BC Parks Zoning Framework

To assist the planning and management of the protected areas is British Columbia, zoning is used. That means that zoning divides an area in different units to achieve the most protective value of a area. Every zone appeals to something different for instance the intended land use, the existing patterns of use, the degree of human use desired and the level of management and development. For visitors and managers each section represent on how a singular area is managed. Zoning is an essential requirement for all protected areas except for ecological reserves.

There are six possible zones that can be used in protected areas:

  • Special Natural Feature Zone
  • Cultural Zone
  • Intensive Recreation Zone
  • Nature Recreation Zone
  • Wilderness Recreation Zone
  • Wilderness Conservation Zone

Different zones

The following abstract will describes the attributes of each zone and the criterias which are required.

Special Natural Feature Zone

The goal of this planned zone is to protect the natural ecosystem and it’s features because of their special character. This zone has a really low use level and you need a special requirement permission to enter this area. It is possible that this region is surrounded by other zones and it is normally very small. There are some relaxing opportunities for people for example sightseeing or enjoying nature. It could be that in the future it will be a permanent restricted area and therefore it has no impact on the environment. Some good example for such a zone is the Botanical Beach tidepools in Juan de Fuca Park.

Cultural Zone

In the second zone the intention is to protect cultural places and activities. The attendance may vary and there is a great chance that it will be controlled to protect the cultural value. There are various ways to arrive there as it is located wherever the cultural site is located at that moment. However, it still has to be managed properly. Whereas other zone are either small or large the cultural one can be variable. There are several ways to enjoy this region for instance through hiking, backpacking or kayaking. It is crucial that it doesn’t conflict with the cultural value. Depending on the use of the zone the impact on the environment varies; it can be minimal in some areas while it is visible through the use of some cultural tradition for example in Este-tiwilh/Sigurd Creek Conservancy.

Nature Recreation Zone

In the third region the target is to protect the panoramic values and to create recreation opportunities for the backcountry. The level of use is still low and to end up there you can only use special vehicles such as bicycle, canoe, horse and foot. Aircraft is only used to drop off and to pick up. This area is really remote and only accessible with on a daily trip. The zone can be everything from small to large. Recommended opportunities are camping, hunting, kayaking, backpacking and skiing. As the facilities are limited to small areas the impact is not so high. A good example is the Core area in Cathedral Park.

Wilderness Recreation Zone

The objective of this zone is to protect the remote and natural landscape as well as to provide some backcountry opportunities. It is of very low use to promote a proper wilderness setting and it will be a controlled area in the future.The different ways to access those areas are either by foot or canoe, horses may be accepted but motorized and flying vehicles are not permitted. Some enjoyable opportunities for visitors are backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, hunting and fishing. This area is free of any human evidence and the facilities that are there are very agreeable with the nature setting. A example for a wilderness recreation zone is the Upper Murray River watershed within Monkman Park

Intensive Recreation Zone

In this zone the aim is to provide some variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. As it is very easy to access (by public road routes) the use level is very high.  It is located close to neighbouring roads and even though it is small it provides a lot of activities like camping, picnicking, beach activities, kayaking and bicycling. There are some areas with great facilities what means that there exists a slightly impact on nature for example the Campground in Rathtrevor Beach Park.

Wilderness Conservation Zone

This area helps to provide a remote and natural landscape with unassisted backcountry recreation opportunities. This zone is not used a lot of time and it may be controlled to protect the environment too. There a few ways to access these remote settings such as canoe or by foot as well as horse riding. It is a large and really isolated area and not easily to visit. Some activities are backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, hunting and fishing. This zone is free of any human facilities and therefore no impact on nature such as Upper Murray River in Monkman Park.

  • Source BC Parks. June 2012. BC Parks Zoning Framework : A Management Planning Tool. Available at : https://bcparks.ca/planning/docs/zoning-framework.pdf [Accessed 03/2021].