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Boreal Shield and Newfoundland Boreal ecozones+ evidence for key findings summary

Ecozone+ Basics


Boreal Shield Ecozone+

The Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (Figure 1, Table 1) is Canada's largest Ecozone+, representing 18.2% of the country's land surface.Footnote10 It contains one of the world's largest remaining intact forest ecosystems and is rich in forests, freshwater, and wildlife. Development is concentrated in the southern portion; the northern portion remains relatively undeveloped.Footnote11 Humans have modified this Ecozone+ directly through natural resource development, including mining, forestry, and hydroelectric power generation, and indirectly through acid deposition, mercury contamination, and climate change.

The Boreal Shield Ecozone+ spans five provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec as well as parts of Labrador. Given the large expanse of this Ecozone+, ecosystem function, composition, structure, disturbances, and processes vary regionally. When possible, this report used the most detailed data available that were specific to and covered the whole Ecozone+ with results broken down by province. For example, Bird Conservation Region (BCR) 8 and the northern half of BCR 12 fall within the Ecozone+'s boundaries. For other key findings, data were available only for a portion of the Ecozone+ or data from different provinces were not comparable or compatible across the Ecozone+. Also, for some topics, data were only available for whole provinces and, thus, reported data exceed the boundaries of the Ecozone+. With the exception of specific discussions of Lake Athabasca in Alberta, the Alberta and Labrador portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ were generally excluded due to their small contributions.

Table 1. Boreal Shield Ecozone+ overview.
Area1,781,391 km2 (18.2% of Canada)
TopographyLow and rolling, interspersed with lakes and wetlands.
ClimateAnnual precipitation ranges from 400 mm in the west to 1600 mm on the eastern coast.Footnote12
Average summer (June to August) temperatures were highest in the south (17.6°C) and average winter (December to February) temperatures were lowest in the northwest (-24.2°C).Footnote13
River basinsSoutheastern streams are tributaries of the St. Lawrence; streams draining north feed into Hudson Bay.
Watersheds in the west are part of the Nelson River and Great Slave Lake drainage basins.Footnote14
Watersheds account for nearly 25% of Canada's freshwater.Footnote15
GeologyShaped by the glacier retreat, over 60% of surficial materials are glacial till.Footnote15
In the northcentral region, fine materials form what is known as the 'clay belt'.Footnote15
PermafrostPermafrost has a sporadic distribution over the northeastern and western ecozone and is largely confined to organic terrain.Footnote16
SettlementThunder Bay, Sudbury, and Saguenay are the largest settlements.Footnote17
EconomyResource industries (forestry, mining, and hydroelectricity) are major employers.
Cultivated areas are small and contribute little to the economy of the Ecozone+.Footnote18
DevelopmentIn addition to small cities, logging roads and hydroelectric projects account for most of the development.Footnote11
Urban settlements are encroaching northwards from the Mixedwood Plains Ecozone+.Footnote17
National/global SignificanceImportant Bird Areas (IBAs) of global, continental, and national importance are located along the north shore of the St. Lawrence Gulf and Estuary.Footnote19
The Georgian Bay Littoral and Manicouagan–Uapishka sites are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.Footnote20
The forests in this Ecozone+ are some of the largest intact forest ecosystems in the world; they sequester a substantial amount of carbon dioxide.
The Ecozone+ contains a large portion of critical habitat for the Threatened boreal population of forest-dwelling woodland caribou.
Along with the Taiga Shield Ecozone+, the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ provides breeding habitat for more than half of the world's populations of 40 common bird species.

Jurisdictions: The Boreal Shield Ecozone+ includes portions of Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The First Nations of the Ecozone+ include the Dene (Athapascan), Anishnaabe (Ojibwa, Ojibwe), Cree, Algonquin, Attikamek, Huron–Wendat, and Innu (Montagnais).Footnote21

The Boreal Shield, consisting of 97% forest and shrubland (Figure 2), is largely undeveloped with a small but steadily growing human population (Figure 3). Population growth is concentrated in the suburban areas on the southern border adjacent to the Mixedwood Plains Ecozone+.Footnote17 However, some of the fastest population declines in Canada are also occurring in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ with populations in many mid-sized urban areas declining between 2001 and 2006.Footnote17 Footnote22

Figure 2. Land cover of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 2005.

map
Source: Ahern, 2011Footnote23 using data from Latifovic and Pouliot, 2005Footnote24

Long Description for Figure 2

This map shows the land cover of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in 2005. 88% of the ecozone+ is Forested, 9% is Shrubland, 2% is Tundra and Barren and 1% is Cultivated.

