Extending from 5 to 1,150 metres above sea level, the area comprises agricultural areas, river ecosystems, estuarine tidal marshes and flats, coniferous and mixed forests, stunted vegetation and mountain tundra ecosystems. Maple forests including paper birch, alder and elm and with an understory of sumac, Acer pensylvanicum and Cornus alternifolia; mixed fir forest with Corylus cornuta, Sambucus pubens and Taxus canadensis; boreal forests up to an altitude of 300 metres with fir and spruce; estuarine tidal marsh and flats dominated by Scirpus americanus meadows including Zizania palustris, Sagittaria cuneata and S. latifolia; tundra with ericaceous zones consisting of Kalmia spp., Ledum groenlandicum; stunted vegetation community with Picea mariana and Abies balsamea; agro-ecosystems with cereals, fruits and legumes, and river ecosystems. Animal species in the area include beluga whale, wolf, boreal woodland caribou, North American cougar and blue whale. About 30,000 people live in the biosphere reserve (1988), which covers 457,000 hectares. In former times, the population of Charlevoix used to rely on the river and the sea, for example on coastal navigation, marine constructions and fisheries. Today, the economic landscape has diversified and major factors in the local economy are now forestry, silica mining, agriculture and tourism. The forest education centre ‘Les Palissades’ or the ecological centre ‘Port-au-Saumon’ are important institutions for environmental education in the area.