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2 Results

Presentation of the results roughly follows the FAO regional division: North and Central America, Europe and Northern Asia, Asia, South America, Africa and Oceania.

For Asia, quite a number of different subregional and national source maps had to be used to compile the GEZ map: Tropical Asia, Middle East, China, Korea’s, Mongolia, Japan. The regions South America, Africa and Tropical Asia are presented together, as the same type of source maps, the eco-floristic zone maps produced by LET, were used to compile the GEZ map. For each region we present a) the source maps that were used, together with classification criteria; and b) look-up tables giving the correspondence between the source classes and the FAO Ecological Zones with comments/explanations. Appendix II-1 presents the source maps that were used to delineate the global Ecological Zones.

In the look-up tables (further abbreviated as LUT) only the codes of the Global Ecological Zone are given (Table 2). More details on the zones, such as names, climatic criteria, vegetation, are presented in Table 1 and paragraph 3.4 of Part I of this report.

Table 2. Codes and names of FAO Global Ecological Zones.


Global Ecological Zone (GEZ)





Tropical rain forest


Tropical moist deciduous forest


Tropical dry forest


Tropical shrubland


Tropical desert


Tropical mountain systems



Subtropical humid forest


Subtropical dry forest


Subtropical steppe


Subtropical desert


Subtropical mountain systems



Temperate oceanic forest


Temperate continental forest


Temperate steppe


Temperate desert


Temperate mountain systems



Boreal coniferous forest


Boreal tundra woodland


Boreal mountain systems




2.1 North and Central America

The zoning of this region was based on maps and inputs from five countries / subregions, from North to South: Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

2.1.1 Canada

The source for the GEZ of Canada is the map "Ecological Regions of North America" (CEC, 1997). The map was developed by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) whose members are Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The CEC map is applying a holistic ecosystem or landscape classification, based on various components or parameters such as climate, soils, landform, vegetation and also land use. Three levels of ecological regions are distinguished and at the broadest level North America is divided into 15 Level I regions. Nested within the Level I regions, 52 Level II ecological regions have been mapped. The scale of presentation of Level II is at approximately 1:30 million.

Table 3. LUT Canada.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecological region Level II





5.2 Mixed wood Shield

5.3 Atlantic Highlands

8.1 Mixed wood Plains

8.2 Central USA Plains


9.2 Temperate Prairies

9.3 West-Central Semi-Arid Plains


6.2 Western Cordillera

7.1 Marine West Coast Forests



5.1 Softwood shield

9.1 Boreal Plains


3.1 Alaska Boreal Interior

3.3 Taiga Plains

3.4 Taiga Shield

4.1 Hudson Plain


6.1 Boreal Cordillera

3.2 Taiga Cordillera



1.1 Arctic Cordillera

2.1 Northern Arctic

2.2 Alaska Tundra

2.3 Brooks Range

2.4 Southern Arctic

Source: Ecological Regions of North America (CEC, 1997)

Level II was considered the most appropriate scale and detail of source classes to use for compiling the FAO GEZ map. The correspondence between source classes, Level II ecological regions and the GEZ was established by studying the criteria and descriptions of the ecological regions. For example region ‘5.1 Softwood Shield’ corresponds to FAO EZ class ‘Ba-Boreal Coniferous forest’, based on the description (CEC, 1997) that the ecological region has a mean annual temperature of –2 to -6oC, a mean annual precipitation of 550-1500 mm, a vegetation of primarily conifers, lichens and shrubs and that landform is hilly with some plains.

Mountain systems are in the CEC classification placed under the “Cordillera” and ”Sierra” ecological regions. Landform is a dominant criterion in defining these regions, rather than an altitudinal threshold. As a result, the CEC mountain ecological regions are broad and diverse systems, including mountains, plateaus and valleys.

2.1.2 USA

The source for the GEZ of USA is the map Ecoregions of the United States (Bailey, 1994). The classification of ecoregions is based on the Köppen-Trewartha climate system distinguishing broad domains equivalent to climate groups and within these domains, divisions approximately equivalent to climate types. The presence of mountains is an additional criterion in the classification and within each division a lowland and a mountain class are distinguished. An essential feature of mountainous regions is the altitudinal differentiation or zonation of vegetation and climate.

As the FAO GEZ classification makes use of the same Köppen-Trewartha climate system, delineation of GEZ for USA was therefore simple. However, a few differences occur between Bailey’s US ecoregions and FAO’s GEZ classification:

a) The definition, delimitation by Bailey of a Prairie Division (250), a transition zone between steppe (310, 330) to the west and subtropical (220) and warm-hot continental (210, 220) forest Divisions to the east. This Prairie Division is subdivided into a northern temperate Province and a southern subtropical Province. According to Dr Bailey (pers. communication), this Division has more affinity with FAO’s steppe zones than with the forest zones. Therefore, the northern, temperate Province (251) has been classified as FAO’s temperate steppe (TeBSk) while the southern, subtropical Province has been classified as subtropical steppe (SBSh).

b) Difference in mountain classification: FAO distinguishes only one zone of mountain systems within each domain, while Bailey subdivides each Division into a lowland ecoregion and a mountain ecoregion. However, the two systems are easily comparable, as the grouping of various mountain ecoregions into one FAO mountain zone is straightforward (Table 4).

