Central Interior Ecoregional Assessment: Terrestrial Representation in Regional Conservation Plannning


  • Gwen Kittel NatureServe
  • Carmen Cadrin Vegetation Ecologist, British Columbia Conservation Data Centre
  • Dušan Markovic MTS Consulting
  • Tory Stevens Ecologist, B.C. Ministry of Environment


biodiversity, British Columbia, Central Interior Ecoregional Assessment, climate change, conservation planning, Marxan analysis, Nature Conservancy of Canada, terrestrial ecological systems


This article describes the approach used to incorporate terrestrial ecological systems into regional conservation planning as part of the ecoregional assessment completed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada for the Central Interior of British Columbia, a vast area of 25.7 million ha. The goal of our assessment was to develop a suite of conservation areas that, once protected or managed for conservation, would represent all of the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the Central Interior. The process involved several teams focussed on different areas (aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems; plant, and animal species).

This article describes the efforts of the terrestrial coarse-scale ecological systems team. We developed an ecological systems classification to be used as coarse-filter  argets, created an ecoregion-wide map of distribution, and modelled distributions of riparian ecosystems and fine-scale ecological land units to capture elevation and micro-topographic slope and aspect diversity. We also developed minimum dynamic area criteria for large-scale forest ecosystems. The final set of prioritized potential conservation areas covers 7.7 million ha (30%) of the Central Interior. We also integrated climate adaptive strategies into a plan that included large, enduring landscapes with topographic diversity, which allows for species movement or migration and populations of species at the northern limit of their range within the Central Interior.