Canada's conserved areas

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Conserved areas safeguard biodiversity for present and future generations by reducing stresses from human activities. They also provide opportunities for people to connect with nature. Conserved areas include protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.Footnote 1  Protected areas include national/provincial/territorial parks, Indigenous protected areas, national wildlife areas, migratory bird sanctuaries and marine protected areas. Other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) are areas that do not meet the formal definition of protected area but are managed in a way that conserves biodiversity over the long term. Examples of OECMs can include: Indigenous territories, watersheds or resource management areas, and areas with restricted access, such as those used by the military. The indicators track the amount and proportion of area conserved in Canada.

National

National conserved areas

Key results

  • At the end of 2020, Canada had conserved
    • 12.5% of its terrestrial area (land and freshwater), including 11.7% in protected areas
    • 13.8% of its marine territory, including 8.9% in protected areas

Proportion of area conserved, Canada, 1990 to 2020

Proportion of area conserved, Canada, 1990 to 2020 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Proportion of area conserved, Canada, 1990 to 2020
Year Terrestrial area protected
(square kilometres)
Percentage of terrestrial area protected Terrestrial area conserved
(square kilometres)
Percentage of terrestrial area conserved Marine area protected
(square kilometres)
Percentage of marine area protected Marine area conserved
(square kilometres)
Percentage of marine area conserved
1990 547 142 5.5 575 426 5.8 18 473 0.32 20 267 0.35
1991 547 648 5.5 575 932 5.8 18 492 0.32 20 286 0.35
1992 563 069 5.6 591 353 5.9 18 916 0.33 20 711 0.36
1993 577 728 5.8 606 011 6.1 19 162 0.33 20 956 0.36
1994 581 252 5.8 609 536 6.1 19 167 0.33 20 961 0.36
1995 613 565 6.2 641 849 6.4 20 935 0.36 22 729 0.40
1996 630 977 6.3 659 261 6.6 21 796 0.38 23 589 0.41
1997 642 773 6.4 679 975 6.8 21 818 0.38 23 612 0.41
1998 671 833 6.7 709 036 7.1 23 800 0.41 25 670 0.45
1999 694 673 7.0 731 876 7.3 24 033 0.42 27 993 0.49
2000 704 557 7.1 741 759 7.4 24 131 0.42 28 092 0.49
2001 732 666 7.3 769 868 7.7 24 163 0.42 28 123 0.49
2002 740 062 7.4 777 265 7.8 24 366 0.42 28 718 0.50
2003 795 881 8.0 839 027 8.4 27 566 0.48 31 933 0.56
2004 805 290 8.1 848 436 8.5 29 965 0.52 34 349 0.60
2005 831 946 8.3 875 092 8.8 31 384 0.55 38 575 0.67
2006 838 673 8.4 881 819 8.8 31 734 0.55 38 926 0.68
2007 864 817 8.7 907 963 9.1 31 928 0.56 49 541 0.86
2008 916 805 9.2 959 951 9.6 40 806 0.71 58 419 1.0
2009 948 266 9.5 991 412 9.9 41 361 0.72 58 974 1.0
2010 955 254 9.6 998 400 10.0 50 549 0.88 68 161 1.2
2011 979 700 9.8 1 023 707 10.3 50 634 0.88 68 247 1.2
2012 996 279 10.0 1 040 286 10.4 50 636 0.88 68 249 1.2
2013 1 030 258 10.3 1 104 383 11.1 51 284 0.89 69 633 1.2
2014 1 032 281 10.3 1 106 406 11.1 51 284 0.89 69 766 1.2
2015 1 055 381 10.6 1 129 506 11.3 52 630 0.92 71 137 1.2
2016 1 058 163 10.6 1 132 289 11.3 54 988 0.96 82 341 1.4
2017 1 060 520 10.6 1 134 645 11.4 168 429 2.9 451 132 7.9
2018 1 103 279 11.1 1 177 404 11.8 179 909 3.1 462 609 8.1
2019 1 142 007 11.4 1 219 481 12.2 511 892 8.9 794 596 13.8
2020 1 172 342 11.7 1 249 818 12.5 511 892 8.9 794 596 13.8

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Terrestrial area includes both land and freshwater. Area conserved includes area protected as well as other effective area-based conservation measures. In Canada, marine and terrestrial other effective area-based conservation measures were formally recognized in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Trends are estimated based on site establishment dates rather than when they were formally recognized. For more information on the definition of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, please refer to the Data sources and methods. Canada's terrestrial territory is 9 984 670 square kilometres (km2) and its marine territory is approximately 5 750 000 km2. Overlaps among protected areas and among other effective area-based conservation measures were accounted for. Data are current as of December 31, 2020.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

In 2015, Canada established its 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada. Target 1 states: "By 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures." At the time, 10.5% of Canada's terrestrial area and around 1% of its marine area were recognized as protected. Marine OECMs were first formally recognized in 2017 and terrestrial OECMs in 2018.Footnote 2 

Trends are estimated based on the date a site was established, rather than the date when it was recognized as a Protected Area or OECM. For example, the Sahtu Regional Land Use Plan (a terrestrial area) was established in 2013; the OECMs within the plan were recognized for the first time in 2018. Another example is the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area, a marine refuge that was established as a fishery area closure in 2002 and recognized as an OECM in 2017. As such, the totals for a previous year may change as data are updated.

Terrestrial area conserved has increased by 68% in the last 20 years and by 11% in the last 5 years. Marine area conserved has increased by more than 2 700% in the last 20 years and by more than 1 000% in the last 5 years. In 2019, Canada surpassed its 2020 marine conservation target of 10%, by conserving 13.8% of its marine territory.

The distribution and size of conserved areas is variable. Larger terrestrial conserved areas tend to be located in northern Canada, where there is less intensive use of land for agriculture, settlements, and road networks. Larger marine conserved areas tend to be located in offshore areas or in northern Canada, where human uses are often less intensive. In landscapes and seascapes with competing uses, conserved areas tend to be smaller but more numerous.