Table 4. LUT United States.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecoregion – Division





410 Savannah Division, (Everglades)



230 Subtropical Division


260 Mediterranean Division


250 Prairie Division

255 Prairie Parkland (Subtropical) Province

310 Subtropical steppe


320 Subtropical Desert Division


M230 Subtropical Regime Mountains

M260 Mediterranean Regime Mountains

M310 Subtropical Steppe Regime Mountains



240 Marine Division


210 Warm continental Division

220 Hot continental Division


250 Prairie Division:

251 Prairie Parkland (Temperate) Province

330 Temperate steppe Division


340 Temperate desert Division


M210 Warm Continental Division

M220 Hot Continental Regime Mountains

M240 Marine Regime Mountains

M330 Temperate Steppe Regime Mountains

M340 Temperate Desert Regime Mountains



130 Subarctic Division


M130 Subarctic Regime Mountains



120 Tundra Division

M120 Tundra Regime Mountains

Source: Ecoregions of the United States (Bailey, 1994)

2.1.3 Mexico

The same source map was used as for Canada, the CEC ecological regions of North America (CEC, 1997). In addition, climatic data were studied to verify the approximate delineation of the FAO GEZ. This was particularly needed to determine the reclassification of the CEC Level II ecological regions under Tropical Wet and Tropical dry forests. The greater part of the Tropical Wet forests correspond to FAO GEZ moist deciduous forest (TAwa), while most of the Tropical Dry Forests ecological regions are part of GEZ tropical dry forest (TAwb).

Table 5. LUT Mexico.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecological region Level II





15.1 (part) Humid Gulf of Mexico coastal plains and hills

15.3 Sierra Los Tuxtlas


15.1 (part) Humid Gulf of Mexico coastal plains and hills

15.2 Plain and hills of the Yucatan Peninsula

15.5 Western Pacific plain and hills

15.6 Coastal plain and hills of Soconusco

14.1 Dry Gulf of Mexico coastal plains and hills

14.5 (part) Southern Pacific coastal plain and hills


14.2 Northwestern plain of the Yucatan Peninsula

14.3 Western Pacific coastal plain, hills and canyons

14.4 Interior depressions

14.5 (part) Southern Pacific coastal plain and hills

14.6 Sierra and plains of El Cabo


13.3 Eastern Sierra Madre

13.4 Transversal neo-volcanic system

13.5 Southern Sierra Madre

13.6 Central American Sierra Madre and Chiapas highlands



9.5 Texas-Louisiana coastal plain

9.6 Tamaulipas-Texas semi-arid plain

12.1Western Sierra Madre piedmont

12.2 Mexican high plateau


10.2 Sonoran and Mohave deserts

10.3 Baja Californian desert

10.4 Chihuahuan desert


13.2 Western Sierra Madre

Source: Ecological regions of North America (CEC, 1997)

2.1.4 Central America

National Holdridge Life Zone maps were used to compile the GEZ map for Central America. Such maps are available for all countries (see references).

The Holdridge Life Zone classification system is a predictive scheme for identifying and delimiting potential vegetation or Life Zones based generally upon the effects of temperature, rainfall and evapotranspiration and also taking into account elevation (Holdridge, 1967).

Since the FAO GEZ system is more general than the Holdridge Life Zone system, several life zones needed to be aggregated into a single GEZ. To start with, applying the temperature criteria of the FAO system, the whole of Central America is within the tropical domain. (According to Holdridge biotemperature criteria, portions are subtropical). The Tropical and Premontane belts of the Holdridge Life Zone system correspond with GEZ Tropical lowland zones, while the Lower Montane, Montane and Sub-Alpine belts are aggregated into GEZ Tropical mountain systems (TM). The Tropical and Subtropical lowland and premontane Life Zones were than classified according to the range of ecological parameters, primarily amount and distribution of rainfall or length of the dry season. There is a good correspondence between the Holdridge life zone humidity provinces and GEZ. For example, all life zones indicated “wet” or “rain” belong to GEZ tropical rain forest (TAr); the “moist” Life zones, except two, correspond with Tropical moist deciduous forest (TAwa); and the “Dry” ones belong to tropical dry forest (TAwb).

Table 6. LUT Central America.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Holdridge Life zone





Tropical wet forest

Tropical moist forest (marine association)

Premontane wet forest (hot transition)

Premontane rain forest

Subtropical wet forest

Subtropical rain forest


Tropical moist forest

Tropical moist forest (monsoonal association)

Premontane moist forest (hot transition)

Subtropical moist forest


Tropical dry forest

Subtropical dry forest

Premontane moist forest (fc)


Tropical very dry forest

Subtropical thorn woodland


Lower Montane moist forest

Lower Montane wet forest

Lower Montane rain forest

Montane moist forest

Montane wet forest

Montane rain forest

SubAlpine rain paramo

Sources: various national Holdridge Life zones maps and Holdridge (1967)

2.1.5 Caribbean Islands

Source map for the Caribbean GEZ is the Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World map (WWF, 2000). Ecoregions are defined on the basis of shared ecological features, climate and plant and animal communities. A driving principle in the mapping is to present the best available national-regional information, rather than applying a common global classification framework. As a result, the scale of zoning and mapping is generally more detailed than the FAO GEZ system, which is clearly reflected in the LUT.

In addition to the above source map, climatic data and DEM data were used to establish the correspondence. Based on rainfall data (annual amount, length of dry season), it appeared that the moist forest ecoregions correspond generally with GEZ Tropical rain forest (TAr), the dry forest ecoregions with GEZ Tropical moist deciduous forest (TAwa) and the scrub ecoregions with Tropical dry forest (TAwb).

