Ecosystem classification systems (ECS) are a useful tool for conservation planning, particularly protected areas planning. Nova Scotia Protected Areas Branch has completed a geographical information system based ecosystem classification system for the province. The classification system integrates aspects of existing forestry based classification system and national vegetation classification system. Principles of landscape pattern have been incorporated into the system: (1) use hierarchical system; (2) include both abiotic and biotic factors; (3) use more abiotic factors at coarser spatial scales and more biotic factors at finer spatial scales; and (4) use vegetation only at the finest scale. The ECS builds on previous work, allows for integration of existing landscape classification systems, and establishes methods that can be applied for a variety of landscape planning issues in other regions.
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