Forest Ecosystem Classification


In 2000, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) began a long-term project to systematically identify and describe stand-level forest ecosystems in Nova Scotia - known as the Forest Ecosystem Classification (FEC) project. To date, over 1,500 FEC plots have been assessed throughout the province using a detailed sampling and assessment protocol (Keys et al. 2007). This has resulted in several publications describing regional forest vegetation types, soil types and ecosites (Keys et al. 2003; Neily et al. 2006, 2007; Keys 2007).

In 2010, results from 10 years of FEC project work were synthesized to produce a comprehensive provincial FEC guide which is presented in three documents: Forest Ecosystem Classification for Nova Scotia: Part I Vegetation Types (2010); Part II Soil Types (2010); and Part III Ecosites (2010). This three-part guide builds upon, but also supersedes, all earlier FEC publications.

Questions arising from use of provincial FEC guides should be directed to the Ecosystem Management Group, Forestry Division, NSDNR. Issues pertaining to biodiversity and conservation can be directed to the Wildlife Division, NSDNR. All FEC guide documents are subject to revision and update on a periodic basis. Users should check the NSDNR website for current editions of FEC component guides. The N.S. Provincial Habitat Classification is currently under development and will provide further information on wildlife values and features.

Why Classify Forest Ecosystems

At a landscape level, ecosystem classification provides a framework for landscape analysis and planning which can then be ecologically linked to operational (stand-level) planning and management (Sims et al. 1995). NSDNR has already produced a comprehensive ecological landscape classification (ELC) system for Nova Scotia (Neily et al. 2005). This hierarchical system begins with ecozone and moves through ecoregions, ecodistricts, ecosections and finally ecosites - the level where the ELC and FEC systems converge.

At a stand level, classifying forest ecosystems based on vegetation, soil and site attributes allows users to recognize similar ecosystem units on the ground and to develop a common understanding of these units (Baldwin and Meades 1999; Ponomarenko and Alvo 2001). This allows for ongoing development of guidelines and best management practices which recognize opportunities and constraints associated with diferent ecosystem units, thereby leading to more predictable and sustainable forest management.

Links of Interest

Ecological Land Classification — An Ecological Land Classification (ELC) is a mapping tool that identifies and describes areas of similar enduring physical attributes. It is based on features such as climate, elevation, topography, bedrock formation, and vegetation. Within the classification information is presented and mapped within a hierarchy where broad to specific levels of detail are presented on a series of scale dependant maps.

A Procedural Guide for Ecological Landscape Analysis

Four Powerpoint presentations provide an easy to follow introduction to the Forest Ecosystem Classification