of the world’s highest densities of grizzlies, black bears, and bald eagles.
Native cultures and local communities benefit from the gifts of both the forest and the sea. It’s a place that is still
thriving as it has for millennia.
Remarkably, all of the species that existed at the time of European settlement in the 1700s are still here. But the global demands of our modern world may threaten this great forest’s biological treasures. Is it just a matter of time until this glorious part of the planet is carved up into scraps of its magnificent self?
Acclaimed photographer Amy Gulick, a Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, spent two years paddling and trekking among the bears, misty islands, and salmon streams to document the intricate connections within the Tongass, the largest national forest in the United States, and home to nearly a third of the world’s remaining old-growth temperate rain forest.
Her book, “Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest” , is a tribute to one of the wildest and rarest ecosystems in the world. “There is still time to get it right here, to conserve this astounding ecosystem for the benefit of both people and wildlife,” says Gulick. “The question is will we?”
In the Tongass National Forest of Alaska, more than 4,500 spawning streams support millions of wild salmon. This abundance helps explain why the Tongass region has the world's highest nesting density of bald eagles, and why there are eighty bears for every one found inland far from salmon streams. More than fifty species have been documented feeding on salmon including: bald eagles, ravens, bears, wolves, sea lions, orcas, and people. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org
More than 5,000 islands comprise part of the Tongass National Forest, located along the coastal panhandle of Alaska. In part, due to all of the islands, no point on land is far from the sea. Bears dig for clams on the beaches and roots in the forest. The marbled murrelet, a seabird, nests high in the trees and feeds in the ocean. People in this part of the world fish for salmon, halibut, and crab from the sea, and harvest berries and mushrooms from the forest. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org
The Tongass National Forest of Alaska boasts the highest density of black bears in the world, and one of the world's highest densities of brown bears. The abundance of bears is due, in part, to healthy wild salmon runs in more than 4,500 spawning streams throughout the region. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org
In the Tongass region of Southeast Alaska, bears are responsible for moving great quantities of salmon from the streams into the forest. The nutrients from the bodies of the fish filter down into the soil, and the trees absorb them through their roots. Scientists have traced a particular form of marine nitrogen found in trees near salmon streams that links back to the fish. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org
The commercial salmon fishery in Alaska has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as one of the world's best examples of a sustainable fishery. In addition, salmon and trout contribute nearly $1 billion to the economy of Southeast Alaska, and account for one in 10 jobs in the region. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org
Industrial-scale, clear-cut logging in the Tongass National Forest began in the middle of the 20th century after World War II. Clear-cut logging and its associated road building activities reduce food and shelter for many wildlife species, and can cause soil erosion that may degrade salmon streams and sources of food, drinking water, and long-term employment for people. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org
At 17 million acres, about the size of the state of West Virginia, the Tongass is the largest national forest in the United States. It contains close to one-third of the world's remaining old-growth coastal temperate rain forest, and the largest reserves of intact old-growth forest left in the nation. In addition, it is ranked as one of the top ten national forests in the United States for its ability to store carbon and regulate global climate. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org
Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska's Tongass Rain Forest is a multimedia project that raises awareness about one of the rarest and wildest ecosystems remaining on Earth. Salmon in the Trees: Photographs © Amy Gulick/salmoninthetrees.org