Technical Thematic Report No. 11. - Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ Evidence for key findings summary
The Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ (WIBE), shown in Figure 1 and summarized in Table 1, occupies the southern interior portion of British Columbia (BC) (see national map on page ii). The boundary of the WIBE is the same as the Southern Interior Ecoprovince of BC's Ecoregion Classification System. Footnote 6
The WIBE includes a wide range of ecosystem types, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, large and small lakes, major rivers and small streams, and some alpine and glaciated areas. It is unique in Canada for representing the northern extent of the Great Basin desert and has very high species richness and species rarity.
The ecozone+ has hot, dry summers, moderate winters, and, because it is largely in the rain shadow of the coastal mountains, relatively low precipitation.
|Area||57,071 km2 (0.6% of Canada)|
|Climate||Dominated by the rain shadow effect of the coastal mountains, which limits|
Hot, dry summers and moderate winters
|River basins||Thompson River draining to the Fraser River|
Fraser River draining to the Pacific Ocean
Okanagan River draining to the Columbia River in Washington State
Similkameen River draining to the Okanogan River in Washington State
Kettle River draining to the Columbia River in Washington State
|Geology||Surficial materials primarily till (70%)|
Contains the only significant concentration of black and brown chernozem
soils in BC footnote Footnote 7
|Settlement||Kamloops is the largest settlement in the Thompson region|
Lillooet is the largest settlement along the portion of the Fraser River within this ecozone+
Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton are the largest settlements in the Okanagan
Princeton is the largest settlement in the Similkameen region
Grand Forks is the largest settlement in the Kettle region
From 1971 to 2006, the population of the ecozone+ more than doubled,
principally due to growth in the Thompson and Okanagan regions
|Economy||Services, agriculture, and forestry are major employers|
|Development||The central Okanagan (Kelowna and surroundings) and south Okanagan (Penticton and surroundings) are experiencing high growth rates|
|National/global significance||The WIBE includes many species at risk and is ecologically unique in Canada, because parts of the ecozone+ are the northward extension of the Great Basin sagebrush-dominated desert and its grasslands Footnote 8|
Jurisdictions: The WIBE is contained entirely within BC. The traditional territories for the Northern Shuswap Treaty Society (Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw Nation), St'at'imc Nation, Tsilhqot'in Nation, Lil'wat Nation/Mount Currie, N'Quat'Qua, Sto:lo Tribal Council, Peters, Stó:lo Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association, Westbank, and Yale overlap the WIBE boundaries. Esk'etemc, In-SHUCK-ch Nation, Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council, Laich-Kwil-Tach Council of Chiefs, Stoney Indian Band, Union Bar, Chehalis, Skwah, Douglas, and Xwémalhkwu Nation are adjacent to the WIBE.
Human population growth is increasing rapidly in the ecozone+ (Figure 2), particularly in the north, central, and south Okanagan (Figure 3). Parts of the landscape have been substantially altered for urban development and agricultural conversion. Forestry is also a major industry.
For these data, the WIBE was approximated by the Southern Montane Cordillera Ecoprovince of the National Ecological Classification System. There are minor discrepancies between these borders, but no cities occur in the non-overlapping areas.
Source: compiled from Statistics Canada, 2000 Footnote 9 and 2008 Footnote 10
Long Description for Figure 2
This bar graph shows the following information:
|Number of People (thousands) - 1971||Number of People (thousands) - 1976||Number of People (thousands) - 1981||Number of People (thousands) - 1986||Number of People (thousands) - 1991||Number of People (thousands) - 1996||Number of People (thousands) - 2001||Number of People (thousands) - 2006|
Based on 2005 remote sensing data, forest is the predominant land cover in the WIBE (Figure 4). Approximately 14% is covered by grassland/shrubland habitats, which support high biodiversity and provide corridors for animal movement from the Columbia Basin to the south into the shrub-steppe and interior forests to the north.
West Kettle River © R. Rae
Okanagan Lake shore, near Summerland © R. Rae
Landscape on Okanagan Mountain two years after the 2003 wildfire;
Okanagan Lake beyond © R. Rae
Mountain goats, Cathedral Park © R. Rae
Ponderosa pine, near Summerland © R. Rae
- Footnote 6
BC Ministry of Environment. 2006. Ecoregion classification system [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. (accessed 2 September, 2009).
- Footnote 7
Geological Survey of Canada. 1994. Surficial materials of Canada, map 1880A [online]. | Natural Resources Canada. (accessed 23 October, 2009).
- Footnote 8
Pitt, M. and Hooper, T.D. 1994. Threats to biodiversity of grasslands in British Columbia. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 20. pp. 279-292.
- Footnote 9
Statistics Canada. 2000. Human activity and the environment 2000. Human Activity and the Environment, Catalogue No. 11-509-XPE. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. 332 p.
- Footnote 10
Statistics Canada. 2008. Human activity and the environment: annual statistics 2007 and 2008. Human Activity and the Environment, Catalogue No. 16-201-X. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. 159 p.
- Footnote 11
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2007. British Columbia regional districts [online]. Government of BC.
(accessed 11 July, 2013). Data to produce map downloaded from DataBC
- Footnote 12
Ahern, F., Frisk, J., Latifovic, R. and Pouliot, D. 2011. Monitoring ecosystems remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 17. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON.
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