An ecozone is an area where organisms and their physical environment form a system. Most of the features which are used to determine an ecozone are normally thought of as natural—landforms, soils, water features, vegetation and climate. However, where human activities are extensive and are key to sustaining the character of the area, they must also be considered a factor. “The Terrestrial Ecozones of Canada” is a nationwide ecological framework developed by Environment Canada so that people in different areas, jurisdictions and disciplines share a common standardized geographical reference. This framework consists of 15 ecozones. Within these are 194 ecoregions.
This ecozone incorporates vast polar ice fields and has some of the most spectacular alpine glacier scenery in the world. Massive ice caps and glaciers mask many of the rugged mountains. Some of Canada's highest but least-known peaks are found here, towering over U-shaped valleys and deep fiords that extend many kilometres inland. This Arctic Cordillera occupies the northeastern fringe of the Northwest Territories and Labrador. These represent the only major mountainous ranges of Canada outside the western Cordillera. Back to map
The Atlantic Maritime ecozone covers all of the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Mixed-wood Acadian forests, sand dunes stretched along seaboards, and coastal islands are some of the unique ecosystems of the Atlantic Maritime ecozone. Back to map
This ecozone is located in the midsection of the Cordilleran system. It covers sections of northern British Columbia and southern Yukon. Consisting of extensive mountains and valleys separated by wide lowlands, this ecozone spans 444,000 square kilometres. The Boreal Cordillera ecozone contains most of Yukon's population. Whitehorse is the largest centre with a population of 23,000, while the entire ecozone is home to just 31,000 people (1991). Much of the valuable land for residential, agricultural and wildlife habitat is located in the valleys. First Nations have a significant voice in managing the environment of Yukon portion of this ecozone through Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement signed into law in February 1995. Back to map
The Boreal Plains ecozone is part of the flat Interior Plains of Canada - a northern extension of the Great Plains of North America. The subdued relief consists of low-lying valleys and plains stretching across the mid portions of Manitoba and Saskatchewan and continuing through almost two-thirds of Alberta. It covers 650,000 square kilometres (an area larger than Yukon). The majority of the surface waters are part of three watersheds: those of the Saskatchewan River, the Beaver River, and Peace, Athabasca and Slave Rivers. Timber covers 84% of the Boreal Plains and forestry is the primary industry. Less than 20% of the land area is devoted to agriculture. Back to map
Scientists call the area where the Canadian Shield and the boreal forest overlap the Boreal Shield. This area is the largest of Canada's 15 terrestrial ecozone. Stretching 3,800 kilometres from Newfoundland to Alberta, the Boreal Shield includes parts of six provinces, covers more than 1.8 million square kilometres and encompasses almost 20% of Canada's land mass and 10% of its fresh water. Almost two thirds of the country lies on Shield rock.
Canada's largest ecosystem, the boreal forest, forms a continuous belt from the east coast to the Rockies. It is a broad, U-shaped zone that extends from northern Saskatchewan east to Newfoundland, passing north of Lake Winnipeg, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Back to map
Canada has approximately 25% of the world's wetlands. The Hudson Plain alone embraces the bulk of this figure. The largest extensive area of wetlands in the world are associated with this ecozone. Some say it is the...
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