Table 7. LUT Caribbean.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecoregion





Cuban Moist Forest

Hispaniolan Moist Forest

Jamaican Moist Forest

Leeward Islands Moist Forest

Puerto Rican Moist Forest

Windward Islands Moist Forest



Bahamian Dry Forest

Cayman Islands Dry Forest

Cuban Dry Forest

Hispaniolan Dry Forest

Jamaican Dry Forest

Leeward Islands Dry Forest

Puerto Rican Dry Forest

Windward Islands Dry Forest

Cuban Wetland

Enriquillo Wetland

Bahamian Mangroves

Greater Antilles Mangroves

Lesser Antilles Mangroves



Cuban Cactus Scrub

Leeward Islands Xeric Scrub

Windward Islands Xeric Scrub



Bahamian Pine Forest

Cuban Pine Forest

Hispaniolan Pine Forest

Source: Terrestrial Ecoregions of the world (WWF, 2000)

2.2 Europe

The eastern boundary of Europe is defined by the Urals down to the western shores of the Caspian Sea.

The source map to compile the GEZ for Europe is the General Map of the Natural Vegetation of Europe (Bohn et al., 2000). The map shows the distribution of dominant potential natural plant communities corresponding to the actual climate and edaphic conditions. Further, it shows the regular natural distribution of the vegetation in correlation with longitude, latitude and altitude as well as the distribution and structure of the most important azonal vegetation types. The classification is organized in a hierarchic structure. At the highest level, 19 vegetation formations and formation complexes are distinguished, based on physiognomic-ecological features of the natural plant cover. They are designated by capital letters A to U (see Appendix II-2). 14 of these main units (A-O) represent the predominant zonal formations characterized by the prevailing life forms. They correspond to the main macroclimatic zones and belts in a sequence following the gradient from a cold and wet (north-northwest, high altitude) to a warm and dry (south-southeast) climate. The azonal formations P-U are partly characterized by heterogeneous physiognomy dependent on varied site conditions, especially coastal, mire and flood plain units. At the next level, each formation is subdivided into subgroups according to its most important features such as prevailing life forms, dominant species and species groups. For instance, within the mesophytic deciduous broadleaved and mixed coniferous-broadleaved forests (F), 7 subgroups (F1- F7) have been distinguished which are characterized by the dominance of different tree species. They reflect different edaphic, climatic and phytogeographical conditions. The third level, not shown in Appendix II-2, represents the basic mapping units and comprises altogether some 650 units.

The correspondence between the Europe Natural Vegetation map and the FAO GEZ is presented in table 8. The vegetation types in bold occur only in that particular GEZ (one to one) and as can be seen, quite a number of source classes correspond to more than one GEZ. The source classes are approximately sorted by area extension. The following comments serve to further clarify the correspondence:

a. The whole Mediterranean region, in the European system classified as an entity separate from the subtropics, is part of the subtropical domain in the FAO GEZ. The zonal formation “Mediterranean sclerophyllous forests and scrub vegetation (J)”, characterizes the GEZ subtropical dry forests (SCs). In addition some sub-Mediterranean vegetation types (G) and Xerophytic coniferous forests (K) are part of the zone.

b. The temperate domain is largely dominated by the “Mesophytic deciduous broadleaved and mixed broadleaved-coniferous forests (F)” and the boundary between the oceanic zone (TeDo) and the continental zone (TeDc) roughly coincides with the boundary between F5a, forests dominated by beech and F3 to the east. The latter are mixed oak-hornbeam forests and presence of hornbeam replacing beech indicates a continental climate. Besides F3, type D8 “mixed forest dominated by conifers” is a major vegetation of TeDc and the northern limit forms the boundary with the Boreal coniferous forests (Ba) to the north.

c. The forest-steppe formation (L), a transition zone between continental forest and steppe, has been classified as GEZ Temperate continental forest (TeDc). According to regional experts (Udo Bohn, Anatoly Shvidenko), the formation has more affinity with forest than with steppe.

d. A number of vegetation types correspond with a lowland GEZ and as well with a mountain GEZ. The latter is usually located in a domain at lower latitude (for example type G3 corresponds both with TeDo and SM). These general regularities were helpful in delineation of mountain systems. The altitudinal threshold is on average around 800 m.

Table 8. LUT Europe.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Vegetation formation





Hygro-thermophilous mixed deciduous broad-leaved forests (H)

Swamp and fen forests (alder, birch) (T)

Caucasian mixed hornbeam-oak forests (F7)


Mediterranean sclerophyllous forests and scrub (all types: J1 – J8)

Mediterranean mixed deciduous broadleaved forests (G3, G2, G4)

Mediterranean pine forests (K2, K1)

Azonal vegetation (U1, P1, P2)


Mediterranean mixed deciduous broadleaved forests (G4, G3, G2)

Montane beech and mixed beech forests (F5b)

Xerophytic coniferous forests and scrub (K4, K3, K1)

Subalpine and oro-Mediterranean vegetation (C3)

Supra-Mediterranean oak forests (J1b)

Oroxerophytic vegetation (N)



Mesophytic deciduous broadleaved and mixed broadleaved-coniferous forests (F5a, F1a, F2, F3)

Sub-Mediterranean broadleaved, oak dominated forests (G3)

Hemiboreal coniferous forests with broadleaved trees (D8a, D12a)

