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Quick Guide to Eco-Regions of British Columbia

Ecosystems are the basis for the division of BC into areas that have similar biological, physical and climatic characteristics. Ecological divisions have been created from large scale to ever-smaller scales. This classification system helps managers understand the ecological processes in their areas and make better management decisions.

Click on the link to learn more about Grasslands Ecosystems.

Ecoprovinces are large areas that have a similar regional climate, relief and landforms. Ecoprovinces, as shown on the map, are named for their position within the province, e.g. Southern Interior.


How many? 10

Check the Southern Interior Ecoprovince on the map as we go further into the classification system:


Ecoprovince: Southern Interior (SI)

Ecoregions are smaller areas defined by major physical and minor climatic characteristics. Ecoregion names reflect the major physical features found in the area, e.g. Thompson-Okanagan Plateau. 

How many? 45


Ecoregion: Thompson-Okanagan Plateau (TOP)

Ecosections are areas that have both minor physical and local climatic similarities, and similar soils, plants and wildlife. Their names reflect local physical feature, e.g. Southern Thompson Upland.

How many? 114


Ecosection: Southern Thompson Upland (STU)

The Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) further divides Ecosections into Biogeoclimatic zones, Subzones and Variants based on soils, climate, vegetation and their specific site location. Initials of dominant plants, climate conditions and location are used to create a unique abbreviated symbol for each one.

Want to know more about the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC)?

Biogeoclimatic (BEC) zones are named for the one or two plant species that dominate the zone, with the initials of the names creating the commonly used abbreviation. Many BEC zones occur in more than one Ecosection.

How many? 14


Biogeoclimatic Map of British Columbia

The Bunchgrass Zone (BG) is the only BEC Zone specific to grasslands, but others, such as the Ponderosa Pine and Interior Douglas-fir Zones, include large areas of grassland.


BEC Zone: Bunchgrass (BG): The Thompson River Valley looking west towards Ashcroft

Subzones have the same general features as zones, but each has its own special group of plants species. Subzone names reflect the small local variations in climate within a Zone, e.g. Very Dry Very Cold Montane Spruce subzone in the Chilcotin Plateau where grasslands occur at higher elevations.

How many? 76

Variants have small differences in features such as climate, soils or aspect that produce a slight variation in the plants that are found there. Their names reflect their geographic location, e.g. Kootenay Dry Mild Interior Douglas-fir (IDFdm2) variant in the East Kootenay Trench.

How many? (Many)


BEC Variant: Kootenay Dry Mild Interior Douglas-fir (IDFdm2)

Check out the simplified Chart of Major Grassland Ecosystems described in The Grasslands of British Columbia

Take a walk through the Grasslands Regions by clicking on the map on the left below.