Conserved areas, Canada, 2020

Conserved areas, Canada, 2020 (see long description below)
Long description

The map of Canada shows the distribution and size of terrestrial (land and freshwater) and marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures in 2020.

How this indicator was calculated

Note: Terrestrial area includes land and freshwater. Data are current as of December 31, 2020.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

Terrestrial

Terrestrial conserved areas, within each province and territory

Key results

  • The proportion of terrestrial area (land and freshwater) conserved varies by province and territory. It ranges from 4.2% in Prince Edward Island to 19.5% in British Columbia
  • Additions in 2020 include:
    • almost 60 new protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) in Quebec, with 32 383 km2 reported so far
    • designation of St. Marys River Provincial Park in Nova Scotia, with parcels totalling 32 km2
    • five (5) OECMs in Prince Edward Island, totalling 1.8 km2

Proportion of terrestrial area conserved, by province and territory, Canada, 2020

Proportion of terrestrial area conserved, by province and territory, Canada, 2020 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Proportion of terrestrial area conserved, by province and territory, Canada, 2020
Province or territory Provincial or territorial area
(square kilometres)
Area protected
(square kilometres)
Percentage of province or territory protected Other effective area-based conservation measures
(square kilometres)
Area conserved
(square kilometres)
Percentage of province or territory conserved
British Columbia 944 735 146 224 15.5 38 004 184 227 19.5
Northwest Territories 1 346 106 173 140 12.9 39 181 212 321 15.8
Alberta 661 848 101 594 15.4 0 101 594 15.4
Quebec 1 512 418 194 586 12.9 0 194 586 12.9
Nova Scotia 55 284 7 071 12.8 0 7 071 12.8
Yukon 482 443 56 808 11.8 0 56 808 11.8
Manitoba 647 797 71 330 11.0 231 71 561 11.0
Ontario 1 076 395 114 857 10.7 38 114 896 10.7
Nunavut 2 093 190 211 373 10.1 0 211 373 10.1
Saskatchewan 651 036 63 559 9.8 0 63 559 9.8
Newfoundland and Labrador 405 212 28 110 6.9 0 28 110 6.9
New Brunswick 72 908 3 548 4.9 0 3 548 4.9
Prince Edward Island 5 660 213 3.8 24 237 4.2

Note: Area conserved includes area protected as well as other effective area-based conservation measures.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.49 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: Terrestrial area includes land and freshwater. Data are current as of December 31, 2020.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

Each province and territory has set aside areas for conservation. Compared to the previous year, the following provinces increased terrestrial areas conserved:

  • Quebec, from 10.7% to 12.9%
  • Nova Scotia, from 12.6% to 12.8%
  • Saskatchewan, from 9% to 9.8%
  • New Brunswick, from 4.6% to 4.9%
  • Prince Edward Island, from 4% to 4.2%

An increasing number of Indigenous protected areas and OECMs are being established. Recent examples include:

These areas are managed cooperatively between jurisdictions and Indigenous people, or by Indigenous people.

Terrestrial conserved areas, by reporting jurisdiction

Key results

  • Over 62% of all terrestrial areas conserved are reported by provincial and territorial jurisdictions
  • Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada are responsible for 28% and 10% of Canada's terrestrial conserved areas, respectively

Terrestrial area conserved, by reporting jurisdiction, Canada, 2020

Terrestrial conserved areas, by reporting jurisdiction, Canada, 2020 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Terrestrial area conserved, by reporting jurisdiction, Canada, 2020
Jurisdiction Area protected
(square kilometres)
Other effective area-based conservation measures
(square kilometres)
Area conserved
(square kilometres)
Provincial and territorial subtotal 710 513 77 476 787 989
     Quebec 193 254 0 193 254
     British Columbia 140 121 38 002 178 122
     Ontario 101 439 38 101 477
     Northwest Territories 43 110 39 181 82 291
     Manitoba 57 590 231 57 821
     Saskatchewan 57 534 0 57 534
     Alberta 46 080 0 46 080
     Nunavut 36 534 0 36 534
     Yukon 20 613 0 20 613
     Nova Scotia 5 668 0 5 668
     Newfoundland and Labrador 5 302 0 5 302
     New Brunswick 3 080 0 3 080
     Prince Edward Island 189 24 213
Parks Canada 353 079 0 353 079
Environment and Climate Change Canada 119 923 2 119 924
National Capital Commission 462 0 462
Correction for overlaps among jurisdictions -11 635 -1 -11 636
Grand total 1 172 342 77 476 1 249 818

Note: Area conserved includes area protected as well as other effective area-based conservation measures. 

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Terrestrial areas include land and freshwater. Terrestrial area protected under the jurisdiction of the National Capital Commission is too small to see in the figure. Data are current as of December 31, 2020.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

Marine

Marine conserved areas, by reporting jurisdiction

Key results

  • In 2020,
    • no additional marine conserved areas were recognized
  • In 2019,
    • Canada surpassed its target to conserve 10% of its marine territory by 2020
    • the Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area added 319 411 square kilometres (km2) of protected area
  • At the end of 2020, marine refuges covered about 283 000 km2 of Canada's marine territory
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada are responsible for 80% and 15% of Canada's marine conserved areas, respectively

Marine area conserved, by reporting jurisdiction, Canada, 2020

Marine conserved areas, by reporting jurisdiction, Canada, 2020 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Marine area conserved, by reporting jurisdiction, Canada, 2020
Jurisdiction Area protected
(square kilometres)
Other effective area-based conservation measures
(square kilometres)
Area conserved
(square kilometres)
Provincial subtotal 10 258 0 10 258
          Quebec 5 375 0 5 375
          British Columbia 4 631 0 4 631
          Atlantic provinces 173 0 173
          Manitoba 80 0 80
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 351 517 282 766 634 283
Parks Canada 122 089 0 122 089
Environment and Climate Change Canada 31 171 0 31 171
Correction for overlaps among jurisdictions -3 143 -62 -3 205
Grand total 511 892 282 704 794 596

