Natural Regions:

TOTAL AREA:
381,047 km2

TOTAL Human Footprint:
69,884 km2

Region Overview

The Boreal Forest Natural Region is a huge northern ecosystem covering 381,000 km2 or 58% of the province. The boreal consists of a mosaic of upland forests interspersed with lowland forests and an abundance of low-lying wetlands, bogs, and fens. Lodgepole Pine, Jack Pine, White Spruce, and Aspen occupy the upland; Black Spruce and Larch, the lowlands. One common type of wetland, known as peatlands, provides a unique set of ecological conditions (limited oxygen, low nutrient availability, acidic soil), which supports a distinctive set of flora; species like the Northern Green Bog Orchid and the Round-leaved Sundew thrive in these habitats. The boreal forest is considered the “bird nursery” of North America as the mosaic of forest and wetland habitat serves as the breeding grounds for millions of birds each year. In fact, many birds, such as the Palm Warbler and Bay-breasted Warbler, are almost entirely reliant on the boreal forest during their breeding seasons. Human footprint status and trend is summarized for the Boreal Forest Natural Region.

Status

As of 2016, human footprint occupied 18.34% of the Boreal Forest Natural Region. Agriculture was the dominant human footprint, covering 11.27%, followed by forestry footprint (3.50%), and energy (1.97%). The remaining footprint types each covered < 1% of the region.

Human Footprint Type Area (km2) Area (%)
Total Human Footprint 69,884 18.3
Agriculture 42,944 11.3
Energy 7,507 2.0
Forestry 13,337 3.5
Human-created Water Bodies 381 0.1
Transportation 3,163 0.8
Urban/Industrial 2,591 0.7

FIGURE: Summary of percentage cover of total human footprint broken down by human footprint category in the Boreal Forest Natural Region, circa 2016.

Total Human Footprint 18.3%

Agriculture 11.3%

Energy 2.0%

Forestry 3.5%

Human-created Water Bodies 0.1%

Transportation 0.8%

Urban/Industrial 0.7%

Trend

Between 1999 and 2016, the total area of human footprint in the Boreal Forest Natural Region increased by 3.30%, from 15.04% to 18.34%. More than half of the increase in human footprint was driven by the expansion of forestry footprint, which increased by 1.91% (from 1.59% to 3.50%). Both agriculture and energy footprint increased by just over 0.5% during this time frame.

Human Footprint Type 1999 (km2) 2016 (km2) Change (km2)
Total Human Footprint 57,309 69,884 + 12,575
Agriculture 40,886 42,944 + 2,058
Energy 5,487 7,507 + 2,020
Forestry 6,059 13,337 + 7,278
Human-created Water Bodies 267 381 + 114
Transportation 2,744 3,163 + 419
Urban/Industrial 1,639 2,591 + 953
Human Footprint Type 1999 (%) 2016 (%) Change (%)
Total Human Footprint 15.0 18.3 + 3.3
Agriculture 10.7 11.3 + 0.5
Energy 1.4 2.0 + 0.5
Forestry 1.6 3.5 + 1.9
Human-created Water Bodies 0.1 0.1 + 0.0
Transportation 0.7 0.8 + 0.1
Urban/Industrial 0.4 0.7 + 0.3

FIGURE: Trend in the percentage area of total human footprint, and by human footprint category in the Boreal Forest Natural Region between 1999 and 2016. Click on the entries in the legend to turn human footprint categories on and off.