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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This generally heavily forested ecoregion takes in the northwestern two-thirds of Vancouver Island including the western lowlands and offshore islands. Numerous, steep-sided, transverse valleys, inlets, and sounds dissect the ecoregion. The climate is marked by warm, moist summers and very wet but mild winters. The mean annual temperature for the ecoregion is approximately 8.5°C with a summer mean of 13.5°C and a winter mean of 3.5°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 1500 mm in the northeast portion of the ecoregion up to 3500 mm at higher elevation in the main ranges of the island's interior. Henderson Lake holds the Canadian record for precipitation in one year at 8122 mm in 1931. Tofino has the warmest average January temperature of any community in Canada. Coastal forest cover at low elevation includes stands of western hemlock, Douglas-fir, and amabilis fir. Drier sites support stands of western hemlock and western red cedar. Subalpine regions are dominated by forests of mountain hemlock and amabilis fir with some yellow cedar. Alpine tundra sites have an abundance of dwarf willow, sedge, fescue grass, and forbs. The Vancouver Island Ranges form the main body of the island, and their highest peaks reach 2135 m asl. These mountains have been sculptured by glaciers that have left deep, U-shaped valleys. They are composed mainly of Cretaceous and Tertiary strata with volcanic rocks more abundant in the southern half of the island. The narrow Estevan Coastal Plain and Nahwitti Lowland are composed of soft, gently dipping, folded Tertiary strata that form low hills and plains. Soils range from Podzolic and Dystric Brunisolic on well-drained mineral substrates to Gleysolic soils in poorly drained portions of the landscape. Organic soils form on sloping bogs on lowlands along the coast. Humo-Ferric Podzolic soils are most common  in the subalpine zone. Characteristic wildlife includes black-tailed deer, American elk (wapiti), black bear, wolf, mink, otter, raccoon, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and grouse. This very humid ecoregion includes some of the most productive forest lands in British Columbia. Forest management is an important land use and much of the forest lands are under Tree Farm License. Harvested wood is used in both pulp and lumber production. Mining, water-oriented recreation, and tourism are also important land uses. Much of the south and western coast of Vancouver Island falls within the Pacific Rim National Park and the main ranges of the Island fall within Strathcona Provincial Park. Some major communities are Port Alice, Tofino, Ucluelet, and Port Hardy. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 20 500.

This ecoregion is part of the Pacific Maritime ecozone.