Note: Area conserved includes area protected as well as other effective area-based conservation measures.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.04 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: Data are current as of December 31, 2020.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

Marine refuges are long-term fisheries area closures that have been assessed as meeting Canada's criteria for marine other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada each have specific but complementary mandates for establishing marine protected areas:

  • Oceans Act marine protected areas (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) are established to maintain ecological integrity and to conserve marine species and their habitats. This includes species that are fished, endangered or threatened marine species, as well as unique habitats and areas of high biological productivity or biodiversity
  • National marine conservation areas (Parks Canada) are established to conserve representative examples of Canada's natural and cultural marine heritage and to provide opportunities for public education and enjoyment
  • National wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries (Environment and Climate Change Canada) are established to conserve habitat for a variety of wildlife including migratory birds and endangered species

Areas established by these departments, along with provincially established areas, contribute to the conservation network. The primary goal of this network is to provide long-term conservation of marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and special natural features.

The different jurisdictions conserve areas for different purposes,Footnote 3 and control the amount of human activity (such as transportation, fishing or recreation) that is allowed. Marine conservation efforts include a wide range of management and stewardship activities. Examples include support for the recovery of species at risk, prevention and mitigation of the impact of aquatic invasive species, and strengthening of Canada's response to ship-source marine pollution.

Ecological areas

Conserved areas, by ecological area

Canada's territory can be divided into 31 terrestrial and marine ecozones. Terrestrial ecozones are further divided into 215 terrestrial ecoregions. A representative conserved areas network should conserve biodiversity across all of Canada's ecological areas. 

Conserved areas, by ecozone

An ecozone is a broad area of the Earth's surface that has a distinct climate and biodiversity.

Key results

  • Five (5) terrestrial ecozones, the Tundra Cordillera, the Pacific Maritime, the Montane Cordillera, the Arctic Cordillera and the Southern Arctic, have more than 20% of their area conserved
  • Three (3) marine ecozones, the Arctic Basin, the Offshore Pacific and the Eastern Arctic, have more than 20% of their area conserved
  • 13.3% of the Canadian area of the Great Lakes is conserved

Proportion of area conserved, by ecozone, Canada, 2020

Proportion of area conserved, by ecozone, Canada, 2020 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Proportion of area conserved, by ecozone, Canada, 2020
Ecozone name Ecozone code Ecozone area
(square kilometres)
Area protected
(square kilometres)
Percentage of region protected Other effective area-based conservation measures
(square kilometres)
Area conserved
(square kilometres)
Percentage of region conserved
Arctic Cordillera CL01 229 513 51 891 22.6 0 51 891 22.6
Northern Arctic CL02 1 479 561 105 630 7.1 0 105 630 7.1
Southern Arctic CL03 958 299 186 150 19.4 6 772 192 922 20.1
Taiga Plains CL04 553 374 60 498 10.9 18 212 78 710 14.2
Taiga Shield CL05 1 322 962 143 992 10.9 1 032 145 024 11.0
Boreal Shield CL06 1 902 001 190 779 10.0 0 190 779 10.0
Atlantic Maritime CL07 110 590 9 476 8.6 24 9 501 8.6
Mixedwood Plains CL08 115 395 2 395 2.1 38 2 433 2.1
Boreal Plains CL09 780 010 68 574 8.8 1 682 70 257 9.0
Prairies CL10 464 422 27 702 6.0 231 27 933 6.0
Montane Cordillera CL11 436 791 82 654 18.9 16 425 99 079 22.7
Pacific Maritime CL12 217 022 52 421 24.2 7 559 59 980 27.6
Boreal Cordillera CL13 557 860 96 587 17.3 9 761 106 348 19.1
Taiga Cordillera CL14 231 266 21 509 9.3 10 505 32 014 13.8
Hudson Plains CL15 348 406 43 760 12.6 0 43 760 12.6
Tundra Cordillera CL16 28 887 7 134 24.7 3 197 10 331 35.8
Atlantic Highlands CL17 93 012 3 954 4.3 0 3 954 4.3
Semi-Arid Plateaus CL18 56 464 5 339 9.5 2 037 7 377 13.1
Strait of Georgia CW19 8 969 425 4.7 32 458 5.1
Southern Shelf CW20 28 158 785 2.8 0 785 2.8
Offshore Pacific CW21 315 724 10 547 3.3 82 431 92 977 29.4
Northern Shelf CW22 101 663 16 669 16.4 0 16 669 16.4
Arctic Basin CW23 752 053 284 091 37.8 0 284 091 37.8
Western Arctic CW24 539 807 12 060 2.2 0 12 060 2.2
Arctic Archipelago CW25 268 792 38 923 14.5 0 38 923 14.5
Eastern Arctic CW26 782 636 115 296 14.7 58 725 174 021 22.2
Hudson Bay Complex CW27 1 244 670 8 684 0.7 0 8 684 0.7
Newfoundland-Labrador Shelves CW28 1 041 588 12 559 1.2 105 916 118 475 11.4
Scotian Shelf CW29 416 296 6 000 1.4 19 731 25 730 6.2
Gulf of Saint Lawrence CW30 246 648 5 852 2.4 15 869 21 721 8.8
Great Lakes CW31 89 236 11 894 13.3 0 11 894 13.3

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 2.44 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: Area conserved includes area protected as well as other effective area-based conservation measures. Data are current as of December 31, 2020.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

Terrestrial ecozones with high levels of urbanization and development or widespread agriculture tend to have small proportions of conserved area. For example, the Mixedwood Plains (in southern Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River) has only 2.1% of its area conserved and the Prairies has 6.0%. On the other hand, terrestrial ecozones with a high proportion of conserved area tend to be remote or have high recreation value. For example, ecozones in the western mountain ranges have 19% or more of their area conserved.

