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The ecology of the mountain hemlock zone

Author(s) or contact(s): BC Ministry of Forests - Research Branch
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Ecology
Series: Brochure
Other details:  Published 1997. Hardcopy is available.


British Columbia's coastal subalpine lands lie within the Mountain Hemlock Zone. Dense, closed-canopy forests are characteristic of the lower part of this ecological zone; but at higher elevations forests thin out to open parkland, heath and meadow. Here the growing season is shorter because the climate is colder and the snowpacks are deeper. The Mountain Hemlock Zone provides wildlife habitat for many species, especially during the warmer summer months.


The Mountain Hemlock Zone occupies subalpine elevations along the entire British Columbia coast. It also extends north into Alaska and south along the Washington and Oregon coast. In the south, the zone ranges from 900 to 1800 meters above sea level; in the north, it ranges from 400 to 1000 meters above sea level. The zone is located between the densely forested Coastal Western Hemlock Zone and the treeless Alpine Tundra Zone. Much of Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island and Garibaldi Park on the south coast mainland lie within the Mountain Hemlock Zone.

Funding for Internet version was provided by Forest Renewal BC.

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Updated October 16, 2008