Biodiversity of British Columbia

british columbia wildlifeBritish Columbia has a rich biodiversity having four climatic conditions, dry, humid temperate, and polar climates. In fact, British Columbia holds three-quarters of Canada’s mammal species. Twenty-four mammal species are exclusive to the province. There are 488 species of birds, 468 species of fish, 142 species of mammals, 22 species of amphibians, and 18 species of reptiles in British Columbia. Insect species number around 35,000.

Rich in forested areas, British Columbia has an estimated 2790 species of native vascular plants, about 1000 bryophytes or mosses and liverworts, 1600 lichens, 522 species of attached algae and more than 10,000 species of fungi.

However, despite the rich and unique habitat that British Columbia has, 152 wildlife species and sub-species are considered candidates for endangered, threatened, or vulnerable status. The Burrowing Owl, and the American White Pelican and the Vancouver Island Marmot are already considered as endangered by the British Columbia government. The Sea Otter, meanwhile, is designated as an already Threatened specie.

However, British Columbia’s rich biodiversity is still under threat from rapid urbanization which replaces the greeneries with buildings and pavements. Urbanization also destroys the province’s wetlands which is home to the Sandhill Crane and the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad.

Because of the rich biodiversity of British Columbia, wildlife viewing has been a part of the eco-tourism of the province. Hiking, camping and viewing the wildlife, however, should be responsibly and with respect. There are designated trails and roads for such activities. It is also a policy of the province to never feed or touch wild animals. Not only could contact with wild animals disturb the fragile ecosystem, but could be dangerous to you as well.

There are packaged tours and cruises which offer tourists an opportunity to visit the British Columbia wilderness. There are different kinds of tours to choose from. There are tours for to see the migration of Pacific Gray Whales along the British Columbia Coast, view the Pacific salmon species migrating into the province’s interior, get to ride the current of the Fraser River, and get to see wildlife animals like the mountain goats, moose, caribou, and bighorn sheep. There are even guided tours that can take you to place where you could see cougars, black bear, grizzly bears and the kermode bear.

When viewing the British Columbia wilderness, however, you would need an expert guide if you have no outdoor experience under your belt. There are several information and seminars on basic wilderness survival that are included in tour and cruise packages. But, do bear in mind that such short courses are mere introductions and graduating from such does not make you experts in the field.

Wilderness survival training is a continuing process. Everyone who intends to experience the wilderness of British Columbia should be armed with knowledge about the outdoors, clothing, equipment, emergency food and various survival techniques.


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