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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This coastal ecoregion incorporates the numerous Gulf Islands of the Strait of Georgia. The ecoregion has a "mediterranean" climate of warm dry summers and mild wet winters where frosts are common in winter but snow is ephemeral. The mean annual temperature for the area is approximately 9°C with a summer mean of 15°C and a winter mean of 3.5°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 600 mm in the southern Gulf Islands up to 1000 mm farther north in the ecoregion. Very little precipitation falls as snow. The vegetative cover is characterized by forests of Douglas-fir, grand fir and western hemlock with an understory of salal, Oregon grape, and moss. Mixed stands of Douglas-fir with some Garry oak, dogwood, and arbutus are common on drier sites. Moist sites support western hemlock and western red cedar. This lowland basin is formed from an old erosion surface  where differential erosion has formed cuesta-like ridges (below 610 m asl) and bevelled hills from soft, folded, Tertiary and Cretaceous sandy sediments. Volcanic and crystalline Mesozoic gneissic and igneous rocks are also present. Humo-Ferric Podzols and Dystric Brunisolic soils have developed on glaciomarine and glacial till deposits. Characteristic wildlife includes black-tailed deer, raccoon, harbour seal, otter, mink, turkey vulture, bald eagle, blue grouse, shorebirds, seabirds, and waterfowl. Land uses reflect the favourable climate in that residential, industrial, recreational, and agricultural uses compete strongly with forestry uses. Eighteen percent of the land area is farmland. Populations continue to increase as the Gulf Islands are a popular retirement region. Most of the population is rural. The largest concentration of population is on Saltspring Island. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 20 800.

This ecoregion is part of the Pacific Maritime ecozone.