Strait of Georgia Lowlands


Strait of Georgia Lowlands


LIFE IN THE RAINSHADOW


Gulf Islands
Gulf Islands

Tucked under the rainshadow of the mountains of Vancouver Island and Washington's Olympic Peninsula, this region basks in a balmy Mediterranean climate. Warm dry summers and mild winters that rarely see snow, frieze of islands and a fertile sea combine to create habitats found nowhere else in Canada.

THE LAND:


From the air, the flat plains of the Fraser Delta and the southern corner of Vancouver Island stand out from the forests, mountains and glaciers that fence them in: a mosaic of rectangular fields, two major cities with spreading suburbs, roads, towns, hydro lines and a spattering of green and brown islands in the blue waters of the Strait of Georgia.

Gulf Islands
Gulf Islands

This is the Strait of Georgia Lowlands Natural Gulf Islands Region, the smallest and most urbanized natural region in Canada. Although the region makes up about 2% of the area of the British Columbia, it contains two-thirds of its population.

The range of physiographic forms in this small region, in combination with the region's mild Mediterranean climate, has resulted in a diverse and abundant array of plants and animals. Many of these plants and animals are at the northern extreme of their range and not found elsewhere in Canada

VEGETATION:

The vegetation of this area is, word, unusual. Arbutus, its constantly shedding red bark, leathery evergreen leaves and twisted, muscular form; Garry oak, dark and rough - these are found nowhere else Canada. Prickly pear cac-are abundant on some of Gulf Islands. The dominant vegetation is more familiar - Douglas fir, grand fir, western red cedar, lodgepole pine, Pacific dogwood (British Columbia's provincial flower), big leaf maple and red alder.

At the bottom of Active Pass
At the bottom of
Active Pass

WILDLIFE:

Bendires shrew, California bat, Townsend's chipmunk, Douglas squirrel and western spotted skunk , among many others, are found only in this region in Canada and are at the northern most limits of their ranges here.

The black-tailed deer, a small sub-species of mule deer, is the most conspicuous large mammal and is abundant throughout the region.The mud flats and salt marshes of the Fraser River Estuary are critical areas for waterfowl and shorebirds.

Millions of migrating birds flock here each year, feeding and resting before completing their journeys. Hundreds of thousands spend the winter. Alaksen Migratory Bird Sanctuary, covering 5.2 square kilometres of the Fras-er Delta, is of such significance that it has been listed as a Ramsar site - a wetland of international importance. It is one of thirty such sites in Canada.

Pelagic Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant

region


National Parks System Plan, 3 rd Edition

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