Recent efforts have rapidly increased the amount of area conserved in some marine ecozones. Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area in the Arctic Basin is the largest marine protected area in Canada, increasing the proportion of the ecozone protected from less than 1% to 37.8%. Marine refuges in the Offshore Pacific, Eastern Arctic, Newfoundland-Labrador Shelves, Scotian Shelf and Gulf of St. Lawrence have conserved more than 5% of each of these areas.

Each ecozone is unique, and conservation involves the inclusion of areas that are representative of different parts of the ecozone and sites of special value. Challenges to establishing conserved areas include competition from other uses, such as agriculture, industry or urban development, and it may be limited by the extent of ecologically intact areas within the ecozone.

Conserved areas, by ecoregion

Ecoregions are subdivisions of ecozones characterized by distinctive regional attributes. These include climate, landforms, vegetation, soil, flora and fauna.

Key results

  • Of the 215 ecoregions in Canada,
    • 75% (160 ecoregions) have less than 17% of their area conserved
    • 10% (22 ecoregions) have between 17% and 30% of their area conserved
    • 15% (33 ecoregions) have more than 30% of their area conserved

Figure 7. Proportion of area conserved, by ecoregion, Canada, 2020

Proportion of area conserved, by ecoregion, Canada, 2020 (see data table below for the long description)
Data table for the long description
Proportion of area conserved, by ecoregion, Canada, 2020
Ecoregion name Ecoregion code Ecoregion area
(square kilometres)
Area protected
(square kilometres)
Percentage of region protected Other effective area-based conservation measures
(square kilometres)
Area conserved
(square kilometres)
Percentage of region conserved
Ellesmere and Devon Island Ice Caps CL01R01 113 244 14 120 12.5 0 14 120 12.5
Baffin Mountains CL01R02 87 928 27 592 31.4 0 27 592 31.4
Baffin Islands Coastal Lowlands CL01R03 9 159 476 5.2 0 476 5.2
Torngat Mountains CL01R04 19 182 9 764 50.9 0 9 764 50.9
Ellesmere Mountains CL02R01 53 112 6 197 11.7 0 6 197 11.7
Eureka Hills CL02R02 75 769 15 492 20.4 0 15 492 20.4
Polar Islands CL02R03 21 353 0 0 0 0 0
Sverdrup Islands Lowland CL02R04 28 971 0 0 0 0 0
Lancaster Plateau CL02R05 102 430 78 0.1 0 78 0.1
High Arctic CL02R06 25 939 3 687 14.2 0 3 687 14.2
Central Melville Upland CL02R07 15 210 0 0 0 0 0
Parry Islands Plateau CL02R08 43 593 12 266 28.1 0 12 266 28.1
Mid Arctic West CL02R09 42 701 26 585 62.3 0 26 585 62.3
Mid Arctic East CL02R10 91 488 362 0.4 0 362 0.4
Low Arctic North CL02R11 9 859 859 8.7 0 859 8.7
Shaler Mountains CL02R12 26 327 0 0 0 0 0
Amundsen Gulf Lowlands CL02R13 49 141 22 0 0 22 0
Victoria Islands Lowland CL02R14 123 129 0 0 0 0 0
Prince of Wales Island Lowland CL02R15 17 150 0 0 0 0 0
Boothia Peninsula Plateau CL02R16 35 701 0 0 0 0 0
Gulf of Boothia Plain CL02R17 24 426 13 0.1 0 13 0.1
Borden Peninsula Plateau CL02R18 31 473 11 822 37.6 0 11 822 37.6
Melville Peninsula Plateau CL02R19 111 290 11 0 0 11 0
Baffin Island Uplands CL02R20 79 703 1 597 2.0 0 1 597 2.0
Wager Bay Plateau CL02R21 250 876 18 440 7.4 0 18 440 7.4
Foxe Basin Plain CL02R22 56 549 6 574 11.6 0 6 574 11.6
Meta Incognita Peninsula CL02R23 77 447 1 223 1.6 0 1 223 1.6
Pangnirtung Upland CL02R24 34 271 40 0.1 0 40 0.1
Hall Peninsula Upland CL02R25 35 389 0 0 0 0 0
Baffin Upland CL02R26 16 265 301 1.9 0 301 1.9
Yukon Coastal Plain CL03R01 4 652 2 478 53.3 0 2 478 53.3
West Lowlands CL03R02 24 729 1 178 4.8 0 1 178 4.8
Central Lowlands CL03R03 14 847 335 2.3 0 335 2.3
East Lowlands CL03R04 5 112 101 2.0 0 101 2.0
East Highlands CL03R05 22 546 16 696 74.1 0 16 696 74.1
Coronation Hills CL03R06 77 972 2 085 2.7 3 652 5 737 7.4
Bathurst Hills CL03R07 8 986 1 0 0 1 0
Takijua Lake Upland CL03R08 126 102 1 543 1.2 915 2 457 1.9
Queen Maud Gulf Lowland CL03R09 66 172 43 449 65.7 0 43 449 65.7
Chantrey Inlet Lowland CL03R10 21 959 2 163 9.9 0 2 163 9.9
Garry Lake Lowland CL03R11 98 928 29 029 29.3 2 206 31 235 31.6
Back River Plain CL03R12 33 117 14 989 45.3 0 14 989 45.3
Dubawnt Lake Plain and Upland CL03R13 54 322 14 869 27.4 0 14 869 27.4
Maguse River Upland CL03R14 78 598 257 0.3 0 257 0.3
Southampton Island Plain CL03R15 37 903 1 463 3.9 0 1 463 3.9
Ottawa Islands CL03R16 410 0 0 0 0 0
Belcher Islands CL03R17 3 214 0 0 0 0 0
Ungava Peninsula CL03R18 240 236 39 313 16.4 0 39 313 16.4
Northern Labrador Highlands CL03R19 38 496 16 202 42.1 0 16 202 42.1
Mackenzie Delta CL04R01 9 373 0 0 130 130 1.4
Low Subarctic Northern Plains CL04R02 55 550 8 111 14.6 2 216 10 327 18.6
