This zone extends from the northwest and northern parts of the Iberian Peninsula (including the Pyrenees) north to include Great Britain and Ireland and on to the western shores of Norway as far north as the islands of Hitra and Froga. On the European mainland the Armorican Massif, the Aquitanian and Parisian Basins, the Central Massif, and most of the German lowlands are included.

Atlantic European Coniferous Forests

Although the moist climate of this zone is not ideal for conifers with their adaptions to drought, there are some important pine forests.  The two main species are Pinus sylvestris (scotts pine) in the north and Pinus pinaster (maritime pine) in the south. There are also a few natural forests of Taxus buccata (yew). Natural Scottish pinewoods can be found in the central and eastern Highlands where they are often associated with mountain slopes. Associated trees may include Alnus glutinosa, Betula pubescens, Populus tremula and Sorbus aucuparia. Typical shrub layer species include Calluna vulgaris, Juniperus communis, Vaccinium myrtillus and Vaccinium vitis-idaea. The field layers can, however, be extremely interesting supporting various uncommon northern species such as Moneses uniflora, Orthilia secunda, Pyrola media, P. minor, P. rotundifolia and Trientalis europaea.


Moore, K. 1990. Where Is It and How Much is Left? The State of the Temperate Rainforest in British Columbia. Forest Planning Canada, 6:15.

Polunin, O. & Walters, M. 1985. A guide to the vegetation of Britain and Europe. Oxford University Press.

Ratcliffe, D. A. 1968. An ecological account of the Atlantic bryophytes in the British Isles. New Phytologist, 67: 365-439.

Rhind, P. M. 2003. Comment: Britain’s contribution to global conservation and our coastal temperate rainforest.  British Wildlife, 15: 97-102.