About range plant community types
In order to manage vegetation for range, timber, wildlife and recreation, the ecology of the plant communities in the presence
and absence of disturbance must be understood. Community types are defined not only by their vegetation composition but
also by the environmental conditions under which they occur.
After the community types are defined they can be linked to ecosites and ecodistricts within a Natural Subregion. There
are 6 Natural Regions and 20 Natural Subregions described for the Province of Alberta.
Range Plant Community Type Guides
To view a guide for a particular plant community, select from the list of links below:
Boreal Forest Natural Region
Dry Mixedwood and Central Mixedwood
Rocky Mountain Natural Region
Subalpine and Alpine
Foothills Natural Region
Parkland Natural Region
Peace River Parkland
Grassland Natural Region
What are stocking rates?
When range managers determine the number of head of cattle that can be supported by a given site for a given period of time,
they are setting the stocking rate.
This stocking rate is the balance between the livestock's monthly forage utilization requirements, the plant production
and the ecology of the site.
Ecologically Sustainable Stocking Rates (ESSR)
The ESSR reflects the maximum number of livestock [e.g. hectares (ha)/animal unit month (AUM)] that can be supported by
the plant community given inherent biophysical constraints and the ecological goal of sustainable health and proper functioning
of the plant community.
When the ESSR is expressed for the area [e.g. ha] of a plant community polygon, the result is termed carrying capacity [CC],
and is written in AUMs.
Ecologically sustainable stocking rates are suggested for each plant community described within Range Plant Community Type
Range Survey Manual
The various survey methods used by Rangeland managers to collect the information needed to calculate carrying and grazing
capacities to manage public rangelands in Alberta is outlined in the Range Survey Manual below. See:
For more information, contact your local Rangeland Management Branch Office:
Updated: Jan 22, 2015