Azonal vegetation (U1, U2, S1, T, P1)


Mesophytic deciduous broadleaved and mixed broadleaved-coniferous forests (F3, F4a, F1a, F5a, F7)

Hemiboreal coniferous forests with broadleaved trees (D8a, D12a, D11a)

Forest steppes (L1a, L2, L1b)

Broadleaved, oak dominated forests (G2, G1, G3)

Steppes (M2b)

Azonal vegetation (U1, T, S3, S1, P2, R)


Steppes (M2a, M1a, M3, M4)

Azonal vegetation (U1, R, P2, P1)

Pine forests, partly with broad-leaved trees (D12a)


Deserts (O1, O2)

Azonal vegetation (U1, P2, R, P1)

Oroxerophytic vegetation (N)


Mesophytic deciduous broadleaved and mixed broadleaved-coniferous forests (F5b, F6, F4b, F1b)

Montane coniferous forests, partly with broadleaved trees (D9, D8b, D12b)

Subalpine vegetation (C3)

Alpine vegetation (B5)

Montane steppes (M2b, M1b)

Nemoral, sub-and oro-Mediterranean pine forests (K1)

Oroxerophytic vegetation (N)



Boreal coniferous forests (D1 – D6, D10, D11b, D8a)

Azonal vegetation, mostly mires (S1, S2, U1)

Southern arctic and shrub tundras – Iceland (B3)

Western boreal and montane birch forests, with pine – Iceland (C2)


Eastern boreal woodlands (C1)

Azonal vegetation: mires (S2, S3)


Western boreal and montane birch forests, with pine (C2)

Alpine vegetation (B5, B4)

Montane (Ural) coniferous forests (D7, D5)

Subnival-nival vegetation of high mountains (A2)

Atlantic dwarf shrub heaths (E)

Azonal vegetation: ombrotrophic mires (S1)



Arctic tundras (B3, B1, B2)

Arctic-subarctic ombro-minerotrophic mires (S2)

Arctic polar deserts (A1)

Source: General Map of the Natural Vegetation of Europe (1:10 million) coordinated by U. Bohn et al.. (2000).

2.3 Northern Asia (Asian part of the former Soviet Union)

The map of vegetation of the USSR (Isachenko et al., 1990) has been used as the main source for the delineation of the GEZ in territories of the former Soviet Union The recently published map of vegetation of Russia and some neighbouring countries (Ogureeva et al., 1999) has been used for cross-checking and verification of certain boundaries.

The vegetation map of the USSR, scale 1: 4 million, represents 133 vegetation classes which are combined in 13 aggregated categories of vegetation. The "restored" or natural vegetation that existed before the transformation of land is indicated on areas currently under agriculture. The map presents major regularities of latitudinal (due to change of solar and thermal regimes) and regional (due to level of "oceanality-continentality" of climate) differentiation of vegetation at the continental scale; altitudinal types of vegetation communities in mountains; specifics of azonal and intrazonal vegetation; some features of natural and anthropogenic dynamics of vegetation cover; other information. Altogether, the basic map legend comprises more than 350 different units of vegetation / land cover.

The map "Zones and altitudinal zonality types of vegetation of Russia and adjacent territories" (Ogureeva et al., 1999), scale 1: 8 million, presents general regularities of spatial distribution of natural vegetation in plains and mountains. For the zonal lowland vegetation, the system uses three classification levels: zones, subzones and for each sub-zone, due to change of "oceanality-continentality" of climate, geographical variants. For mountain regions, the major unit of the classification used for vegetation differentiation in mountains is an altitudinal vegetation belt; systems, types and geographical variants of altitudinal zonality are major classifying categories.

The LUT shows the correspondence between the GEZ and the two source maps and indicates that the two source maps are very compatible in classification and terminology.

Delineation of mountain systems is based on the definition of mountain forests according to Russian forest inventory manuals (FFSR, 1995): “All forests (including areas covered by dwarf pine, shrubbery birch, etc.) are accounted for as mountain forests, when they grow in mountain systems or in separate mountain massifs with the change of relative heights of the territory more than 100 m and average slope from the foot of mountains to watersheds of mountain ranges, or to the altitudinal tree line is more 5o (independently upon some parts have slope less 5o), as well as all forests of mountain plateau and uplands, independently upon slope of terrain”.

To be consistent with the reclassification for Europe, the forest-steppe in Northern Asia has been classified as GEZ Temperate continental forest (TeDc). On the same grounds, the sub-Taiga, a transitional belt at the southern limits of the Taiga and occupied by mixed coniferous-broadleaved forests, has been also included in the same GEZ (TeDc). The former belt constitutes the southern limit of this GEZ, the latter the northern limit.

Table 9. LUT Northern Eurasia.

