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Technical Thematic Report No. 14. - Trends in wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in Canada, 1986-2006

Pacific Maritime Ecozone+

Agricultural landscapes

The agricultural landscapeFootnote 24 decreased in size by approximately 12% between 1986 and 2006 to make up just over 1% of the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ (Figure 44). Figure 45 shows total agricultural land area and the amount of land per each cover type in 1986, 1996, and 2006. Unimproved Pasture was the dominant land cover increasing its share of total agricultural land from 32 to 38% over twenty years. The proportion of CroplandFootnote 25 expanded from 27 to 38%, as the share of Tame Hay (18 to 22%) and other crops (10 to 16%) increased. The share of All Other Land declined from 26 to 16% of agricultural land. The majority of agricultural land was found in the Lower Mainland (40%) and Eastern Vancouver Island (26%) ecoregions. In the Lower Mainland, the share of Unimproved Pasture and Improved Pasture was constant at around 20 and 27% of agricultural land, respectively. All Other Land decreased (19 to 10%) while the share of Cropland increased (48 to 57%). On Eastern Vancouver Island, the share of Cropland also increased (19 to 29%) but comprised a far smaller component of agricultural land compared to the Lower Mainland. Within the Eastern Vancouver Island, the share of Unimproved Pasture dropped slightly from 38 to 37%, but remained as the most abundant cover type. Tame Hay expanded from 15 to 25% of agricultural land, while Improved Pasture and All Other Land declined (from 17 to 7% and from 25 to 21%, respectively).

Figure 44. The percentage of agricultural land within the Soil Landscapes of Canada(SLC) polygons of the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+, 2006.

map

Long Description for Figure 44

This map shows the percentage of agricultural land within the SLC polygons of the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ in 2006. The agricultural landscape makes up just over 1% of the ecozone+.

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Figure 45. Total agricultural land area, the amount of land per cover type (chart), and the relative percentage of each cover type (table) for the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ for 1986, 1996, and 2006.

graph

Long Description for Figure 45

This graphic presents a stacked bar graph showing the following information:

Percentage of agricultural land (hectares)
Cover Type198619962006
Oilseeds1121,2141,975
Pulses128640531
Soybeans000
Berries5,0406,5908,643
Improved Pasture34,16839,25318,593
All Other Land69,22271,76936,861
Summerfallow3,3752,8571,113
Unimproved Pasture84,56898,79387,108
Cereals3,1996,3445,788
Corn7,4787,4769,870
Tame Hay47,20152,05950,548
Other Crops2,4443,0333,252
Fruit Trees6031,1111,141
Vegetables6,4615,9275,846
Winter Cereals9711,110927

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Potential wildlife use of agricultural land

A total of 319 species of terrestrial vertebrates (221 birds; 76 mammals; 8 reptiles; 14 amphibians) used agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+. All Other Land was the most important land cover providing both breeding and feeding habitat requirements for 81% (258) of species. Unimproved Pasture provided both breeding and feeding habitat for 21% (66) of species and a single habitat requirement for 36% (114). Croplandfulfilled the entire habitat requirements of only 12% (37) of species while providing either breeding or feeding habitat for 25% (81).

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Wildlife habitat capacity

Although still within the moderate category, average wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ declined significantly between 1986 and 2006 (64.4 ± 19.2 to 52.6 ± 15.4) (ANOVA, F = 14.0, p<0.05) (Figure 46). Figure 47 and Figure 48 show the spatial distribution of habitat capacity values for 1986 and 2006. Over this period, habitat capacity significantly decreased on 68% of agricultural land, increased on 6%, and was constant on 26% (ANOVA: Tukey HSD, p<0.05) (Figure 49). Habitat capacity declined from 56.9 ± 23.9 to 43.2 ± 15.0 in the Lower Mainland and from 59.5 ± 13.3 to 51.9 ± 10.7 on Eastern Vancouver Island.

Figure 46. The share of agricultural land in each habitat capacity category (bars, left axis) and the average habitat capacity for the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ in 1986, 1996, and 2006 (points and line, right axis).

