The Cordillera
by Melissa, Gillian and Brittany




The Cordillera has many different kinds of weather patterns due to it's vast mountainous terrain. For example, mountain vallies trap the warm air allowing the vegetation to grow. Mountains, on the other hand, have colder temperatures because of their high elevations. Here clouds pushed by wind, climb up the mountain slopes and as they travel they gather moisture until they are too heavy to climb. The result is that most of the moisture falls as rain or snow in the higher elevations leaving little moisture in the valley bottoms. Also within the Cordillera region the further away from the equator one travels the colder the temperatures are. This makes the northern part of the region colder. During the summer months, areas close to the shoreline create unpredictable windstorms that lash the west coast. Climate is hard to predict in the Cordillera because of the changing surface.


Natural Resouces

There are many links between landforms and natural resources in the Cordillera. The movement of the earth's plates formed the mountains over thousands of years. When two of these plates crashed together they pushed up through the earth's surface making many different shaped mountains. Without mountains there wouldn't be any minerals, as a mountain is a type of rock and minerals are found in rocks. The minerals found in this region are copper, iron, coal, silver, zinc, lead and nickel. Coal is one of the major minerals found in this region. It has been mined since the late 1800's. The remains of plants from millions of years ago formed coal. Most of Canada's coal was formed when dinosaurs lived.

Forestry is another main natural resource in the Cordillera. The rich soil found on the mountains gives the trees all the minerals and water they need. Also here the trees have lots of space to grow and help them stay healthy.

Water is also a very important natural resource found in this region. Water is linked to landforms because most of the fresh water comes from the mountainous terrain, which helps to create it through the precipitation of rain and snow. Long ago when the earth was covered in glaciers, they began to melt and as they retreated they dug hollows that were soon filled with runoff making the first lakes and rivers.

Fish is the last major natural resource in this region. Within the Cordillera, the western surface fades into the ocean. The protected shoreline gives the fish a home and a safe place to hide and reproduce.

These natural resources are important to the Cordillera's population and economics.


Industry & Jobs

There are many jobs and industries that are linked to the physical geography. Fishing is one of these industries. It is linked to landforms because the fish that are caught in the ocean are sold for money. The most valuable fish is salmon, but the finest fish is halibut. Canneries, close to the shorelines process the fish and from there, the fish are shipped around the world. Forestry is another important industry. The mountains provide everything that the trees need to grow. The trees that grow the best here are Evergreen (coniferous), which covers most of the Cordillera, Douglas Fir and Red Cedar. There are two different kinds of forests- in coastal forests for paper and pulp- and inland forests for lumber. 70% of Canada's lumber (softwood) is from this region. There are over 2000 sawmills and 30 lumber making mills that employee people. Tourism is another important industry. The mountainous terrain offers entertainment (example: Whistler mountain provides skiing, Mount Revelstoke National Park provides camping, and Shuswap lake provides fishing and picnics). People who live in this region spend lots of money to attract tourists, which in return helps people to have jobs. Within this region there is also some agriculture. Within the Okanogan Valley area, rich soil and long frost-free days allow fruit and vegetables to grow. BC is a major apple-growing province. Water within this region has many uses. For example damming rivers for the use in hydroelectricity and irrigation for valley bottoms to grow crops. Without irrigation crops could not grow as it remains too dry as there is little rain. These are only some ways people earn money but as you can see many of these industries have many other industries that are dependent on their success.


Is clearcutting an issue in the Cordillera?


Project Copyright © 2002 P. Milz, C. Fotheringham, A. Chobatuk, and Galileo Educational Network Association.
Student work copyright remains with the authors. Image copyright remains with the owner.