FAO system

Corresponding source class


Isachenko map 1

MGU/BI map2,3



1000 Polar Desert (1)

2110 Arctic Plain Tundra (1)

2200 Mountain (3) Tundra

2120 Northern Tundra (4)

2130 Southern Tundra (2)

A.1. Polar Desert (2)

A.2. Arctic Tundra (4)

A.3. Typical Tundra (5)

A.4. Southern Tundra (5)

1-3. (Mountain) arctic types (3)

4-9. (Mountain) Tundra (6)



1100 Shrub communities

4111 Pre-tundra Sparse Forests (3)

?.1. Forest tundra (6)

10-22 Hypoarctic (Mountain) Types (13) 4


4112 Northern Taiga Forests (4)

4113 Middle Taiga Forests (5)

4114 Southern Taiga Forests (4)

?.2. Northern Taiga (6)

?.3. Middle Taiga (8)

?.4. Southern Taiga (5)


4211 Sub-alpine Sparse Forests (2)

4212 Mountain Taiga Forests (7)

23-49. Boreal (Taiga) Types (27)



4115 Sub-Taiga (Plain) Forests (4)

5100 Broad-leaved (Plain) Forests (6)

4120 Forest Steppe Forests (2)

?.5. Sub-Taiga (7)

B.1. Subzone of Broad-Leaved Forests (4)

B.2. Subzone of Forest Steppe (7)


6100 Plain Steppe (7)

?. Steppe Zone (12)


7100 Plain Desert (11)

D. Desert Zone (8)


7200 Mountain Desert (7)

7300 Sub-Alpine Desert (1)

6200 Mountain Steppe (8)

6300 Sub-alpine Mountain Steppe (3)

8000 Savannoides (mountain) (4)

9000 Phryganoides (4)

4220 Mountain Temperate Dark Coniferous Forests (4)

5200 Broad-leaved (Mountain) Forests (6)

Mountain Sparse Forests and Shrub

3000 Sub-alpine Sparse Forests (1)

52-72. Nemoral Mountain (Broad-Leaved Forests) (23)

73-77. Subarid (5) Mountain

Note: 1 Table contains aggregated classification units of the original maps. Number of initial classes presented in Isachenko map is indicated in brackets. Azonal (e.g., bogs) and intrazonal classes of plains are included in zonal aggregations. 2,3 Number of geographical variants by Ogureeva et al. (1999) is presented in brackets. 4 The territories are distributed between Bb and BM.

2.4 Other non-tropical Asia

2.4.1 China

The ecological zoning for China was mainly based on the map and manuscript “Geographic Distribution of China’s Main Forests” (Zheng de Zhu, 1992). In addition, the Vegetation map of China (Hou Xue-Yu, 1983) and a paper by Zheng Du (FAO, 2000) on the eco-geographic regionalisation of China provided valuable information. Zheng Du also advised on the final delineation and classification of the GEZ for China.

The map of the Geographic Distribution of China’s Main Forests has a hierarchic structure with three levels (Appendix II-3). At the highest level China is divided into two main regions: the Monsoon moist region, roughly the eastern half of China and the Interior dry region to the west. The boundary between the two regions is approximately following the 500 mm isohyet. At the second level, the primary factor for classification is temperature; the Monsoon moist region, where China’s forest is concentrated, is subdivided in 8 zones, ranging from cold-temperate in the north to “quasi-tropical” in the south. The third, Division level is classified with consideration of distribution of forest types and dominant species. As the classification system is focused on forests, non-forested areas such as arid rangelands, deserts and grasslands are not categorized at the division level. Additional factors used in the classification are topography and landform. Both at the second and third level, mountain classes are distinguished.

The correspondence between the source map and the FAO GEZ was established by comparing climatic criteria of both systems. The reclassification of Divisions of the eastern Monsoon Moist region is as follows, from north to south:

• cold temperate zone corresponds with GEZ boreal coniferous forest (Ba);

• divisions of the central temperate and eastern warm temperate zone correspond with GEZ temperate continental forest (TeDc), except for mountain divisions which are part of TeM;

• all divisions (no. 8 – 12) of the Western Medium to High Mountain Temperate Zone are classified as Temperate Mountain systems (TeM);

• divisions of the Northern - , Middle – and Southern Subtropical zone are part of GEZ subtropical humid forest (SCf), except for mountain divisions;

• quasi-tropical divisions correspond with the Tropical domain. 21 and 22 belong to GEZ TAwa and 23 to TM.

The interior dry region comprises vast mountain systems, including the Tibetan plateau and temperate deserts and steppe. Delineation of mountain systems was done with help of DEM data and the 1000 m contour was taken as threshold.

Table 10. LUT China.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Geographic divisions of Chinas main forests





(21) Leizhou Peninsula Division

(22) Hainan Island Division


(23) Southern Yunnan Division



(13) Middle-to-Lower Changjiang Alluvial Plain Division

(15) South of Changjiang Low Mountain Division

(16) Sichuan Basin Division

(18) Taiwan Division

(19) South China Hilly Division


(14) Qinling Range and Dabashan Mountain Division

(17) Yunnan Plateau Division

(20) Western Guangxi and Central-Southern Yunnan Division

Parts of Central Temperate zone, Interior dry Region



(2) Eastern Mountain Division

(4) Liaodong Peninsula and Shandong Peninsula Division

(5) Huanghuaihai Coastal Plain Division


(3) Western Plain Division

Parts of Central Temperate zone, Interior dry Region


Parts of Central Temperate zone, Interior dry Region


(6) North China Middle-to-Low Mountain Division

(7) The Loess Plateau Division

(8) Southern Gansu and Northern Sichuan Division

(9) Eastern Kangding Division

(10) Western Kangding Division

(11) Southern Sichuan and Northwestern Yunnan Division

(12) Southeastern Tibet Division

(24) Altai Mountain Division

(25) Tianshan Mountain Division

(26) Qilianshan Mountain Division

Parts of Central Temperate zone, Interior dry Region



(1) Daxinganling Division

Source: Geographic Distribution of China’s Main Forests (Zheng de Zhu, 1992).

