Natural Disturbances

Area burned by large fires (greater than 2 square kilometres)

Graphic thumbnail: area burned by large fires (greater than 2 square kilometres)

This graphic includes a bar graph and a map. The bar graph shows the total area burned by fires larger than 2 square kilometers in Canada each decade from the 1960s to the 2000s. The area burned increased from 87,000 square kilometres in the 1960s, to 138,000 square kilometres in the 1970s, to approximately 268,000 square kilometres in both the 1980s and 1990s. In the 2000s, the area burned decreased to 163,000 square kilometres.

The map shows the distribution of these fires across Canada with a different colour for each of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. It shows that the Taiga Plains, the western half of the Taiga and Boreal Shields, and the northeastern part of the Boreal Plains are the most affected by fire. The Boreal Cordillera, Montane Cordillera, Western Interior Basin, Hudson Plains, and remaining parts of the Taiga Plains, Taiga Shield, and Boreal Shield also have smaller areas of fire scattered across their landscape. The unaffected or less affected ecozones+ are the Prairies, Mixedwood Plains, Atlantic Maritime, Newfoundland Boreal, Pacific Maritime, and Arctic. The pattern of distribution is consistent between decades.

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Change in risk of wildfire

Graphic thumbnail: change in risk of wildfire

This map of Canada shows the change in the risk of wildfire between 1901 and 2001. Data are shown using a colour gradient that ranges from increasing to decreasing July Drought Code as a measure of wildlife risk. The map shows a decreasing risk south of Hudson Bay, in the eastern Maritimes, and in western Canada. Increases are shown for parts of the Taiga Shield, Arctic, and northern Taiga Plains.

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Spruce budworm

Graphic thumbnail: spruce budworm

This map of Canada shows the ranges of four species of spruce budworm. The eastern spruce budworm has the largest distribution, covering boreal and mixedwood forests in the Newfoundland Boreal, Atlantic Maritime, and Mixedwood Plains in their entirety, the majority of the Boreal Shield and Boreal Plains, and parts of the Taiga Plains, Taiga Shield, Taiga Cordillera, and Boreal Cordillera ecozones+. The two-year cycle spruce budworm is found large parts of the Montane Cordillera and Boreal Cordillera and parts of the northern Pacific Maritime. The western spruce budworm covers all of the Western Interior Basin as well as southeastern Montane Cordillera and southern Pacific Maritime. The coastal spruce budworm is found in the northern Pacific Maritime, western Montane Cordillera, and southern Boreal Cordillera. It overlaps with the eastern budworm and two-year cycle spruce budworm.

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Area defoliated by eastern spruce budworm east of the Manitoba border and in Maine, U.S.

Graphic thumbnail: area defoliated by eastern spruce budworm east of the Manitoba border and in Maine, U.S.

This line graph shows the amount of severe to moderate defoliation by the eastern spruce budworm east of the Manitoba border and in Maine, U.S. from 1909 to 2007. The graph includes data from two different sources, as noted in the text beneath the graph. Each data source is shown in a different colour. The graph shows three cycles of defoliation: 1910 to 1920; 1940 to 1960; and 1970 to 1990. The area defoliated increased in each cycle from approximately 100,000 square kilometres in the 1910s, to approximately 250,000 square kilometres in the late 1940s, to over 500,000 square kilometres in the mid 1970s. The 1970 to 1990 peak was sharper with a more consistent annual decline than the first two peaks which maintained the same level of defoliation for a few years and then dropped off rapidly. Between all cycles, defoliation was close to zero.

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Mountain pine beetle cumulative area affected

Graphic thumbnail: mountain pine beetle cumulative area affected

This graphic contains two maps which show the spread of mountain pine beetle. The first map is for 1999 and shows the outbreak concentrated in central British Columbia with smaller affected areas scattered in southcentral and southwestern British Columbia. The second map, showing the cumulative area affected in 2009, illustrates the greatly expanded area that includes most of the lower three-quarters of British Columbia with the exception of the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+, and extending into northern Alberta in a concentration around the western part of the Boreal Plains.

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Area affected annually by mountain pine beetle in B.C.

Graphic thumbnail: area affected annually by mountain pine beetle in B.C.

This bar graph shows the area affected by mountain pine beetle annually in British Columbia from 1928 to 2009. Prior to 1996, several periods of pine beetle attack occurred (1928, 1936, 1941, 1946 to 1948, 1953, 1968, and 1975 to 1997) but all affected an area much smaller than 5,000 square kilometres, except for 1936 which affected less than 10,000 square kilometres. The attack starting in 1999 increased rapidly annually to a peak of over 100,000 square kilometres affected in 2007. Area affected decreased in 2008 and 2009 with approximately 90,000 square kilometres affected in 2009. From 1998 to 2009, the bars are colour-coded to show how much defoliation was light, moderate, and severe. This detail is not shown for years prior to 1998 as the data did not distinguish among levels of severity. The proportion of light to moderate to severe remained relatively consistent, although the amount of moderately and severely affected area declined slightly in 2008 and 2009.

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