Ecoregion profile: Eastern Vancouver Island

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Iman Mustapha, Environment Accounts and Statistics Division

The Eastern Vancouver Island ecoregion is part of the larger Pacific Maritime ecozone that stretches along the entire coast of British Columbia, from the Yukon in the north, to the city of Victoria in the south (Map 2). Rainfall in this ecozone can exceed 3,000 mm a year. As part of this ecozone, the Eastern Vancouver Island ecoregion is located on the leeward 23  side of Vancouver Island's mountain ranges and as such receives less precipitation than the neighbouring windward 24  Western Vancouver Island ecoregion. The ecoregion is characterized by mixed terrain with areas of sharp crests and narrow valleys and covers an area of more than 13,200 km2, which is smaller than the average Canadian ecoregion of 45,000 km2.

This region was the seventh most densely populated ecoregion in Canada in 2006, with 50 persons per km2. The population was 659,342 people in 2006, representing an 86% increase from 1971 (Table 2). The main population centres in the ecoregion include Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Campbell River and Port Alberni. This region's settled area 25  in 2006 was 612 km2, an increase of 11.5% from 2001. Coniferous forests are the dominant land cover, making up 68.9% of the surface area (Chart 9, Map 3 and Table 2). Deciduous forests cover 3.0% of the ecoregion. Coniferous forests include Douglas-fir, western hemlock and grand fir, while deciduous forests are composed mainly of Garry oak.

Grasses cover 9.4% of the ecoregion, followed by shrubland (5.8%), developed land (4.2%) and water (3.6%). In 2010, the protected area in this ecoregion was 2,003 km2, or 15.2% of the total area (Table 2).

The labour force for the ecoregion was made up of more than 336,200 people in 2006, a 7.3% rise from 2001. The growth rate for the Canada-wide labour force over the same period was 8.0% (Table 2). The fastest growing employment category was construction and utilities with a 41.7% rise over 2001. Over the same period, manufacturing declined by 9.2%. Public administration, management and other services was the largest category in 2006, making up 18.7% of the total labour force, reflecting the presence of government institutions. This was followed closely by educational and health care services (18.2%) and retail and wholesale trade at 14.6% (Chart 10).

The labour force in primary industries in this ecoregion (agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, mining and oil and gas extraction) decreased by 7.2% between 2001 and 2006.

Table 3 illustrates labour force estimates for selected primary industries in British Columbia from 1990 to 2010. 26 

From 2001 to 2006, the labour force in the forestry and logging and associated support activities category declined by 22.5%, while the fishing and hunting category went down by 42.9% for the province as a whole.

Agriculture in the ecoregion contributed $151 million (0.4%) to Canada's total farm sales of $42.2 billion in 2005 (Table 2). Total farmland area—which includes cropland, summerfallow and pasture lands—increased by 4.1% in the ecoregion from 38,283 hectares in 1971 to 39,837 hectares in 2006. This increase went against the Canadian trend, which saw a 1.6% decline over the same period. Between 1971 and 2006, the number of farms in the ecoregion increased by 43.6% to 2,310. During the same period, the number of cattle rose 3.5% to 24,073.

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