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Atlantic Maritime Ecozone evidence for key findings summary

Ecozone+ basics

The Atlantic Maritime Ecozone+ (AME) (Figure 1) is located on the southern Atlantic coastline of Canada and fully encompasses the three Canadian Maritime provinces as well as a portion of southern Quebec (see national map on page ii).

The AME is a diverse landscape characterized by several types of forest, rocky shorelines, agricultural lands, lakes, and rivers. The ocean’s proximity has a tremendous influence on the area’s physical features and climate and plays an important role in shaping its ecosystems.

Table 1 Summary of the main features of the ecozone+.
Area205,836 km2 (2.1% of Canada)
TopographyDominated by two features: the northern extension of the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal lowlands of the Northumberland Plain
ClimateCool, moist maritime climate
River basinsSt. Lawrence, St. Mary’s, and Miramichi rivers flowing to the Atlantic Ocean
Saint John River is the largest inland river
GeologyLandscape built by millions of years of volcanic and tectonic activity, mountain building, erosion, sedimentation, and several major glaciations
Mix of sedimentary and igneous bedrock
Surficial materials are 70% till
SettlementMajority of population located along low-lying coast
Major settlements include Halifax, Saint John, Moncton, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Rimouski, and Sherbrooke
EconomyResource-based industry (forestry, agriculture, fishing, mining)
Service industry
Some manufacturing
DevelopmentIntensive development limited to major coastal communities
Oil and gas development increasing offshore
National/global significanceSeven Canadian national parks or national park reserves (R): Cape Breton Highlands, Prince Edward Island, Fundy, Kejimkujik, Kouchibouguac, Forillon, and Sable Island (R)
Thirteen National Wildlife Areas: Boot Island, John Lusby Marsh, Chignecto, Sand Pond, Sea Wolf Island, Wallace Bay, Cape Jourimain, Portage Island, Portobello Creek, Shepody, Tintamarre, Pointe-au-Père, and Îles de l'Estuaire
Two biosphere reserves: Fundy and Southwest Nova
Eight Ramsar sites (wetlands of international significance): Baie de I’Isle-Verte, Chignecto, Musquodoboit Harbour, Southern Bight Minas Basin, Malpeque Bay, Mary’s Point, Shepody Bay, and Tabusintac Lagoon and River Estuary
Three Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network sites: Mary’s Point, Shepody Bay, and Southern Bight–Minas Basin
One World Heritage Site: Miguasha National Park of Quebec (Devonian fossil beds)
Highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy

Figure 2. Land cover of the Atlantic Maritime ecozone+, 2005


Long Description for Figure 2

This figure shows a stacked bar graph and map depicting the percentage and geographic distribution of the four major land cover types in the Atlantic Maritime Ecozone+: forest, shrubland, agricultural land, and urban land. Forest covers 87% of the ecozone+, shrubland 2%, agricultural land 10%, and urban land 1%. Forest is the dominant land cover over the ecozone+ as a whole and in every region with the exception of Prince Edward Island where agricultural land is the dominant cover.  Small pockets of shrubland are scattered throughout the ecozone+. Urban land is primarily located on coasts and inlets.

Source: Ahern et al., 2011Footnote7 using data from Latifovic and Pouliot, 2005Footnote8

Jurisdictions: The AME includes the provinces of New Brunswick (NB), Nova Scotia (NS), and Prince Edward Island (PEI), and the Gaspé Peninsula, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, and part of the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Major Aboriginal groups in this ecozone+ include the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet (of NB), Malécite (of QC), and Abenaki.

Population: Between 1971 and 2006, the human population increased from approximately 2.27 to 2.55 million (Figure 3), but has been generally stable since 1991. The majority of the population is found in its river valleys and along its low-lying coast.Footnote9 Footnote10 There has been a significant migration of people from rural to urban areas.Footnote11

Based on 2005 remote sensing data, forest is the predominant land cover type representing over 85% of the total area, followed by agricultural land at just over 10% (Figure 2).Footnoteii Footnote7

Figure 3. Human population of the Atlantic Maritime ecozone+, 1971–2006.


Long Description for Figure 3

This bar graph shows the following information: 

Data for figure 3.
YearNumber of people (millions)

Source: Environment Canada, 2009Footnote12

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Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
© / shaunl

Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park
© Parks Canada

Peskawa Lake, Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia
© M. Crowley  

Coastal marsh in Lord Selkirk Provincial Park,
Prince Edward Island  © /  Photawa

Perce Village and Rock, Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec 
© / onepony

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