2.4.2 Mongolia, Japan and Korea Peninsula

For these countries the map of Terrestrial Ecoregions of the world (WWF, 2000) was used as source. The following primary sources were used to delineate the Ecoregions: Mongolia's wild heritage (Mongolia Ministry for Nature and Environment, 1996), Distribution of forest vegetation and climate in the Korean peninsula (Yim, 1977) and the Potential Natural Vegetation map of Japan (Miyawaki, 1975).

Table 11. LUT Mongolia.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecoregion





Dagurian Forest Steppe

Mongolian-Manchurian Grassland


Alashan Plateau Semi-Desert

Eastern Gobi Desert Steppe

Gobi Lakes Valley Desert Steppe

Great Lakes Basin Desert Steppe

Junggar Basin Semi-Desert

Taklimakan Desert


Altai Alpine Meadow and Tundra

Altai Montane Forest and Forest Steppe

Khangai Mountains Alpine Meadow

Khangai Mountains Conifer Forest

Selenge-Orkhon Forest Steppe



Sayan Alpine Meadow and Tundra

Sayan Intermontane Steppe

Sayan Montane Conifer Forest

Trans-Baikal Conifer Forest

Source: Terrestrial Ecoregions of the world (WWF, 2000)

Table 12. LUT Korea Peninsula.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecoregion





Southern Korea Evergreen Forest



Central Korean Deciduous Forest

Manchurian Mixed Forest

Changbai Mountains Mixed Forest

Source: Terrestrial Ecoregions of the world (WWF, 2000)

Table 13. LUT Japan.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecoregion





Nihonkai Evergreen Forest

Taiheiyo Evergreen Forest


Taiheiyo Montane Deciduous Forest



Hokkaido Deciduous Forest

South Sokhalin-Kurile Mixed Forest


Hokkaido Montane Conifer Forest

Honshu Alpine Conifer Forest

Nihonkai Montane Deciduous Forest

Source: Terrestrial Ecoregions of the world (WWF, 2000)

2.4.3 Middle East

The Middle East is the geographic region bordering Europe, former USSR, Tropical Asia and Africa and comprises the following countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The main sources that were consulted for producing the Ecological Zone map for the region were the Vegetation map (UNESCO-FAO, 1970) and the bioclimatic map of the Mediterranean zone (UNESCO-FAO, 1963). Zohary (1973), Quezel (1977) and Barkoudah (1998) provide good background information on vegetation and bioclimate of the Middle East.

After a study of the maps and consultation with the regional expert, Youssef Barkoudah, the two UNESCO-FAO maps were found to be most suitable sources for the EZ mapping, in particular the vegetation map. They are presenting the two main features or set of criteria that form the basis for the FAO global Ecological Zone classification, i.e. climate and potential vegetation. Although the climatic criteria used in the UNESCO-FAO bioclimatic map differ from Köppen-Trewartha, there is a good general correspondence between the two systems. The UNESCO-FAO vegetation map was used for the delineation of the Ecological Zones. This map depicts the potential vegetation formations in relation to climate. The various formations are distinguished on basis of physiognomy.

Characteristic for the region is the large extent of dry Ecological Zones, both desert and sub-desert, with no - or sparse vegetation. Mountains are also extensive and most forests in the region are confined to mountains, in particular the wetter submontane zones. Steppe vegetation, dominated by grass and shrubs, cover the drier mountain zones.

Table 14. LUT Middle East.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Vegetation formations





14 Tropical biased formations. 15 Transitional formations .

16 Perennial formations with or without ephemerophytes in accentuated desert climates. 17 Ephemerophyte-dominated formations 18 Sparse ephemerophyte formations or no vegetation.



4 Mountain forest – Junicepera procera.

6 Upland formation (1000 – 2000 m) with Junicepera procera and Podocaropus gracilior. 12 Mountain thorny scrub and thickets.



28 Formations of the sub-humid Mediterranean stage.

50 Formations of the sub-Mediterranean submountain stage.



26 Formations of the western Mediterranean evergreen oak stage.

27 Formations of the eastern Mediterranean evergreen oak stage.



11 Shrub or tree pseudosteppe and savannah, thickets and open forest.

12 Bush shrub and tree pseudosteppe and savannah and thickets.

19 Arbuscular shrub pseudosteppe in warm temperate climates.

20 Arbuscular shrub pseudosteppe in temperate climate. 21 Lowland. 23 Shrub or tree pseudosteppe in less dry climate. 25 Steppe with or without trees or shrubs.



16 Perennial formations with or without ephemerophytes in accentuated desert climates. 18 Sparse ephemerophyte formations or no vegetation.

13 Mediterranen biased formations. 15 Transitional formations.



21 Upland steppe, with or without shrubs. 22 Shrub or tree pseudosteppe in very dry climate. 24 Temperate and cold temperate climates with shrub pseudosteppe or pistachio-almond tree pseudosteppe. 25 Mainly high steppe with or without trees or shrubs. 30 High mountain steppe and grassland. 31 Plateau and submontane steppe. 33 Steppes or tree steppes with pistachio, almond and Juniper. 34 Steppe or tree steppes with juniper. 35 Oak and juniper forest stage formations. 36 Formations of the deciduous and semi deciduous forest stage; 37 Formations of the western sub-Mediterranean oak and pine stage; 38 Formations of the eastern sub-Mediterranean oak and pine stage; 39 Formations of the fir and cedar stage; 40 – 46: Mountain formations (Temperate and cold axeric climates).