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Long Description for Figure 46

Figure 46. The share of agricultural land in each habitat capacity category (bars, left axis) and the average habitat capacity for the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ in 1986, 1996, and 2006 (points and line, right axis)

This stacked percentage bar graph shows the following  information:

Habitat capacity Categories

  • Very high 90->100
  • High  70-90
  • Moderate 50-70
  • Low 30-50
  • Very low <20-30
Share of agricultural land per habitat capacity category (percentage)
Habitat capacity
Categories
198619962006
<200.000.000.00
20-303.481.7511.02
30-4011.709.5017.04
40-5023.0317.8418.15
50-6014.8022.0431.45
60-709.7728.5319.07
70-8025.6613.272.89
80-906.316.240.00
90-1003.320.840.32
>1001.920.000.06

The average habitat capacity for the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ was 64.45 in 1986, 61.66 in 1996 and 52.62 in 2006.

Years with different letters differed significantly (ANOVA: F = 14.0, Tukey HSD p<0.05).

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Figure 47. Wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+, 1986.

map

Long Description for Figure 47

This map shows the wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ in 1986. Very high to low habitat capacities are shown throughout the ecozone+. The Lower Mainland region shows largely low capacities, however the region north of it shows predominantly very high wildlife habitat capacity.

HC means average Habitat Capacity for the ecoregion. All SLC polygons with >5% agricultural land were included in the analysis.

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Figure 48. Wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+, 2006.

map

Long Description for Figure 48

This map shows the wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ in 2006. Low wildlife habitat capacity dominates the agricultural landscape, with the exception of the Lower Mainland region which shows largely very low capacities. An isolated northern region shows predominantly very high wildlife habitat capacity.

HC means average Habitat Capacity for the ecoregion. All SLC polygons with >5% agricultural land were included in the analysis.

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Figure 49. Change in wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ between 1986 and 2006.

map

Long Description for Figure 49

This map shows change in wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+ between 1986 and 2006. Over this period, habitat capacity significantly decreased on 68% of agricultural land, increased on 6%, and was constant on 26%.

ANOVA, Tukey HSD p<0.05. All SLC polygons with >5% agricultural land were included in the analysis.

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Interpretation

The loss of All Other Land was the primary cause of significant habitat capacity decline on agricultural land in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+. At the ecozone+ level, the share of All Other Land declined by close to 10%, representing a loss of the most valuable natural/ semi-natural habitat, while Cropland expanded. This trend was most evident in the Lower Mainland Ecoregion where a 9% loss reduced All Other Land to under 10% while Cropland gained 9% to comprise just under 60%. Habitat capacity declines on Eastern Vancouver Island were also linked to declines in All Other Land (-4%) and Improved Pasture (-10%), and corresponding increases in the amount of Cropland (10%) to comprise just under 30% of agricultural land. The higher habitat capacity in this ecoregion compared to the Lower Mainland was due to an overall higher All Other Land content (21 compared to 10%) and a smaller share of Cropland (29 compared to 57%). Unlike much of the ecozone+, the agricultural footprint expanded in the Pacific Ranges Ecoregion, primarily through the addition of Unimproved Pasture. In 2006, Unimproved Pasture (59%) accounted for the majority of agricultural land in the ecoregion while Croplandcomprised only 20%. Although declines in the share of All Other Land (38 to 13%) reduced habitat capacity from 73.9 ± 20.6 to 62.1 ± 23.2, it still ranked as highest in the Pacific Maritime. This is because the second most valuable agricultural land cover for wildlife (Unimproved Pasture) comprised close to 60% of total agricultural land.

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Footnotes

Footnote 24

The agricultural landscape (or agricultural land), as discussed throughout this report, includes the "All Other Land” category from the Census of Agriculture, which is made up of areas such as wetlands, riparian zones, shelterbelts, woodlands, idle land/old fields, and anthropogenic areas (farm buildings, green houses, and lanes).

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Footnote 25

Cropland includes all agricultural land except for All Other Land, Unimproved Pasture, Improved Pasture, and Summerfallow.

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