Protected Areas, by Ecological Region

Ecozones and bioregions are areas with characteristic ecological features, such as climate and vegetation. The highest percentage of protected areas is found in the Pacific Maritime Ecozone+Footnote [1] (19%), while five bioregions have less than 1% of their area protected.

Terrestrial ecozones with a high proportion of protected area 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 Rocky Mountains 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 0.02% to 5.3%. Approximately 12% of the area of the Great Lakes that is within Canada is protected.

Percentage of ecological regions protected, Canada, 2012

Percentage of ecological regions protected, Canada, 2012

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Only areas recognized as protected under international standards are included. Terrestrial ecozones+ and the protected areas therein, include both land and freshwater.
Source:  For Canada except Quebec: Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA) (2013) Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS). For Quebec: Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (2013) Base de données du Registre des aires protégées au Québec. Data are current as of 31 December, 2012. The Ecozone+ framework is from Federal, provincial and territorial governments of Canada (2010) Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010. Marine bioregions are from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Each ecozone and bioregion 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 areas that are already developed for other uses, such as where cities, agriculture, fishing or industry are present. 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.

Related indicators


Footnote 1

This section uses a provisional adaptation ("Ecozones+") of the National Ecological Framework of Canada as a spatial framework. Marine bioregions are similar to ocean ecozones, but are broader in scale and consider additional factors.

Return to footnote 1 referrer