Protected Areas, by Ecological Region

Ecozones are regions with characteristic ecological features, such as climate and vegetation. The highest percentage of protected areas is found in the Tundra Cordillera Ecozone (38%), while five ecozones have less than 1% of their area protected.

Terrestrial ecozones with a high proportion of their area protected tend to be remote or prized for recreation. This is in contrast to regions with high levels of urbanization and development. For example, ecozones in the western mountain ranges have 15% or more of their area protected, but the Mixedwood Plain in southern Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River has only 1.6% of its area protected. Marine areas have not benefited from as strong a tradition of protection, and smaller proportions are protected, ranging from less than 0.5% to 7.2%. Approximately 12% of the area of the Great Lakes that is within Canada is protected.

Percentage of ecological regions protected, Canada, 2013

Percentage of ecological regions protected, Canada, 2013

Long Description

The map shows the percentage of each ecological region and marine area that is protected. The Pacific Maritime, the Arctic Cordillera and the Tundra Cordillera ecological regions have the largest proportion of protected area. The Arctic Basin, the Arctic Archipelago, the Hudson Bay Complex, the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves, and the Scotian Shelf marine bioregions have less than 0.1% of their total area protected.

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Terrestrial areas include both land and freshwater.
Source: For Canada, except Quebec: Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA) (2014) Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS). For Quebec: Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (2014) Registre des aires protégées au Québec. Data are current as of 31 December, 2013.

Each ecozone is unique and varied, meaning that protection needs to be carefully planned to include areas representative of different parts of the ecozone and to capture sites of special value. It is much more challenging to establish protected areas in places that are already used for other purposes, such as agriculture, fishing, industry or living space. For terrestrial areas, this is in part because there is less ecologically intact land remaining, and the existing land has often been fragmented into many small parcels.

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