Northern Uplands CL04R03 54 532 808 1.5 6 920 7 728 14.2
High Subarctic Northern Plains CL04R04 82 597 666 0.8 2 020 2 685 3.3
Central Highlands CL04R05 38 262 3 307 8.6 2 699 6 006 15.7
Central Uplands CL04R06 17 973 109 0.6 16 125 0.7
Central Plains CL04R07 20 851 1 128 5.4 3 149 4 277 20.5
Lac Grandin Plain CL04R08 26 097 1 317 5.0 523 1 840 7.1
West-central Uplands CL04R09 10 647 683 6.4 0 683 6.4
Mackenzie Plain CL04R10 18 388 1 439 7.8 0 1 439 7.8
Bulmer Plain CL04R11 17 255 1 370 7.9 0 1 370 7.9
Horn Plateau CL04R12 9 404 6 946 73.9 0 6 946 73.9
Great Slave Lake Plain CL04R13 15 877 116 0.7 0 116 0.7
Northern Alberta Upland CL04R14 31 212 481 1.5 540 1 021 3.3
Southern Uplands CL04R15 15 675 0 0 0 0 0
Northern Mixedwood CL04R16 92 264 24 663 26.7 0 24 663 26.7
Lower Boreal Highlands North CL04R17 11 745 1 926 16.4 0 1 926 16.4
Boreal Subarctic CL04R18 14 006 5 844 41.7 0 5 844 41.7
Slave Lowlands CL04R19 11 667 1 583 13.6 0 1 583 13.6
High Subarctic West CL05R01 60 726 3 155 5.2 950 4 105 6.8
Low Subarctic North CL05R02 58 734 4 831 8.2 82 4 913 8.4
High Boreal CL05R03 111 755 15 043 13.5 0 15 043 13.5
Slave Plain CL05R04 7 579 11 0.1 0 11 0.1
Selwyn Lake Upland CL05R05 196 275 22 463 11.4 0 22 463 11.4
Kazan River Upland CL05R06 183 946 24 006 13.1 0 24 006 13.1
La Grande Hills CL05R07 171 951 34 569 20.1 0 34 569 20.1
Nord-du-Québec CentralPlateau CL05R08 177 618 16 735 9.4 0 16 735 9.4
McPhayden Plateau CL05R09 9 461 7 0.1 0 7 0.1
Ungava Bay Basin CL05R10 109 785 13 361 12.2 0 13 361 12.2
Kingurutik-Fraser CL05R11 52 915 11 0 0 11 0
Coastal Barrens CL05R12 13 520 856 6.3 0 856 6.3
Michikamau-Smallwood CL05R13 86 549 1 448 1.7 0 1 448 1.7
Nipishish-Goose CL05R14 23 259 0 0 0 0 0
Mecatina River CL05R15 41 289 0 0 0 0 0
Eagle Plateau – Mealy Mountains CL05R16 17 599 7 496 42.6 0 7 496 42.6
Athabasca Plain CL06R01 87 467 6 466 7.4 0 6 466 7.4
Churchill River Upland CL06R02 196 603 11 634 5.9 0 11 634 5.9
Hayes River Upland CL06R03 131 805 4 697 3.6 0 4 697 3.6
Big Trout Lake CL06R04 146 897 5 610 3.8 0 5 610 3.8
Lake St. Joseph CL06R05 91 057 25 599 28.1 0 25 599 28.1
Lake Wabigoon CL06R06 75 331 15 679 20.8 0 15 679 20.8
Lake of the Woods CL06R07 16 390 760 4.6 0 760 4.6
Lake Nipigon CL06R08 89 192 14 724 16.5 0 14 724 16.5
Pigeon River CL06R09 20 468 5 156 25.2 0 5 156 25.2
Abitibi Lowlands CL06R10 211 625 17 552 8.3 0 17 552 8.3
Lake Temagami CL06R11 41 758 6 264 15.0 0 6 264 15.0
Georgian Bay CL06R12 74 501 7 881 10.6 0 7 881 10.6
Mistassini Highlands CL06R13 97 165 16 232 16.7 0 16 232 16.7
Southern Laurentides Highlands CL06R14 158 761 12 538 7.9 0 12 538 7.9
Central Laurentides Highlands CL06R15 205 129 19 865 9.7 0 19 865 9.7
Lake Melville CL06R16 17 668 461 2.6 0 461 2.6
Paradise River CL06R17 17 160 1 900 11.1 0 1 900 11.1
Middle and Lower Côte-Nord Plateau CL06R18 104 282 9 720 9.3 0 9 720 9.3
Anticosti Island CL06R19 7 937 602 7.6 0 602 7.6
Strait of Belle Isle Barrens CL06R20 1 783 42 2.3 0 42 2.3
Northern Peninsula Forest CL06R21 8 508 505 5.9 0 505 5.9
Long Range Barrens CL06R22 16 589 1 589 9.6 0 1 589 9.6
Western Newfoundland Forest CL06R23 9 874 551 5.6 0 551 5.6
Central Newfoundland Forest CL06R24 28 731 528 1.8 0 528 1.8
North Shore Forest CL06R25 5 483 133 2.4 0 133 2.4
Maritime Barrens CL06R26 37 734 4 037 10.7 0 4 037 10.7
Avalon Forest CL06R27 555 14 2.6 0 14 2.6
Eastern Hyper-Oceanic Barrens CL06R28 1 545 44 2.9 0 44 2.9
Valley Lowlands CL07R01 20 310 722 3.6 0 722 3.6
Eastern Lowlands CL07R02 39 021 1 792 4.6 0 1 792 4.6
Grand Lake Lowlands CL07R03 3 780 153 4.0 0 153 4.0
Central Uplands East CL07R04 1 408 208 14.7 0 208 14.7
Fundy Coast CL07R05 3 633 256 7.0 0 256 7.0
Prince Edward Island CL07R06 5 932 213 3.6 24 237 4.0
Îles-de-la-Madeleine CL07R07 232 24 10.2 0 24 10.2
Avalon Uplands CL07R08 4 793 404 8.4 0 404 8.4
Triassic Lowlands CL07R09 1 367 1 0.1 0 1 0.1
Western Meguma Interior CL07R10 17 129 2 874 16.8 0 2 874 16.8
Eastern Meguma Interior CL07R11 6 136 787 12.8 0 787 12.8
Cape Breton Highlands CL07R12 2 460 1 282 52.1 0 1 282 52.1
Cape Breton Taiga CL07R13 302 227 75.2 0 227 75.2
Atlantic Coast CL07R14 4 088 534 13.1 0 534 13.1
St. Lawrence Lowlands CL08R01 44 124 1 442 3.3 0 1 443 3.3
Lake Simcoe CL08R02 49 405 748 1.5 38 787 1.6
Lake Erie - Lake Ontario CL08R03 21 865 198 0.9 0 198 0.9
Muskwa Plateau CL09R01 26 169 857 3.3 1 857 3.3
Mid Boreal Uplands CL09R02 307 570 41 723 13.6 724 42 447 13.8
Lower Boreal Highlands South CL09R03 69 089 3 039 4.4 559 3 598 5.2
Upper Boreal Highlands CL09R04 11 894 2 331 19.6 0 2 331 19.6
Dry Mixedwood CL09R05 58 592 939 1.6 180 1 118 1.9
Peace River Parkland CL09R06 3 122 20 0.6 0 20 0.6
Lower Foothills CL09R07 51 105 457 0.9 189 647 1.3
