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Ecological Land Classification

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.

Ecological Land Classification
CLOCA Approach

Vegetation communities in accordance with ELC, for the CLOCA jurisdiction have been mapped, providing detail to the Community Series level (i.e., distinguishing the difference between a coniferous swamp and deciduous swamp). The communities have been delineated from the best available aerial photography (2002) with limited ground-truthing. In order for a vegetation community to be mapped, it has to meet a minimum size requirement of 0.5 hectares.

Vegetation community information is entered into a database and boundaries of independent vegetation communities are mapped digitally. Having community information available digitally makes it possible to link spatial and database information to perform queries and analyze results.

ELC Wetland Map

This map (left) illustrates the wetland mapping that has been completed for the CLOCA jurisdiction using 2002 aerial photography. The highlighted ELC communities represent those providing wetland cover.


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