Distribution and size of protected areas
Canada’s protected areas do not meet the Convention on Biological Diversity’s target to protect 10% of each of the world’s ecological regions. Although some terrestrial ecozones+ have greater than 10% protected, others, such as the Prairies and Mixedwood Plains, have a low percent protected, even though they have some of the highest biodiversity values in the country. No marine ecozones+ have 10% protected. The use of conservation corridors to enhance the biodiversity value of current protected areas in a fragmented landscape is an important and more recent conservation tool.
Size of terrestrial protected areas
Large protected areas are generally believed to have the greatest conservation value for the widest range of biodiversity. Less than 1% of Canada’s protected areas are larger than 5,000 km2, but these large areas comprise 59% of the total area protected. The 3% of protected areas larger than 1,000 km2 comprise 82% of the total area protected. In some places, adjacent protected areas create large protected area complexes. One of several examples is the Tatshenshini-Alsek/Kluane/Glacier Bay/Wrangell-St. Elias complex, which exceeds 98,000 km2 and crosses B.C., Yukon, and Alaska.
Small protected areas have a role in protecting rare species or species requiring specialized habitat. They can also serve as links between larger reserves. Most (72%) of the protected areas in Canada are less than 10 km2 in size. Altogether these small protected areas contribute less than 1% to the total area protected.
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