Range classification and survey tools

To manage vegetation for range, timber, wildlife and recreation, the ecology of plant communities must be understood.


The ecological classification of Alberta is a hierarchical classification structure starting at a broad scale of Natural Regions, subregions, and ecosections, and is used to classify rangeland ecosystems..

Alberta plant communities are classified (in descending scale (large to small)) under:

  1. natural regions
  2. sub-regions
  3. eco-sections

Forest natural regions are further subdivided by:

  • ecological site
  • ecological site phase

Grassland natural regions are further subdivided by:

  • range site
  • ecological range site

The plant community is the lowest level of classification hierarchy for both grassland and forested regions and it is the scale at which range management planning occurs.


More information on ecological site phases or range sites is available through spatial datasets, searchable on Open Government

  • Derived Ecosite Phase (DEP): available on landscapes with Alberta Vegetation Inventory (AVI)
  • Grassland Vegetation Inventory (GVI): covers the grassland natural region
  • Primary Land and Vegetation Inventory: for landscapes without AVI or& GVI coverage

Survey Tools