An ecosystem is all of the living things in an area and how they interact with the non-living things. Vancouver Island is 460 kilometers in length and 100 kilometers in width which covers an area of 32,134 square kilometers. In this area the dominant biome is temperate rainforest. A temperate rainforest is a forest of coniferous or broadleaf forest found in areas of heavy rainfall. Within Vancouver Island’s biome many smaller ecosystems exist. On the eastern coast of Vancouver area, the isolation of the area has resulted in it being only one of 4 areas in Canada where the natural ecosystem still remains.
Wetlands are found where there is seasonal or all year-round water found on the surface, or even within the root areas of the plants. The topography is generally flat and this waterlogged area is perfect for Bogs, fens, marsh, swamps, shallow water and wet meadow. There are many wetland ecosystems in the Victoria area of the Island, especially the Garry Oak associated wetlands which can still be found at places like the Uplands Park and Beaver Lake.
Riparian ecosystems are found on the fringes of very wet areas. They are found next to rivers, lakes and marshes so generally the soils are moist. There is a high level of biodiversity typified by rapid tree growth with a lush understory. Most of the riparian ecosystems are found on the floodplains of the Cowichan, Little Qualicum, Nanimo, and Tsolum Rivers on the North east of the Island.
Older forest contains trees that are over 140 years old. In these forests the trees can be very tall such as the Douglas Fir. Old growth forest has been reduced in recent years by logging and now many areas are protected by law in order to stop the logging companies completely taking away the ecosystems. Vancouver Island has only protected 13 % of its old growth forest. There are many areas to the south and the east of the island that are still home to this ecosystem and these magnificent trees.
Terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems have thin soils. They are often found on rock crops and in small opening in forest areas. These are fragile and sensitive areas that can be easily disturbed but contain rare species, such as Bremner’s Silverspot fritillary which is a butterfly. Most of these ecosystems are found in small patches near Victoria and Comox-Strathcona on the east coast.
Coastal Bluff is found on shore lines and id typified by weak sandy soils. Very little can grow in this harsh environment but there is a wide diversity of species that have adapted to the area, such as Macoun’s Meadowfoam and Water-plantain Buttercup. Coastal bluff is found on the shorelines all around Vancouver Island and not limited to one particular area.
Sparsely vegetated ecosystems encompass three main areas, sand dunes, coastal spits and inland cliffs and bluffs. These are hostile areas for wildlife. The area can only be 5% to 20 % covered but some species such as Dune Grass do survive. Sparsely vegetated ecosystems are found on Sydney Spit on the southern gulf islands. Vancouver Island is home to a wide variety of different ecosystems that combine together to give the Island that unique wilderness feeling. It adds to the beauty of the area and these natural habitats are a real attraction for people to explore.