Ecological and landscape classification

  • What is ecological and landscape classification (ELC)?
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  1. What is ecological and landscape classification (ELC)?

    Ecosystem unit diagram.
    Ecological and Landscape Classification (ELC) is how we identify and precisely describe landscape patterns into ecosystem units based on similar climate, landscape, vegetation and soil conditions. The goal is to provide a common ecological language and framework to help classify ecosystem units and support land and resource management decisions.

    The Yukon’s ELC and mapping program

    The Yukon’s ELC and mapping program has as long history in the Yukon with initial efforts by the Canadian Forest Service dating back to the 1970s. Our program has evolved many times over the years and will continue to change as practices and technologies grow. The departments of Environment and Energy Mines and Resources direct the development frameworks and standards, and support multiple disciplines for many uses including:

    • agriculture;
    • climate change;
    • cumulative effects monitoring;
    • environmental assessment;
    • environmental monitoring;
    • forestry;
    • mine project development;
    • reclamation;
    • regional and local planning; and
    • sensitive ecosystems.

    The Yukon’s ELC program uses two hierarchical ecological frameworks that guide ecosystem classification and mapping in the Yukon:

    Yukon Biophysical Ecosystem Classification

    The Yukon Biophysical Ecosystem Classification (YBEC) uses similar concepts to the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification System of British Columbia. YBEC has climate and site-level classification, but considers climate to be the primary influence on ecosystem development and distribution. YBEC provides detailed site-level ecological mapping and interpretation. Efforts to develop detailed site-level units are ongoing in the Yukon.

    National Ecological Framework

    The National Ecological Framework (NEF) identifies and describes the biophysical properties of large land units based on ecological similarity. The NEF subdivides Canada into ecologically similar areas, based on the integration of climate, physiography, landform and vegetation. This framework is a well-developed and supports many Yukon land and resource management activities.

    Ecoregions of the Yukon Territory provides generalized regional biophysical information about the landscapes of the Yukon.


For questions about the Ecological and Landscape Classification Program, email