 

Figure 3. Human population of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1971 to 2006.

graph
Source: Statistics Canada, 2008Footnote25

Long Description for Figure 3

This bar graph shows the following information:

Human population of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1971 to 2006.
YearNumber of people
19712,048,961
19762,152,369
19812,194,981
19862,185,634
19912,285,393
19962,373,159
20012,336,742
20062,407,307

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Images of typical ecosystems found in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+Footnote26
Typical ecosystems found in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+  Typical ecosystems found in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ Typical ecosystems found in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+
Photos: Francine Bérubé, Canadian Forest Service's Forests of Canada Collection

Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+

The Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ (Figure 1 ; Table 2) consists of the greater island of Newfoundland and smaller islands off its coast. At 112,134 km2, Newfoundland is the 16th largest island in the world. The island has endemic species, subspecies, as well as species with unusual life history traits. The ecozone+ is dominated by shrubland (51.4%) and forest (44%) (Figure 4). Newfoundland was first inhabited by many groups of native peoples, including the Maritime Archaic Indians (9000–2400 years before present (BP)), Paleo-Eskimo and Dorset peoples (3850–1300 BP), and the Beothuk, Micmac, Naskapi-Montagnais, and Inuit (1200–200 BP).Footnote27 The island was first visited by Norsemen from Greenland as early as AD 1001 at L'Anse aux Meadows.Footnote28 European settlers and their descendants introduced a number of species not native to Newfoundland. Human settlements are located predominantly along the coast and the people and culture of Newfoundland are intimately connected with the sea.Footnote29 Populations rose from the 1970s to the 1980s but declined in the 2000s (Figure 5).

Table 2. Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ overview.
Area112,134 km2 (1.1% of Canada)
TopographyTilted plateau located at the northeastern-most limit of the Appalachian mountain chain.Footnote30 Footnote31
Characterized by deep valleys alternating with long, high ridges, and a coastline that has numerous bays, fjords, peninsulas, islands, and harbours.Footnote32
Lakes, ponds, rivers, and peatlands are ubiquitous and extensive, with approximately 10% of the Ecozone+ covered by water.Footnote32
ClimateClimate is driven by the cold Labrador Current, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the island's cold ocean location.Footnote33
High average cloudiness, abundant fog and precipitation, and frequent high winds
Summers are short and cool; winters are relatively mild.
Average annual temperatures are cool for this latitude and precipitation levels vary across the Ecozone+ with changes in latitude and topography.
River basinsMajor rivers include the Exploits, Gander, Humber, and Main.Footnote34
GeologyMost of the Ecozone+ was glaciated 7000–1000 BPFootnote35 Footnote36; therefore, most of the island is covered by glacial deposits.Footnote32
Major rock types include sedimentary, intrusive and volcanic igneous, and metamorphic.Footnote30
SettlementMajor urban centres include St. John's and Mount Pearl on the east coast, Gander and Grand Falls–Windsor in central Newfoundland, Corner Brook on the west coast, and St. Anthony on the Great Northern Peninsula.
EconomyService and resource industries (forestry, mining, oil and gas, and fishing) are major employers.
DevelopmentDevelopment is primarily in coastal areas with a few settlements in the interior.
National/global significanceThe Main and Bay du Nord are Canadian Heritage Rivers.
There are 25 Important Bird Areas.
There are approximately 20,000 km2 of heath, comprising the largest tract of this type of vegetation in North America.
Figure 4. Land cover in 2005 for the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.

map
Source: Ahern, 2011Footnote23 using data from Latifovic and Pouliot, 2005Footnote24

Long Description for Figure 4

This map shows the land cover in 2005 for the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. 51% is Shrubland, 43% is Forest and the rest are small amounts of Vegetation and Barren, Agricultural, Urban and Fire Scars.

Figure 5. Human population of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ from 1971 to 2006.

graph
Source: Statistics Canada, 2008Footnote25

Long Description for Figure 5

This bar graph shows the following information:

Human population of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ from 1971 to 2006.
YearNumber of people
1971493,938
1976524,673
1981536,363
1986539,608
1991538,099
1996522,602
2001485,066
2006479,105

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Wetland in Carmanville, NL
Wetland in Carmanville, NL
Photo: Shelley Pardy Moores

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Sandy coastline
Sandy coastline
Photo: Shelley Pardy Moores

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Footnotes

Footnote 10

CCEA. 2009. Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS), v.2009.05 [online]. Canadian Council on Ecological Areas. (accessed 5 November, 2009).

Return to footnote 10

Footnote 11

Lee, P., Gysbers, J.D. and Stanojevic, Z. 2006. Canadaʹs forest landscape fragments: a first approximation (a Global Forest Watch Canada report). Global Forest Watch Canada. Edmonton, AB. 97 p.156

Return to footnote 11

Footnote 12

Urquizo, N., Bastedo, J., Brydges, T. and Shear, H. 2000. Ecological assessment of the Boreal Shield Ecozone. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Ottawa, ON.

