In the Discovery Islands
• Woodlands are dry and open mixed forest ecosystems that occur on rocky outcrops where there are quickly drained, shallow, nutrient-poor soils.
• The open canopy of woodland ecosystems allows for a diverse understorey of wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and mosses; as well as specialized habitat for insects, reptiles and birds—including identified at-risk species.
• Woodlands are commonly interspersed with rocky and herbaceous sensitive ecosystems and together they form resilient and species-rich mosaics throughout the Discovery Islands.
Along the coast, woodlands are often a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, such as shore pine, Douglas-fir, Sitka mountain ash, and alder. Another species typically on south-facing slopes is arbutus, or Pacific madrone. Arbutus are Canada’s only native broad-leafed evergreen tree and the Discovery Islands are the northern end of their range. Inland and high elevation woodlands are mainly open coniferous forests. Many woodland sites that are not easily accessible remain intact and undisturbed.
Woodland ecosystems may contain small moist areas where water collects to form seasonal ephemeral pools that support rich vegetation. Mixed age-classes of trees, a relatively open canopy, established understorey communities, snags, and the proximity to other ecosystems contribute to the high biodiversity and resilience of woodland ecosystems.
Ecologists hypothesize that woodland ecosystems are likely to survive as climate changes, due to their ability to exist in dry conditions. However, woodlands are also highly vulnerable to natural and human disturbance, including soil damage, erosion, fragmentation, pests and invasive species. As our climate transitions, protecting healthy woodlands may prove valuable, and essential to the survival of many species.
WHEN YOU EXPLORE take special care in the summer when woodlands become tinder dry: a slight spark will easily ignite parched moss or dead wood and quickly create a fast-spreading wildfire.
Look For Typical & Rare Species in Woodland Ecosystems
TYPICAL FAUNA Band-tailed pigeon, black-tailed deer, common nighthawk, common woodnymph, cougar, garter snake species, northern saw-whet owl orange-crowned warbler, solitary vireo, sooty grouse, spotted towhee, Swainson’s thrush, western pine elfin butterfly, western screech-owl, yellow-rumped warbler, songbird species.
TYPICAL FLORA Arbutus, Douglas-fir, ocean spray, pipsissewa, red-stemmed feather moss, other mosses and lichen, baldhip rose, common juniper, common red paintbrush, common snowberry, hairy manazanita, salal, shore pine, Sitka mountain-ash, western trumpet honeksuckle.
SPECIES AT RISK Wedge-leaf primrose (Blue), western hedysarum (Blue), deltoid balsamroot (Red, Endangered), wandering salamander (Blue, Special Concern), band-tailed pigeon (Blue, Special Concern), sooty grouse (Blue), western screech-owl (Blue, Threatened)
ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES AT RISK Douglas-fir/shore pine/reindeer lichens; Douglas-fir/shore pine/grey rock mosses
*For comprehensive species lists & rarity explanation, click here.
Some Observations of Local Species
Some Local Woodland Ecosystems
Familiar Locations: Cortes Island: Goat Mountain, Quadra Island: Chinese Mountain, Read Island: Viner Point, Maurelle Island: the Dome, Sonora Island: Redonda: Cassel Falls Trail