of climates in British Columbia, combined with the diverse terrain, results in
a pattern of distinct ecosystems. Among them are grasslands, oak parklands, temperate
rainforests, dry pine forests, desert-like steppes, meadows and wetlands.|
Columbia’s varied physical geography and climate make it the most biologically
and ecologically diverse province in Canada. It is home to Canada’s wettest forests
along the Pacific Coast and the country’s driest forests in the southern Interior.
The various habitats have made British Columbia home to the greatest diversity
of plants and animals of any province in Canada. Three-quarters of Canada’s mammal
species are found in the province, 24 of which occur exclusively in British Columbia.
There are 1,138 species of vertebrates in B.C., comprised of the following:
488 species of birds
468 species of fish
species of mammals
species of amphibians
species of reptiles
Over 250 bird species breed in the province, 162 of which (55%) breed nowhere
else in Canada. Invertebrate species probably number between 50,000 and 70,000,
including 35,000 species of insects.
British Columbia has an estimated 2,790 native vascular plant species, (nearly
27% are considered species at risk). Approximately 1,000 bryophytes (mosses and
liverworts), 1,600 lichens, 522 species of attached algae, and well over 10,000
species of fungi are present in the province.
British Columbia has the second-largest parks system in Canada, after Canada’s
National Parks. The 972 parks and protected areas (provincial parks, ecological
reserves, recreation areas and other protected areas), covering over 13.5 million
hectares, are diverse in their features and facilities. There are more than 340
campgrounds, 11,000 campsites, 263 day-use areas and 6,000 km of hiking trails
within the provincial parks.
Nearly one-tenth of the province's parks are wilderness, largely untouched and
frequented mostly by back-packers and mountaineers. Inland and coastal waters
are dotted with marine parks intended primarily for water-borne users.
The province is home to Canada’s only grizzly bear sanctuary, located in Khutzeymateen
Provincial Park in the Khutzeymateen Valley in northwest BC, and has the largest
intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world, which is protected in Kitlope
Heritage Conservancy. The entire Tatshenshini- Alsek region, almost one million
hectares in northwestern B.C., has been protected as a Class A provincial park
and nominated as a World Heritage Site.
Columbia’s laws and policies protect land and forest values; its conservation
strategies help protect habitat for vulnerable species such as grizzly bears,
spotted owls and mountain caribou. It continually reviews and adjusts forest management
rules so they reflect the latest scientific knowledge and offer the best protection
for all forest and land values.
In 2006, the British Columbia government created a new conservancy designation
to protect special areas in the central and north Pacific Coast planning regions.
Like Class A parks, the conservancies provide a high level of protection and allow
no commercial resource development. However, they explicitly preserve and maintain
Aboriginal uses and allow low-impact, compatible economic activities such as shellfish
a healthy forest includes a range of ages, older forests provide specialized habitats
that play a significant role in maintaining biological diversity. They also hold
unique cultural and spiritual values for First Nations. Conserving old growth
is an important component of long-term resource management planning in British