Since the early 1950ís, there has been considerable work done across Canada to develop integrated, ecological approaches to land-unit description and classification. In Canada, this integrated approach to surveying and classifying land resources is called Ecological Land Classification (ELC). The goal of such classification schemes is to identify recurring ecological patterns on the landscape in order to reduce complex natural variation to a reasonable number of meaningful ecosystem units (Bailey et al., 1978).
Ontario has adopted this approach. The goal of the provincial ELC program is to establish a comprehensive and consistent province-wide approach for ecosystem description, inventory and interpretation. The key focus of the ELC is to improve our ability to manage both natural resources and the information about those resources.