Upper Foothills CL09R08 22 460 600 2.7 30 631 2.8
Peace-Athabasca Delta CL09R09 5 539 5 227 94.4 0 5 227 94.4
Boreal Transition CL09R10 91 799 5 109 5.6 0 5 109 5.6
Mid Boreal Lowland CL09R11 92 890 6 696 7.2 0 6 696 7.2
Interlake Plain CL09R12 39 782 1 576 4.0 0 1 576 4.0
Aspen Parkland CL10R01 170 223 6 285 3.7 231 6 516 3.8
Foothills Parkland CL10R02 3 928 243 6.2 0 243 6.2
Foothills Fescue CL10R03 13 642 49 0.4 0 49 0.4
Moist Mixed Grassland CL10R04 82 833 4 860 5.9 0 4 860 5.9
Mixedgrass CL10R05 17 599 180 1.0 0 180 1.0
Dry Mixedgrass CL10R06 133 416 14 238 10.7 0 14 238 10.7
Cypress Mixedgrass CL10R07 7 517 1 075 14.3 0 1 075 14.3
Cypress Hills Montane CL10R08 309 206 66.7 0 206 66.7
Southwest Manitoba Uplands CL10R09 2 188 178 8.1 0 178 8.1
Lake Manitoba Plain CL10R10 32 768 388 1.2 0 388 1.2
Skeena Mountains CL11R01 24 427 882 3.6 546 1 428 5.8
Omineca Mountains CL11R02 34 083 2 960 8.7 304 3 264 9.6
Fraser Basin CL11R03 43 017 1 527 3.5 401 1 928 4.5
Central Canadian Rocky Mountains CL11R04 37 273 3 996 10.7 2 489 6 486 17.4
Eastern Hazelton Mountains CL11R05 13 535 5 993 44.3 1 048 7 041 52.0
Chilcotin Ranges CL11R06 15 784 6 476 41.0 383 6 859 43.5
Fraser Plateau CL11R07 82 038 5 179 6.3 6 140 11 319 13.8
Columbia Highlands CL11R08 29 572 3 203 10.8 2 414 5 617 19.0
Selkirk-Bitterroot Foothills CL11R09 7 646 877 11.5 56 933 12.2
Northern Columbia Mountains CL11R10 53 493 12 036 22.5 1 143 13 179 24.6
Southern Rocky Mountain Trench CL11R11 8 498 607 7.1 152 759 8.9
Purcell Transitional Ranges CL11R12 8 108 1 196 14.8 6 1 203 14.8
Western Continental Ranges CL11R13 23 382 6 501 27.8 113 6 614 28.3
Northern Continental Divide CL11R14 5 916 437 7.4 872 1 309 22.1
Eastern Continental Ranges CL11R15 50 020 30 785 61.5 356 31 142 62.3
Mount Logan CL12R01 12 925 12 923 100 0 12 923 100
Chugach Mountains and Icefields CL12R02 2 338 2 338 100 0 2 338 100
Boundary Ranges CL12R03 21 426 1 318 6.2 10 1 328 6.2
Nass Ranges CL12R04 27 323 1 280 4.7 1 505 2 785 10.2
Gwaii Haanas CL12R05 10 049 4 820 48.0 8 4 828 48.0
Coastal Gap CL12R06 45 187 16 907 37.4 633 17 540 38.8
Western Vancouver Island CL12R07 20 165 2 815 14.0 808 3 623 18.0
Eastern Vancouver Island CL12R08 12 333 1 546 12.5 209 1 755 14.2
Georgia-Puget Basin CL12R09 1 668 150 9.0 3 154 9.2
Lower Mainland CL12R10 4 290 219 5.1 50 269 6.3
Pacific Ranges CL12R11 59 317 8 105 13.7 4 333 12 437 21.0
St. Elias Mountains CL13R01 18 708 15 693 83.9 0 15 693 83.9
Wellesley Lake CL13R02 3 983 0 0 0 0 0
Ruby-Nisling Ranges CL13R03 18 885 10 0.1 0 10 0.1
Klondike Plateau CL13R04 36 520 0 0 0 0 0
Yukon Plateau-Central CL13R05 24 030 110 0.5 0 110 0.5
McQuesten Highlands CL13R06 23 592 764 3.2 0 764 3.2
Yukon Plateau-North CL13R07 49 503 1 770 3.6 0 1 770 3.6
Selwyn Mountains CL13R08 35 697 1 0 0 1 0
Mid-Boreal Highlands CL13R09 24 120 12 638 52.4 2 12 640 52.4
High Boreal Highlands CL13R10 23 759 18 135 76.3 0 18 135 76.3
High Boreal Lowlands CL13R11 9 561 1 042 10.9 0 1 042 10.9
Yukon-Stikine Highlands CL13R12 23 468 6 654 28.4 0 6 654 28.4
Yukon Southern Lakes CL13R13 50 133 5 846 11.7 0 5 846 11.7
Pelly Mountains CL13R14 46 960 140 0.3 0 140 0.3
Boreal Mountains and Plateaus CL13R15 79 123 20 724 26.2 4 407 25 132 31.8
Liard Basin CL13R16 28 926 620 2.1 0 620 2.1
Hyland Highland CL13R17 19 609 378 1.9 0 378 1.9
Northern Canadian Rocky Mountains CL13R18 41 282 12 062 29.2 5 351 17 414 42.2
Davidson Mountains CL14R01 5 191 3 302 63.6 0 3 302 63.6
Old Crow Basin CL14R02 14 923 5 794 38.8 0 5 794 38.8
North Ogilvie Mountains CL14R03 40 613 5 066 12.5 0 5 066 12.5
Eagle Plains CL14R04 21 985 1 296 5.9 0 1 296 5.9
Mackenzie Mountains CL14R05 31 568 910 2.9 0 910 2.9
Low Subarctic Lowlands CL14R06 43 421 1 861 4.3 1 833 3 694 8.5
High Subarctic Highlands CL14R07 24 526 137 0.6 1 652 1 789 7.3
Low Subarctic Highlands CL14R08 49 040 3 145 6.4 7 020 10 165 20.7
Coastal Hudson Bay Lowland CL15R01 57 236 26 576 46.4 0 26 576 46.4
Hudson Bay Lowland CL15R02 138 825 13 362 9.6 0 13 362 9.6
James Bay Lowlands CL15R03 152 345 3 823 2.5 0 3 823 2.5
British-Richardson Mountains CL16R01 28 887 7 134 24.7 3 197 10 331 35.8
Appalachian Mountains CL17R01 69 073 2 693 3.9 0 2 693 3.9
Central Uplands West CL17R02 12 393 377 3.0 0 377 3.0
Northern New Brunswick Uplands CL17R03 8 724 601 6.9 0 601 6.9
New Brunswick Highlands CL17R04 2 822 283 10.0 0 283 10.0
Interior Transition Ranges CL18R01 14 026 2 235 15.9 1 132 3 367 24.0
Northern Cascade Ranges CL18R02 9 479 1 649 17.4 196 1 844 19.5
Thompson-Okanagan Plateau CL18R03 31 596 1 255 4.0 701 1 956 6.2
Okanagan Highland CL18R04 1 363 200 14.7 9 209 15.3
Great Lakes CW31 89 236 11 894 13.3 0 11 894 13.3

