Beautiful path in a forest during a vibrant summer day. Taken in Raft Cove Provincial Park, Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

1. Biodiversity in Coastal Forests

Biodiversity is the variety of life. The diversity of all living organisms and ecosystems of the planet. It includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems in which they live.

Scientists estimate that there are nearly 8.7 million species of plants and animals in existence on planet earth. However only around 1.6 million species have been identified and described so far. We still have only a rudimentary understanding of the relationships between species and within ecosystems.

To maintain biodiversity it is necessary to invest in protecting wild lands, and waters which sustain the largest variety of species and ecological process.

Sunset at Gospel Rock
Sunset at Gospel Rock

Welcome to our Understanding Biodiversity in Coastal Forests program.

This program introduces biodiversity basics and provides an overview of conservation concepts which can be applied to public lands within the Provincial Forest. It showcases the rich biodiversity of the Sunshine Coast, where and how our ecosystems are suffering and would benefit from more protection.

It is geared toward engaging and educating community members, and providing you with tools to become effective advocates for biodiversity conservation in coastal forests.

We start large, with the geography of the Sunshine Coast region. Then delve deeper, to learn about biogeoclimatic zones, subzones, and landscape unit systems. Within each of the Sunshine Coast landscape units, we explore old growth management and regionally significant watersheds for drinking water and fisheries values. We then go on to discuss habitat protection for some of our sensitive species such as the Marbled Murrelet old growth nesting habitat and the Mountain Goat Winter Ranges, and more!

You are at the start of the program and can move through by clicking the next page buttons at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can jump directly to any of the topics listed in the menu that is within the accordion labelled “In this section”.

If you have questions or suggestions about this presentation, feel free to email us at Also, we offer this as a live presentation, so if you would like us to present it to your group, give us a shout. We look forward to hearing from you!


The SCCA gratefully recognizes Mountain Equipment Co-op, Patagonia, Vancouver Foundation, Sunshine Coast Foundation and local donors’ support for this program.

Click the blue box above to view a list of pages in this section of the website.

Glossary of Terms

Biomass: refers to the total amount of organic matter (i.e., anything that comes from plants and animals). 

Biogeoclimatic (BEC) Zone: the classification system used to identify an area based on the dominant type of vegetation, climate, and soil characteristics at its climax 

Climax Old-Growth: the final stage of a forest stand when left undisturbed by humans 

Biogeoclimatic Zone Abbreviations

  • AT: Alpine Tundra
  • BG: Bunchgrass
  • BWBS: Boreal White and Black Spruce
  • CDF: Coastal Douglas-Fir
  • CWH: Coastal Western Hemlock
  • ESSF: Engelmann Spruce - Subalpine Fir
  • ICH: Interior Cedar - Hemlock
  • IDF: Interior Douglas-Fir
  • MH: Mountain Hemlock
  • MS: Montane Spruce
  • PP: Ponderosa Pine
  • SBPS: Sub-Boreal Pine - Spruce
  • SBS: Sub-Boreal Spruce
  • SWB: Spruce - Willow - Birch

Landscape Units of the SCNRD

  • Bishop
  • Brem
  • Brittain
  • Bunster
  • Bute East
  • Bute West
  • Chapman
  • Cortes
  • Haslam
  • Homathko
  • Homfray
  • Howe
  • Jervis
  • Lois
  • Narrows
  • Quatam

Biogeoclimatic Subzone Codes

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