Ministry of Environment

Essentials for WHR


British Columbia Wildlife Habitat Rating Standards (RIC [now RISC] 1999). Version 2.0
This manual provides provincial standards for wildlife habitat capability and suitability ratings to be applied to ecological mapping at scales from 1:250,000 to 1:20,000.

Download version in PDF (386 KB)

Field Manual for Describing Terrestrial Ecosystems (RIC 1998)
This manual is the standard for collecting wildlife habitat plot data. Chapter 5 of this manual provides the procedures and form [Wildlife Habitat Assessment Form FS882(5)] for collecting wildlife habitat assessment data.

Web accessible format and hard copy
Editable Excel version of WHA form (.zip 203KB)

Wildlife Habitat Rating Data Submission Standards. Version 2.2
This manual describes how to capture, store, and deliver digital data for wildlife habitat ratings in British Columbia. These data, including metadata, ecosystem unit data, and wildlife ratings, are suitable for digital data exchange among business, government, the research community, and the public.

Download version in PDF (387 KB)

Quality Assurance Guidelines: Wildlife Habitat Rating (Draft). Version 1.0
The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance and direction to those engaged in the quality assurance (QA) of WHR projects.

Download version in PDF (584 KB)

Species-Habitat Models

A species-habitat model provides the framework for data collection and the rationale for the wildlife habitat ratings. The two main components of a species-habitat model for wildlife habitat capability and suitability mapping are:

  1. the species account and
  2. the ratings table.

Species Accounts

The Species Account provides the background information on the selected species' biology and identifies the habitat requirements for each life requisite and associated season of use.

Species accounts have been developed for the more commonly-rated animal species. There are two kinds of species accounts that are available.

  1. Example Provincial Species Accounts
    The following example provincial species accounts are more general provincial species accounts that provide information basic to most areas of the province.
  2. Example Project Species Accounts
    These species accounts are specific to the populations and ecosystems of a project area. You can search Ecocat for species accounts and wildlife habitat ratings.
    • From the EcoCat homepage, select “Public”
    • If you know the project name enter it into keyword search, or select “Advanced Search”
    • Scroll down the page to "Terrestrial Information" and choose “Wildlife Habitat Ratings (WHR)” from the drop-down list.
    • Click on the “Search” button at the bottom of the page.

The species accounts may be used as a basis for developing new species accounts for new projects. However, each new species account must be revised to address particular habitat requirements and ecosystem attributes important to the species for the particular area (ecosystems) covered by the habitat mapping project.

Important: The last part of a species account, the ratings assumptions, links the rest of the species account to the ratings table. Thus the ratings assumptions should provided detailed description of how ecosystem units will be rated and should be revised and updated after field work is completed. Ratings assumptions should be written by the individual filling out the ratings table.

Ratings Tables

A ratings table is where habitat suitability ratings for a species are applied to each structural stage of each ecosystem unit in a project area. The ratings table and adjustments are integrated into an algorithm and used to develop map models using GIS.

The following Excel template can be used to develop a ratings table for a wildlife habitat mapping project.

Template .xls 15KB
Example Ratings Table .csv 45KB

Additional Information for Developing Species-Habitat Models

Identified Wildlife
Species accounts have been develop for Identified Wildlife. These accounts are a good starting point, but require additional information on the species' use of specific ecosystem attributes relevant to the project area.

South Okanagan Models
Over 30 Species-Habitat Models were developed for species at risk in the Southern Okanagan during the past 10 years. While these models appeared prior to the establishment of the Wildlife Habitat Rating Standards (1999) and therefore do not follow the standard format, they do represent a substantial body of knowledge on these species.

Note: To use any of the South Okanagan habitat models to develop a Species-Habitat Model for wildlife habitat ratings, they must be revised and updated to follow the current Wildlife Habitat Rating Standards.