Ecosystem Mapping

Find potential occurrences of ecological communities that are at risk using one of the following tools:

TEM/PEM index map: If mapping exists in an area of interest on one of the index maps,  search in EcoCat using the project name or "Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping", "Predictive Ecosystem Mapping" or "Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory" as keywords. 

BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer: Search to find the names of ecological communities in an area of interest using Area Based search criteria such as BGC, Ecosection Forest District, MOE Region, Regional District or Municipality.

In the Reports and References section under "Other Related References" there may be more links to ecosystem mapping projects that also include the same or similar ecological community or ecosystem. These links will direct you to the ecosystem mapping project page in the Ecological Reports Catalogue (EcoCat) where reports and expanded legends (that provide ecosystem descriptions), spatial and data files may be downloaded.

How to Use This Mapping Information

Step 1:

  • Determine if the Biogeoclimatic (BGC) unit(s) from the BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer search results are listed in the project’s map legend or expanded legend.  The mapped ecosystem name or site series code may not be identical to that of the ecological community, but a review of the description may indicate that the ecological community is the same, or is similar enough, to continue further investigation. For example, the shore sedge - buckbean / hook-mosses ecological community may be mapped as ‘sedge wetland.' Contact the CDC for assistance or if you are unsure if the mapped ecosystem is the same as or similar to the ecological community you are interested in.

Step 2:

Step 3:

  • In a GIS join the non-spatial polygon attribute file (ecp.csv) to the the polygon spatial file (ecp.e00 or ecp.shp) using ecp_tag as the join field to locate polygons with the map code(s) of interest.

Step 1:

  • Determine which BGC unit(s) are in the area of interest. Review the map legend to determine if these units are mapped in the project.

Step 2:

  • Use the BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer search tool to generate a list of the ecological communities that occur within those BGC unit(s).

Step 3:

  • Compare the list of Ecological Communities to the mapped ecosystem units in the map legend and expanded legend.  Continue as in option A, steps 2 and 3.


Limitations of Ecosystem Mapping

Many factors influence the reliability of an ecosystem map. Depending on the scale of aerial images used to capture the ecosystems, small ecosystems and some types of disturbance may not be visible and will not be mapped. If air photos are not current, new disturbance may have occurred since the time of mapping and the inventory may not accurately represent the current state of the landscape. Other factors, such as the skill and experience of the mapper within the study area, and the field survey intensity level will also influence the reliability of the map.

Classification Issues 

Several ecosystem inventory methods used in B.C. do not map the same unit tracked by the BC Conservation Data Centre (i.e., ecological community).  However, units such as BGC sites series and Ministry of Environment map codes can be cross referenced to ecological communities. A BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer search for ecological community includes the relationship to site series. The map legend or expanded legend for the mapping project will describe the map code to allow users to determine if the unit is a particular ecological community. Users may also find Provincial Site Series & Map Code List helpful in cross referencing units.

Classification Changes

As classifications are refined, changes in BGC boundaries, names and site series numbers may have occurred since a project was completed. See the BEC Codes and Standards website for updates.