Twenty-five years ago, plantation failures were occurring in some places because trees were being planted on inappropriate sites for the species. One of the earliest applications for BEC was to provide a tool for determining which tree species to plant on which sites. Now, BEC influences many different aspects of the management of forests and other resources in British Columbia.

BEC provides a classification framework of ecosystems at broad to specific levels of generalization. The broad biogeoclimatic (zonal) units have been used for such applications as:

  • Seed zones
  • Protected area planning
  • Land management planning
  • Forest pest risk
  • Natural disturbance types
  • Wildlife habitat management

The more detailed ecosystems—site units—provide a structure upon which management interpretations are presented. Some common interpretations for each site series include:

  • Most suitable tree species for regeneration
  • Stocking, stock type, and ‘free-to-grow’ standards for tree species
  • Vegetation competition after harvesting
  • Forest harvesting season
  • Site limiting factors and reforestation considerations
  • Site index by tree species (SIBEC)

Over the past few years, BEC has been incorporated into the Forest Practices Code in such guide books as Establishment to Free Growing (includes species selection and stocking), Landscape Unit Planning, Silviculture Prescriptions, Stand Management Prescription, Biodiversity and Identified Wildlife Strategy.

The silviculture prescription procedure requires that the site to be harvested be stratified into ecologically uniform units, using BEC site series as a basis. Then the site prescription is determined by combining interpretive information from the ecological field guides with the local site conditions.

See the BEC Publications page for publications with more detailed references about BEC.