Taiga Plains Ecozone+ Evidence for Key Findings Summary
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- Ecozone+ Basics
- Key Findings at a Glance: National and Ecozone+ Level
- Theme: Biomes
- Theme: Human/Ecosystem Interactions
- Theme: Habitat, Wildlife, and Ecosystem Processes
- Theme: Science/Policy Interface
- Conclusion: Human Well-Being and Biodiversity
The Taiga Plains ecozone+ is the large extent of boreal forest sweeping from the Arctic coast south along the Mackenzie River. The ecozone+ with its extensive peatlands, wetlands and intact blocks of forest provides important habitat for wildlife, especially waterfowl, endangered whooping cranes, the threatened wood bison, and caribou, including the threatened boreal caribou. The footprint from human development is greatest in the south (especially northeastern BC), along parts of the Mackenzie Valley, and around Inuvik. Oil and gas projects and pipelines, existing and potential, are the focus of industry and economic development, though hunting, fishing, trapping, and berry gathering remain very important to residents. Climate change is apparent in the ecozone+, with an average increase of 2°C year-round and over 5°C in winter since 1950 and corresponding changes in growing season, permafrost, and river ice.
|Area||604,628 km2 (6.2% of Canada)|
|Topography||Extended plains and a few isolated, low-elevation plateaus.|
Landscape modified by rivers that have cut deep gorges and created meandering channels and ox-bow lakes.
|Climate||Strong north-south gradient, with Growing Degree Days about double in the south compared to the northReference 16. |
Precipitation relatively low as are both summer rainfall and evapotranspiration rates. Snow pack accumulates mostly in the fall, with typically light snow from December to MarchReference 16.
|River basins||Drainage to the Arctic Ocean through the Mackenzie River Basin, including through Great Slave and Great Bear lakes.|
|Geology||Underlain by sedimentary rocks with horizontal layers of sandstones, shales, conglomerates, and limestoneReference 17|
Retreating ice sheets from the last ice age deposited till over most of the ecozone+ (Figure 2).
|Land Cover||68% forest; 20% shrub cover (Figure 3)|
North: vegetation open with stunted stands of white spruce
Further south: more closed canopy forests – species include black and white spruce, jack pine, Alaska paper birch, aspen, and balsam poplarReference 13
|Permafrost||North: continuous permafrost over shallow active layer|
Central: extensive discontinuous permafrost
South: sporadic permafrost
|Settlement||Population increased 36% from 1971 to 2006 (Figure 4).|
9 communities with populations over 600 (Table 2); 7 smaller communities in NWT and additional small population centres in Indian reserves in BC.
|Economy||Historical and current economy centred on: 1) wildlife and fish abundance, 2) oil and gas reserves, 3) transportation (including pipelines).|
|Development||Roads are in the north and south portions of the ecozone+ (Figure 1).|
Additional minor roads and linear features are mainly related to access to oil and gas or, in the southern part of the ecozone+, forestry.
Industrial development is primarily oil and gas exploration and development, focused on the Mackenzie Delta and parts of the Mackenzie Valley. Major pipelines and associated infrastructure extending the length of the ecozone+ along the Mackenzie Valley are proposed and were approved in 2010 to proceed to the permit application stageReference 18.
|National/global significance||Lower portion of Mackenzie River, longest river in Canada, draining 20% of the nationReference 19.|
Ramsar sites (wetlands of international significance): Hay-Zama Lakes and Whooping Crane breeding wetlandsReference 20.
World Heritage Site: Wood Buffalo National ParkReference 21
Jurisdictions: Mainly within the Northwest Territories; extends into northeast BC and northwest Alberta and includes a very small section of southeastern Yukon (Figure 1). Four settled land claims with jurisdiction in the ecozone+: Inuvialuit, Gwich’in, Sahtu, and Tlicho, plus the Deh Cho Interim Measures Agreement.
Source: population data for the ecozone+ compiled from Statistics Canada 2000Reference 23 and census reports for Wrigley, Fort Resolution, Fort Smith and Inuvik.
Long description for Figure 4
This bar graph depicts the following information:
|Year||Number of people|
|Fort Nelson BC||4,514|
|Hay River NT||3,648|
|Fort Smith NT||2,364|
|Fort Simpson NT||1,216|
|Hay Lake 209 Indian Reserve AB||951|
|Fort McPherson NT||776|
|Norman Wells NT||761|
|Fort Providence NT||727|
Source: Statistics Canada, 2009Reference 24
- Date Modified: