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Hudson Plains Ecozone+ Evidence for key findings summary

Conclusion: Human Well-being and Biodiversity

The Hudson Plains Ecozone+ remains a relatively pristine natural area, with generally clean air and water, healthy wildlife populations, and a number of unregulated large rivers. With its comparatively intact wildlife populations, relatively few introduced (potentially invasive) species, and habitat that provides an important refuge for a number of species of national conservation concern, the ecozone+ represents a significant store of Canada’s native biodiversity. The land and its resources are also vital to the traditional lifestyles and financial well-being of the largely Aboriginal and mostly coastal communities in the region. Some significant protected areas have been established to protect the ecozone+ ’s flora and fauna. Recreational opportunities and economic benefits come from fishing and hunting and a currently limited amount of tourism, principally at Churchill and Moosonee-Moose Factory.

The high probability of continuing resource development, while likely to bring additional jobs to the wage economy, is a concern for the ecozone+ ’s biodiversity. However, ample opportunity still exists in this ecozone+ to conduct land use and conservation planning in advance of major development, including the careful planning of roads and other infrastructure from which more human access, use, and development inevitably follows.

Modelling projects that warming associated with climate change will be amplified in the Hudson Bay region relative to other regions in Canada and it will irreversibly change the ecosystems around it. A changing climate is already threatening some of the more vulnerable sea-ice associated species. Rapid warming may also have potentially serious implications for carbon storage in the ecozone+ ’s vast peatlands. Loss of this important store of carbon could significantly affect the Earth’s climate system and biodiversity. Local Aboriginal communities will be forced to adapt to the changed climate and altered ecosystem because their culture and traditional and wage-based economies have been shaped by the local environment and are still tied very closely to the land, and because they mostly live near the coast where increased storm surges (inundation) and wave action are anticipated as waters in Hudson and James bays become increasingly open (ice-free).