Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services summary graphic

Graphic thumbnail: ecosystem services summary graphic

This graphic contains examples of changes presented in this report that affect ecosystem services. These changes are presented using the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment framework that categorizes ecosystem services as: supporting, regulating, provisioning, and cultural. Changes that affect supporting services are presented beneath the other three categories with arrows indicating that these changes will also affect the other ecosystem services. 

The categories and examples are listed below as they appear in the graphic:


  • fundamental changes in marine food webs
  • greater primary productivity on land
  • declining extent and condition of some forests, grasslands, and wetlands, affecting soils and nutrients
  • melting ice and warming and thawing permafrost
  • changes in nutrient loads
  • changing climate


  • increasing temperature and changing precipitation patterns
  • changes in wetlands
  • melting ice and warming permafrost
  • changes in river flows
  • increasing coastal erosion
  • increasing spread of wildlife diseases and parasites


  • declining extent and abundance of most caribou populations
  • declining abundance in certain commercial fisheries
  • stable extent of forests
  • declining legacy contaminants in wildlife, including harvest species, but increasing emerging contaminants


  • changing availability and quality of traditional/country foods that can affect cultural traditions
  • increasing stewardship initiatives on private lands
  • increasing terrestrial protected areas
  • little progress in marine protected areas
  • decline in birds
  • increasing frequency of algal blooms in many lakes

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Marine survival and exploitation of coho in the Georgia Strait, B.C.

Graphic thumbnail: marine survival and exploitation of coho in the Georgia Strait, B.C.

This line graph shows the percent survival of wild and hatchery coho and the percent of adults caught (referred to as exploitation) in Georgia Strait from 1986 to 2006. Over this period, the survival of wild and hatchery coho in Georgia Strait followed the same general trend, though hatchery survival was lower. In 1988 wild and hatchery coho survival reached peaks of approximately 18% and 12% respectively. Hatchery coho survival then declined to a level of less than 1% in 1998. Wild coho survival also declined to a low of approximately 3% in 1999. Survival of both hatchery and wild coho then increased until 2001, reaching lower peaks of 7% and 4% respectively. After 2001, both survival rates declined again, to approximately 2% (wild coho survival) and less than 1% (hatchery coho survival) in 2006. Exploitation remained close to 80% from 1986 to 1994, after which it declined steeply to approximately 10% in 1998. From 1998 to 2006, the exploitation rate fluctuated between 10% and 20%. In 2006, exploitation was at approximately 10%.

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Fortymile caribou herd

Graphic thumbnail: Fortymile caribou herd

This map shows the historical range (early 1900s) and the current range (2005) of the Fortymile caribou herd. The historical range was on both sides of the Yukon/Alaska border. In the Yukon, the majority of the historical range was within the Boreal Cordillera Ecozone+, including Dawson and extending south to just north of Whitehorse, with a smaller portion extending into the Taiga Cordillera Ecozone+. In Alaska, the historical range extended northwest, encompassing the city of Fairbanks. The current range is much smaller, only extending a short distance into the Boreal Cordillera Ecozone+ and no longer encompassing Dawson. Most of the current range is within Alaska, though it no longer approaches Fairbanks.

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Sea ice freeze-up, Igloolik, Nunavut

Graphic thumbnail: sea ice freeze-up, Igloolik, Nunavut

This graph shows the annual date of sea ice freeze-up in Igloolik, Nunavut from 1969 to 2005. The date of freeze-up fluctuated from year to year by up to 30 days. A trend line shows an overall advancing sea ice freeze-up of 0.7 days later per year, a total of about 25 days later over the period of the study. In 1969 the freeze-up date was approximately September 30th and in 2005 it was November 5th. An inset map shows the location of Igloolik in the Arctic Ecozone+.

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Spring goose harvest at Blackstone Bay, Wemindji, Quebec

Graphic thumbnail: spring goose harvest at Blackstone Bay, Wemindji, Quebec

These two maps show spring goose harvest sites around Blackstone Bay, Wemindji, Quebec in 1979 and 2006. In 1979, 13 spring goose harvesting sites surrounded the base camp, while in 2006 only 4 harvesting sites surrounded the base camp, showing a decline in the number of suitable or accessible harvest sites. An inset map of Canada shows the location of Blackstone Bay, Wemindji, Quebec in the Taiga Shield Ecozone+.

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Valuation of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou herds

Graphic thumbnail: valuation of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou herds

This map of Canada shows the location of the ranges of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds. The range of the Qamanirjuaq herd extends west from the western side of Hudson Bay including the southern portion of the Arctic Ecozone+, the Taiga Shield Ecozone+, and the very northern part of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. The range of the Beverly herd overlaps the western boundary of the Quamanirjuaq herd, and extends further west to the boundary of the Taiga Plains Ecozone+.

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Ecosystem services of Ontario’s greenbelt

Graphic thumbnail: ecosystem services of Ontario’s greenbelt

This map of the Golden Horseshoe region of southern Ontario shows the extent of the greenbelt. The greenbelt borders the perimeter of Toronto, reaching from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe and around Guelph to Niagara Falls. A thin strip of the green belt extends up past Owen Sound to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.

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