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

8. BEC Zones of the Sunshine Coast Natural Resource District

Coastal Douglas Fir Moist-Maritime (CDFmm) Site

In the old growth Coastal Douglas Fir Zone (CDF), Douglas Fir dominates the canopy, regenerates under its canopy, and provides a greater biomass than any other living thing.

The CDF has only one subzone, the moist maritime. The picture below shows CDF a zonal site, with mainly Douglas Fir making up the canopy.

Douglas Fir Canopy
Douglas Fir Canopy

The Northwest side of Texada Island is an extremely dry site of the CDFmm subzone. It carries the site type number "02". This is a highly diverse open stand that is the driest forested ecosystem in coastal BC. This is not a CDFmm (moist maritime) zonal site!

Northwest side of Texada Island
Northwest side of Texada Island

The CDFmm zone has some unique plants to this area! For example:

Dry Ecosystem Plants: How dry? Dry enough for cactus, juniper scrub, lodgepole pine, and lots of arbutus.


Rare Plants: A unique example such as the Calypso Bulbosa (AKA the fairy slipper) is an orchid, whose role in the dynamic ecosystem is not well understood.


Sand Dune Ecology: the CDFmm is also home to one of the rarest ecosystems in Canada, located on Savary Island. Unfortunately, British Columbia has not yet protected any examples of Douglas Fir Sand Dune Ecology.


Coastal Western Hemlock Very Dry Maritime (CWHxm)

This image shows a zonal site of a 110 year old CWHxm forest. Douglas Fir is the pioneer species in this subzone. These trees were established naturally after the forest fire of 1904. The components of the eventual climax forest, Hemlock and Red Cedar, are already present in the under story.

110 year old CWHxm Forest
110 year old CWHxm Forest

Some areas of the CWHxm zone can feature ephemeral ponds, fluctuating water tables, skunk cabbage and a component of Sitka Spruce (shown). Presence of Sitka Spruce is noteworthy; if these trees are cut down they can not be replaced. This is due to the presence of an alien insect, the Spruce Leader Weevil, which infects young Sitka Spruce leaders, preventing their normal development.


Coastal Western Hemlock – Dry Maritime (CWDdm)

The Sunshine Coast is also home to the dry maritime subzone of the Coastal Western Hemlock. This zone can be found in the Chapman Creek Basin, and is often impacted by human disturbance from settlement or harvesting/forestry practices due to their predominance of Douglas-Fir and Western Red Cedar. In the understory you can find lots of salal and bracken fern.

Coastal Hemlock

Mountain Hemlock – Moist-Maritime  (MHmm) 

These high elevation ancient forests feature Mountain Hemlock, Yellow Cyprus and Amabilis Fir. The MH has only one subzone, the moist maritime (MHmm). This picture shows an average zonal site. Fortunately, the MH Zone is mostly unlogged. Recovery from logging of these extremely old stands is very slow.


Here are some examples of A typical MH site showing hemlock regeneration.


The Mountain Hemlock (MH) Zone is home to wetter sites as well. Almost everything in the MH that is flat is wet with a fluctuating water table. This giant ‘sponge’ holds water year round, slowly releasing it to the forests below.


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

Scroll to Top