Ministry of Forests

Cariboo Region Research Section


Guide to Wet land Ecosystems of the Very Dry Montane Interior Douglas-fir Subzone Eastern Fraser Plateau Variant (IDFb2) in the Cariboo Forest Region

I INTRODUCTION

Non-forested wetlands are common on the plateau landscapes of the Cariboo Forest Region. They are an important resource, providing habitat for waterfowl and wildlife, range for domestic livestock, and hay for agriculture. Through management, their value for wildlife, agriculture, and range can be enhanced. However, understanding of wetland ecosystem characteristics and processes in the Cariboo Forest Region has not kept pace with the increasing pressures for wetland use. As a result, a sound ecological basis has not always been available for selecting the most appropriate management option or for assisting the resolution of potential use conflicts.

The Ministry of Forests is conducting ecological studies of wetlands in the Cariboo Forest Region as part of a provincial ecological classification program. The objective of these studies is to develop an ecosystem classification and a set of management interpretations for wetlands which can serve as a framework and guide for sound management decisions.

The wetland unit classified in these studies is the ecosystem, as defined by the Ministry of Forests ecological classification program (Pojar 1983). For practical purposes the ecosystem is characterized as an area of relatively uniform vegetation, soils and other physical site characteristics. It may encompass an entire wetland area or be only a small portion of a wetland. The approach used to classify wetlands is compatible, in part, with the hierarchical approach used by Runka and Lewis (1981). Specifically, the criteria used by them to distinguish wetland units at the class level are used here to classify ecosystem units. Below the class level, however, the ecosystem classification relies heavily on vegetation to define ecosystem units. The physical and chemical criteria used by Runka and Lewis to define units below the class level are used whenever possible to characterize and assist in the classification of ecosystems.

The objectives of this guide are (1) to present a classification of wetland ecosystem units of the Eastern Fraser Plateau Variant of the Very Montane Interior Douglas fir (IDFb2) biogeoclimatic subzone; and (2) to summarize range and wildlife habitat management interpretations for each of the ecosystem units.

For the purposes of this classification, descriptive data on vegetation, soils, and water regime were collected from 91 wetland ecosystems. These detailed data were supported by extensive reconnaissance observations.

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