The geographic region of interest is the West Kootenay. The study area includes of the drainage area of the Lower Kootenay River within Canada and the drainage area of the Columbia River between the US border and the Beaton Arm of former Upper Arrow Lake. It includes portions of Monashee, Valhalla, Selkirk and Purcell Mountain ranges, with elevations ranging from 400 to 3200 meters.
The terrestrial ecosystems of the area are typical of the Inland Temperate Rainforest, dominated by western hemlock and western redcedar zonal forests at lower elevations, and Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir zonal stands at upper elevations. Other tree species that occur following disturbance and on edaphically controlled sites include Douglas-fir, western larch, white pine, lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, whitebark pine, grand fir, black cottonwood, paper birch, trembling aspen.
The social system component of the assessment is focus on forest managers and other stakeholders who play a significant role in determining various aspects of forest management in the region. The West Kootenay is characterised by a wide diversity of managers and stakeholders, including BC Ministry of Forests and Range staff, BC Minstry of Environment staff including wildlife managers and parks staff, First Nations, forestry staff of large, medim and small forest companies who operate in the area, woodlot licencees, community forest staff, forestry consultants, environmental groups, watershed managers and water user groups, and motorized and non-motorized recreation groups, From a forest products perspective, the study area is generally coincident with the Kootenay Lake and Arrow Timber Supply Areas.
The study area includes the communities of Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, Rossland, Creston, Kaslo, New Denver, Kaslo, Nakusp, Slocan, and Salmo, as well as numberous smaller towns and rural areas.