The vegetation of the Canadian Prairie Provinces. IV. The woody vegetation, Part 4. Coniferous forests
The coniferous forests occupy the Boreal forest zone of the Prairie Provinces and much of the submontane-subalpine zone of the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, covering a total area of approximately 1 200 000 km2. These forests are of considerable economic importance, and produce large amounts of lumber and pulpwood. Because of the large number of lakes suited for recreational purposes, communities in the Boreal forest zone derive much of their income through tourism, especially hunting and fishing. The forests also are the habitat of a large but diminishing number of fur bearing animals, and are of considerable economic importance to fur trappers. The coniferous forests of Canada have several species, varieties, or vicariants of species in common with their Eurasian counterparts, and can be placed in the existing class Vaccinio-Piceetea, order Pino-Piceetalia. Based on analyses of 882 relevés, and for some areas the study of existing literature, three new alliances, with 8 associations and 27 subassociations are described, and several variants are mentioned. Further research is needed, and will probably show the existence of several other forest communities, or lead to the elevation of most of the subassociations to the status of associations. The ecology and the significance as biocoenose of the forests, as well as their economic importance, are discussed.