Home | Ecozones | Montane Cordillera
Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This high elevation, mountainous ecoregion spans the Alberta-British Columbia boundary from Banff to the United States border. Much of the ecoregion lies 1200-2000 m asl. Winter temperatures are moderated by frequent Chinooks, especially on the eastern slopes.  The mean annual temperature for the major valleys is approximately 3.5°C with a summer mean of 12.5°C and a winter mean of -6.5°C. The mean precipitation ranges 600-700 mm annually. Vegetation cover is elevationally stratified. Engelmann spruce and alpine fir make up old growth forests at higher elevations. Some hybrid spruce, western hemlock, and western red cedar occur at middle and lower elevations. Locations that have suffered recent forest fires are often characterized by closed canopied forests of lodgepole pine. The Continental Ranges south of Crowsnest Pass are characterized by linear ranges of carbonate-rich Palaeozoic and Proterozoic sedimentary strata. Unvegetated rock outcrops are common along ridges and peaks. Humo-Ferric Podzols and Dystric Brunisols with some Gray Luvisolic soils developed on irregular, steeply-sloping colluvial, morainal, and fluvioglacial deposits are dominant in the region. Characteristic wildlife includes wapiti (elk), bighorn sheep, marten, lynx, bobcat, cougar, wolverine, grizzly and black bear, mountain goat, and mule and white-tailed deer. Forestry, coal mining at higher elevations, and limited agricultural activities at lower elevations are common uses of land. Hunting and recreation are extensive land uses throughout. Portions of Banff and Waterton Lakes national parks fall within the ecoregion. Grazing or forage production occurs in the Alberta portion of the ecoregion. The main communities are Fernie and Sparwood. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 35 200.

This ecoregion is part of the Montane Cordillera ecozone.