History of development and current status

Several general forest classifications were produced for B.C. in the first half of the 20th century. When V.J. Krajina came to the University of B.C. in 1949, he began formulating the principles of the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC). Krajina and his students, from the Department of Botany at UBC, developed BEC during the 1960's and early 1970's.

In 1976, the B.C. Ministry of Forests initiated a massive classification program throughout the province. In the first 10 years, the main focus was on collecting data, refining the mapping, further developing the classification, and training personnel in the application of the system. Each Ministry of Forests Region produced one or more field guides.

The next stage was a province-wide correlation of all the data, which resulted in further revisions to the classification. It was at this stage that a new, rationalized nomenclature was adopted for the various components of the classification. Forest regions published updated field guides based on the revised classification and nomenclature.

The classification is constantly being revised as new data are collected in poorly sampled areas. Some of the gaps that are gradually being filled include non-forested ecosystems (e.g., wetlands, grasslands and alpine areas), forested ecosystems in remote areas with little forest harvesting (e.g., northwestern part of the province), and young seral ecosystems. For updates on field guides and the classification see Ecosystems.

Staff in the early days of the BEC program, 1978.