47 Formations of the western humid submountain stage.

48 Formations of the western dry submountain stage.


32 Lowland steppes.


51 Steppe and desert formations.

Source: Vegetation map of the Mediterranean zone (UNESCO – FAO, 1970)

2.5 South America, Africa and Tropical Asia

These three regions are presented together, as the source maps are all of the same type, i.e. the ecofloristic zone (EFZ) maps. These EFZ maps were developed during FRA1990 to report forest resources information by Ecological Zone. The work was carried out by ICIV, now the Laboratoire d' Ecologie Terrestre (LET), Toulouse, France. As part of the FRA2000 ecological zoning LET has updated and amended the EFZ maps. This involved the development of a consistent classification and coding for the three continents and refinement of the EFZ delineation by using more recent (potential) vegetation maps and digital elevation model (DEM) data.

The EFZ classification has two levels (Appendix II-4). At the broadest level 28 groups of ecofloristic zones, indicated with Roman numerals, are defined, based on climate, vegetation physiognomy and physiography, i.e. altitude. The ecofloristic zone identifies the most detailed ecological units where floristic composition together with geographic location played a major role in their identification and delineation (LET, 2000).

A case study on South America was carried out prior to the Cambridge meeting, mainly to test the compatibility between the EFZ classification for the tropics and the proposed global framework based on Köppen-Trewartha. The results of this study indicated a good overall correspondence between the systems, with a significant amendment to divide the Köppen-Trewartha tropical Aw, the seasonally dry zone, into a wetter (3 to 5 dry months) and drier (5 to 8 dry months) zone. This division better reflects the vegetation zonation in the tropics: moist deciduous forest followed by dry forest and woodlands further away from the equator.

After completing the GEZ for South America, the correspondence was established for Africa and Asia and one common LUT prepared (Table 15). The altitudinal threshold between lowland and mountains is generally taken at 1000 meter, with some local variations. In certain regions in Asia, for instance western Ghats, India and the mountain range of Sumatra, Indonesia, the threshold is as high as 1500 - 1800 meter. The threshold is based on a clear change in physiognomy and species composition of the forest.

Table 15. LUT South America, Africa and Tropical Asia.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecofloristic zone (Group)






Tropical lowland, wet and very wet



Tropical lowland, subhumid with dry season



Tropical lowland, dry with pronounced dry season



Tropical lowland, very dry and semi-arid



Tropical lowland, arid











Tropical medium elevation wet

Tropical medium elevation subhumid

Tropical medium elevation dry

Tropical medium elevation semi-arid

Tropical montane moist

Tropical montane subhumid

Tropical montane dry

Tropical montane semi-arid

Tropical high elevation




Subtropical lowland humid and subhumid



Subtropical lowland seasonally dry



Subtropical lowland semi-arid








Subtropical medium elevation humid

Subtropical medium elevation seasonally dry

Subtropical medium elevation semi-arid

Subtropical montane humid

Subtropical montane seasonally dry

Subtropical high elevation




Temperate lowland oceanic



Temperate lowland semi-arid



Temperate mountain

Source: Ecofloristic zone maps (LET, 2000)

2.6 Oceania

2.6.1 Australia

The main source for the GEZ of Australia is the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (Thackway et al., 1995). Additional sources that were consulted are a Climate map of Australia (Dick, 1975), which follows the Köppen classification and Australia’s State of the Forests Report (BRS, 1998). The latter report presents maps on current forest distribution by forest type, crown cover density and other attributes.

The Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) defines so called IBRA regions or biogeographic regions for Australia to serve as a national framework for the conservation of biodiversity. The major attributes used to define and delineate the IBRA regions are: climate, lithology/geology, landform, vegetation, flora and fauna and land use. A total of 80 IBRA regions have been identified and mapped.

The global ecological zoning for Australia, carried out by Australia’s Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS), was complicated for the following reasons:

a. For Australia the correlation between vegetation physiognomy and climate is less distinct or different as in other regions. The use of Köppen-Trewartha climate types as a basis for ecological zoning is therefore less valid and more complicated to implement. For instance, in most tropical semi-arid regions (TBSh) the dominant vegetation is shrubland, however, woodlands dominate this zone in Australia. In the Australian deserts, vegetation is generally better developed compared to other deserts.

b. Difference in terminology / classification between the commonly applied climate system in Australia and the FAO GEZ system. For instance, the southwest and most of southeastern Australia are generally referred to as (warm) temperate or Mediterranean in the Australian system. In the FAO GEZ system these regions are part of the subtropical domain.

The correspondence between the Australia sources and the GEZ was established by first identifying and delineating the approximate Köppen-Trewartha climate types and then correlate the boundaries with the IBRA regions and distribution of natural vegetation. The resulting LUT is presented in Table 16. As an intermediate level between the source units, the IBRA regions and the FAO GEZ, BRS distinguishes 14 ecozones with relatively uniform climate and vegetation. The relationship between these ecozones and the further aggregated GEZ level is shown in the LUT and explained below:

• The subtropical dry forest zone (SCs) is divided into a typical Mediterranean zone (ecozone 12) with a warm and dry summer in the southwest of Australia and ecozone 11 in the central south characterized by a cool summer and a less distinct seasonality of rainfall.