Return to footnote 12

Footnote 13

Environment Canada. 1994. Canadian Monthly Climate Data and 1961-1990 Normals on CD-ROM. Environment Canada, Atmospheric Environment Service.

Return to footnote 13

Footnote 14

Monk, W.A. and Baird, D.J. 2014. Biodiversity in Canadian lakes and rivers. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 19. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. Draft report.

Return to footnote 14

Footnote 15

Geological Survey of Canada. 1994. Surficial materials of Canada, map 1880A [online]. Natural Resources Canada. (accessed 23 October, 2009).

Return to footnote 15

Footnote 16

Smith, S. 2011. Trends in permafrost conditions and ecology in Northern Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 9. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iii + 22 p.

Return to footnote 16

Footnote 17

Martel, L. and Caron-Malenfant, E. 2009. 2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006: Findings [online]. Statistics Canada. (accessed 25 February, 2009).

Return to footnote 17

Footnote 18

Javorek, S.K. and Grant, M.C. 2011. Trends in wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in Canada, 1986-2006. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 14. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. vi + 46 p.

Return to footnote 18

Footnote 19

Important Bird Areas of Canada. 2004. Canadian Important Bird Area Sites [online]. Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada, Bird Life International. (accessed 17 November, 2009).

Return to footnote 19

Footnote 20

Man and Biosphere Program. 2005. Focal Point for Biosphere Reserves [online]. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (accessed 17 November, 2009).

Return to footnote 20

Footnote 21

Berkes, F. and Davidson-Hunt, I.J. 2006. Biodiversity, traditional management systems, and cultural landscapes: Examples from the boreal forest of Canada. International Social Science Journal 58:35-47.

Return to footnote 21

Footnote 22

Karst, A. 2010. Conservation Value of the North American Boreal Forest from an Ethnobotanical persective. Canadian Boreal Initiative; David Suzuki Foundation; Boreal Songbird Initiative. Ottawa, ON;Vancouver, BC; Seattle, WA.

Return to footnote 22

Footnote 23

Ahern, F., Frisk, J., Latifovic, R. and Pouliot, D. 2011. Monitoring ecosystems remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 17. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON.

Return to footnote 23

Footnote 24

Latifovic, R. and Pouliot, D. 2005. Multitemporal land cover mapping for Canada: methodology and products. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 31:347-363.

Return to footnote 24

Footnote 25

Statistics Canada. 2008. Human activity and the environment: annual statistics 2007 and 2008. Human Activity and the Environment, Catalogue No. 16-201-X. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. 159 p.

Return to footnote 25

Footnote 26

Bérubé, F. 2003. Canadian Forest Serviceʹs Forests of Canada Collection. Natural Resources of Canada, Canadian Forest Services.

Return to footnote 26

Footnote 27

Tuck, J.A. 1976. Newfoundland and Labrador prehistory. Canadian Prehistory Series, Archaeological Survey of Canada. Museum of Man. Ottawa, ON.

Return to footnote 27

Footnote 28

Government of Canada. 1950. Newfoundland: An introduction to Canadaʹs New Province. Ministry of Trade of Commerce, Department of External Affairs. Ottawa, ON. 142 p.

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Footnote 29

Paone, L.C. 2003. Hazard sensitivitiy in Newfoundland coastal commnunitiesimpacts and adaptations to climate change: a case study of Conception Bay South and Holyrood, Newfoundland. Thesis (M.Sc.). Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Geography. St. Johnʹs, NL. 206 p.

Return to footnote 29

Footnote 30

Rogerson, R.J. 1983. Geological Evolution. In Biogeography and ecology of the island of Newfoundland. Edited by South, G.R. Junk Publishers. The Hague. pp. 5-35.

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Footnote 31

Ullah, W., Beersing, A., Blouin, A., Wood, C.H. and Rodgers, A. 1992. Water resources atlas of Newfoundland. Water Resources Division, Department of Environment and Lands, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. St. Johnʹs, NL.

Return to footnote 31

Footnote 32

Hudak, J. and Raske, A.G. 1982. Review of the spruce budworm outbreaks in Newfoundland: its control and forest management implications. Environment Canada. 320 p.

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Footnote 33

Banfield, C.E. 1983. Climate. In Biogeography and ecology of the island of Newfoundland. Edited by South, G.R. Junk Publishers. The Hague. pp. 37-106.

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Footnote 34

Burridge, M. and Mandrak, N. 2009. Ecoregion description: 115: Canadian Atlantic Islands [online]. In Freshwater ecoregions of the world. The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. (accessed 21 February, 2009).

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Footnote 35

Ives, J.D. 1978. The maximum extent of the Laurentide Ice Sheet along the east coast of North America during the last glaciation. Arctic 31:1-15.

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Footnote 36

Dehler, S. and McCutcheon, S. 2007. Atlantic Canada ice dynamics. Geoscience Canada 34:1-48.

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