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 12.3 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: Area conserved includes area protected as well as area conserved with other measures. Data are current as of December 31, 2020.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2020) Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

The area conserved varies greatly among ecoregions. Ecoregions that have the highest proportion of area conserved are associated with large protected areas. For example, the Peace-Athabasca Delta ecoregion has 94.4% of its area conserved (Wood Buffalo National Park) and the Mount Logan ecoregion has 100% of its area conserved (Kluane National Park and Reserve). On the other hand, ecoregions in urban or agricultural landscapes have the lowest proportion of area conserved. The  Lake Simcoe and Lake Erie - Lake Ontario ecoregions each have less than 3% of their area conserved.

About the indicators

About the indicators

What the indicators measure

These indicators report the amount and proportion of Canada's terrestrial (land and freshwater) and marine area that is conserved. Conserved areas are lands and waters where human use is limited. They include protected areas as well as other effective area-based conservation measures. Canada recognizes the international definitions of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (One with Nature 2018 [PDF; 2.12 MB] and Canada's Marine Protection Standards). Land and/or water access and use within protected areas are controlled primarily for the purpose of conserving nature (for example, a park, a conservation area or a wildlife reserve). Other effective area-based conservation measures are also managed over the long term in ways that result in the effective conservation of biodiversity. However, they might have been established for other purposes. In some cases, certain commercial activities and harvesting of biological resources may be allowed so long as there is no major negative impact to the conservation objectives of the area.

Why these indicators are important

Well-managed conserved areas are one way to protect wild species and their habitats for present and future generations. Habitat conservation is a measure of human response to the loss of biodiversity and natural habitat. As the area conserved in Canada increases, more lands and waters are withdrawn from direct human development stresses, thereby contributing to biodiversity conservation and improving the health of ecosystems. In turn, healthy ecosystems provide benefits such as clean water, mitigation of climate change, pollination and improved human health.

Many countries use protected areas as the core of their programs to preserve biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services. The parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, among them Canada, set an aspirational target to conserve at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland waters, and 10% of marine areas, by 2020. This is the 11th of 20 targets collectively known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, established in October 2010.

As part of its work towards achieving Target 1 of the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada, Canada has conserved new areas and recognized previously existing areas. The Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative focusses on terrestrial and freshwater areas, while Fisheries and Oceans Canada leads on meeting marine conservation targets. In 2015, when the Biodiversity Goals and Targets were established for Canada, 10.5% of Canada’s terrestrial area and around 1% of its marine area were recognized as protected.

A new area-based target has been set for Canada, conserving 25% of our lands and 25% of our oceans by 2025, and working towards 30% of each by 2030. 

FSDS icon: Healthy coasts and oceans

Healthy coasts and oceans

These indicators track progress on the 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, supporting the target: By 2020, 10% of coastal and marine areas are conserved through networks of marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. As of the end of 2020, 13.8% of Canada's coastal and marine areas was recognized as conserved through a network of marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, including 8.9% in protected areas.