• The subtropical steppe zone (SBSh) consists of 2 northern ecozones (no. 5 and 6) with typical subtropical characteristics (even rainfall, slightly higher during summer), while rainfall in the southern ecozone 13 is concentrated in winter. Also vegetation is distinctly different between the zones. For instance, ecozone 6 is defined based on dominance of low Acacia aneura woodlands and shrublands commonly known as “Mulga”.

• The Australian deserts (SBWh) are divided into deserts dominated by (sparse) shrubs (ecozone 7) and grassland deserts (ecozone 8).

• The temperate mountain systems (TeM) comprises a zone of medium altitude (ecozone 10) and the high altitude Australian Alps (ecozone 14).

Table 16. LUT Australia.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Biogeographic region (IBRA)







Ecozone 1

Central Mackay Coast

Wet Tropics









Ecozone 2

Cape York Peninsula

North Kimberley

Victoria Bonaparte

Top End Coastal

Pine Creek- Arnhem

Central Arnhem

Daly Basin












Ecozone 3

Gulf Plains

Einasleigh Uplands

Ord-Victoria Plains

Gulf Fall Uplands

Brigalow Belt North

Sturt Plateau


Central Kimberley

Desert Uplands

Gulf Coastal






Ecozone 4

South East Queensland

NSW North Coast

Sydney Basin







Ecozone 11 (cool summer)

Naracoorte Coastal Plain

Lofty Block


Ecozone 12 (summer dry)

Jarrah Forest

Swan Coastal Plain

Table 16. continued



Corresponding source class: Biogeographic region (IBRA)

















Ecozone 5 (northern subtropical)

Brigalow Belt South

Darling Riverine Plain

NSW South West Slopes

Cobar Peneplain


Ecozone 6 (northern subtropical, drier than 5)

Mulga Lands

Ecozone 13 (southern warm temperate)

Murray - Darling Depression


Avon Wheatbelt


Eyre and Yorke Block

Victorian Midlands

Esperance Plains

Geraldton Sandplains


Shrub-sand deserts (22 regions) – Ecozone 7

Grass-sand deserts (3 regions) – Ecozone 8












Ecozone 9

South East Corner

Victorian Volcanic Plain

West and South West

South East Coastal Plain


Ben Lomond










Ecozone 10 (> 800 m)

South Eastern Highlands

New England Tableland

Central Highlands

Tasmanian Midlands

Ecozone 14 (> 1200 m)

Australian Alps

Source: Bureau of Rural Sciences, Australia (based on Thackway et al., 1995)

2.6.2 New Zealand

For the GEZ of New Zealand, the Terrestrial Ecoregions of the world map (WWF, 2000) was used as source. The primary source for delineation of Terrestrial Ecoregions is "Ecological regions and districts of New Zealand" (New Zealand Department of Conservation. 1987).

The correspondence was established by correlating the source map with the distribution of Köppen-Trewartha climate types (Figure 30). North Island is part of the subtropical domain, while South Island belongs to the temperate domain.

Table 17. LUT New Zealand.

FAO system

Corresponding source class: Ecoregion





Northland Temperate Kauri Forest

Northland Temperate Forest



Southland Temperate Forest

Westland Temperate Forest

Richmond Temperate forest

Cantebury-Otago Tussock Grassland

Rakiura Island Temperate Forest

Nelson Coast Temperate Forest


Fiordland Temperate Forest

Southland Montane Grassland

Source: Terrestrial Ecoregions of the world (WWF, 2000)

2.6.3 Pacific Islands

The GEZ of the Pacific Islands is based on the WWF Terrestrial Ecoregion map (WWF 2000) and study of climatic data. The whole region corresponds to GEZ Tropical rain forest (TAr).

2.7 Compilation of the global GEZ map

After producing the regional GEZ maps the global GEZ map was composed out of all the regional tiles. The process involved first the thematic aspect of edge-matching. This was particularly an issue for the vast area of Europe and Asia, where a number of different tiles had to be brought together with large bordering areas. The delineation of GEZ between the Europe part and the former USSR matched well, only little adjustments were needed. The same applies to the GEZ boundaries between Europe and the Middle East. Most attention needed the matching of the tiles Tropical Asia, China and the former USSR, complicated by the presence of extensive mountain systems on the border areas. In addition, there is considerable difference in detail of GEZ delineation between Tropical Asia and China. After solving the edge problems the GEZ regional tiles were transformed to a global base map: ESRI’s Digital Chart of the World (DCW), edition 1 December 1994. The base scale of the DCW is 1: 1 million. The end result, the GEZ map of the world, is presented on the next page. The GEZ map, together with other global maps produced by FRA2000, is also presented on the FAO Forestry-FRA website: under global maps.

Figure 31. Global Ecological Map of the world



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Tosi, J. A. & Hartshorn, G.S. 1978. Mapa Ecologico de El Salvador: Sistema de Zonas de Vida del Dr. LR. Holdridge. Scale 1 : 300 000. Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia de El Salvador y Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Enseñanza, Subprograma de Suelos Analogos de Centro America.


Bohn, U., Gollub, G. & Hettwer, C. 2000. General Map of the Natural Vegetation of Europe. Scale 1: 10 million. Bonn, Germany, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.


Isachenko, T.I., Karamysheva, Z.V., Ladygina, G.M., & Safronova, I.N. 1990. Map of vegetation of the USSR. Scale 1: 4 million. Moscow, Institute of Geography, RAS [in Russian].

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Zheng-de Zhu. 1992. Geographic Distribution of China’s Main Forests. Nanjing Forestry University, 55 pp + map.


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