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

4. Tools and Resources for Biodiversity Protection

We have many tools available to us in answering our big questions about how much land needs protection and which lands are the priorities.

A very important tool for understanding biodiversity in coastal forests is the Biogeoclimatic Ecological Classification system or BEC system. It uses flora, climate and geography to define broad ecological zones.

Biogeoclimatic Zones (or simply BEC Zones) is a classification system used to identify and infer combined ecological effects in each zone. Within each of these zones, there is a similar regional or macroclimate, and ecological landscape. At the highest level, there are 14 zones in British Columbia; each of these zones is named after the dominant species, as well as a geographical location or climate. 

Source: UBC Forestry Website
Source: UBC Forestry Website

BEC zones are named for the dominant plant(s) of the old growth forest within that zone once the forest reaches maturity. “BEC zones are named for the dominant adult plant(s) which grows in that area”. For example, in the old growth Coastal Douglas Fir Zone (CDF), Douglas Fir dominates the canopy, regenerates under its own canopy, and provides a greater biomass than any other living thing.

Coastal Douglas Fir (CDF) Zone
Coastal Douglas Fir (CDF) Zone

On the next page, we'll start by looking at a map of Biogeoclimatic Zones of British Columbia.

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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