FSDS icon: Sustainably managed lands and forests

Sustainably managed lands and forests

These indicators track progress on the 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, supporting the target: By 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. As of the end of 2020, 12.5% of Canada's terrestrial areas and inland water was recognized as conserved through a network of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, including 11.7% in protected areas.

In addition, the indicators contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are linked to Goal 14, Life Below Water and Target 14.5, "By 2020, conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information." They are also linked to Goal 15, Life on Land and Target 15.1, "By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements."

The indicators also contribute towards reporting on Target 1 of the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada: "By 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures."

Related indicators

The Ecological integrity of national parks indicator reports on the condition of ecosystems within national parks, an important element of Canada's conserved area network.

The Global trends in protected areas indicator compares Canada's protected area to a peer group of countries.

Data sources and methods

Data sources and methods

Data sources

Data are taken from the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database (the database). Data from federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, the authoritative data sources, are compiled by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

More information

Protected areas and areas conserved with other measures

Protected areas together with other effective area-based conservation measures are referred to as conserved areas. Protected areas are areas recognized as meeting the international definition for a protected area. The International Union for Conservation of Nature defines a protected area as "a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values."

Other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) must meet the Convention on Biodiversity definition to be recognized. The Convention on Biodiversity defines an "other effective area-based conservation measure" as "a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in situ conservation of biodiversity."Footnote 4 Canada implements the Convention on Biodiversity's OECM definition in a manner that reflects national circumstances. Guidance for assessing sites as Protected Areas or OECMs in Canada is provided through the Pathway to Canada Target 1 Decision Support Tool.Footnote 5 Guidance for assessing federal marine OECMs is provided through the Marine OECM guidance.Footnote 6 

Data description

The database contains data consolidated from all jurisdictions with responsibilities for conserved areas in Canada. Data are current as of December 31, 2020.

At least once each year, federal, provincial and territorial departments and agencies submit geospatial and ancillary data for conserved areas under their administrative control. Data on areas controlled by Indigenous or non-governmental organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada, are included where a jurisdiction has recognized and reported those areas.

The data include the name of the area, its geospatial location, boundaries, official area, biome (terrestrial/marine), International Union for Conservation of Nature management category, managing jurisdiction, and protection date, among other information.

In cases where the same attribute information does not apply to the entire conserved area, the area is divided into zones for reporting. For example, a single protected area that crosses a provincial border is divided into zones corresponding to the different provinces. Similarly, a protected area that is later expanded is treated as several zones, each with its own protection date. Terrestrial and marine sections are treated as separate zones; freshwater is included in the terrestrial zone. Ancillary data are maintained independently for each zone. Conserved areas that are undivided are treated as a single zone.

Work is ongoing to capture and incorporate data on additional privately held protected areas and on areas being conserved through means other than formal protection.

Jurisdictional area

  • For Canada and for all provinces and territories except Quebec: Natural Resources Canada (2005) Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Land and freshwater area, by province and territory
  • For Quebec: Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques
  • Canada's marine territory: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2013) departmental analysis based on National Resources Canada (2009) Atlas of Canada 1:1,000,000 National Frameworks Data, Administrative Boundaries

National boundaries

Natural Resources Canada (2019) CanVec Series 1:1,000,000 Geopolitical Region, Administrative Boundaries.

Ecozones and ecoregions

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2019) Canadian Terrestrial Ecological Framework. Marine ecozones are based on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2016) Federal Marine Bioregions (Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Science Advisory Report 2009/056).

Methods

The area conserved is estimated by means of a geographical analysis based on reported boundaries, accounting for overlaps. Separate estimates are made for protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs).

More information

Calculating Canada's conserved area

The Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database (the database) contains information on the protection (or conservation) date for each zone. For some zones, it also contains a delisting date.

To estimate the terrestrial protected area trend over time:

  1. All polygons representing terrestrial protected areas that were protected in 1990 or earlier were selected from the database
  2. The selected polygons were dissolved into a single polygon (removing overlaps), and the resulting area calculated using Albers Equal Area Conic projection
  3. The process was repeated for each subsequent year (delisted areas were removed from the analysis starting in the year they were delisted)
  4. Estimates were divided by the total terrestrial area of Canada to determine the proportion protected

To estimate the marine protected area, a similar process was followed, selecting protected marine polygons at each step. The process was repeated for OECMs, for both terrestrial and marine. Total area conserved was calculated by summing area protected and OECM area.

Within the database, 3.7% of sites have an unknown conservation date. If a polygon with an unknown conservation date was described as "interim," it was assigned a conservation date based on the year it was first reported to the database (1.2% of total sites); otherwise it was treated as having been conserved prior to 1990.

Terrestrial conserved areas, within each province and territory

The database contains information on the province or territory in which a conserved area is located. Using methodology similar to that used for reporting trends in the national indicator, for each province and territory, terrestrial protected area polygons were combined into a single polygon and the area calculated. The analysis was repeated for terrestrial OECMs. Only overlaps within a province or territory are removed. Overlaps between provinces and territories can occur, due to unavoidable uncertainties in spatial data. They are not accounted for in the table, Proportion of terrestrial area conserved, by province and territory.

Terrestrial and marine conserved areas, by reporting jurisdiction

The database also contains information on the jurisdiction responsible for each conserved area. As with the national indicator, for each jurisdiction, protected areas polygons were combined into a single polygon and the total area was calculated. Additional analysis was conducted to estimate the area for OECMs.

Conserved areas, by ecological area

The database does not contain information on ecological areas. To generate an estimate of conserved area within each ecozone and ecoregion, a geospatial analysis was conducted. However, national ecozone and ecoregion boundaries are more generalized than local conserved areas boundaries, and this has the potential to affect estimates in coastal areas. To avoid this problem, marine conserved area polygons that mapped outside a marine ecozone were assigned to the nearest marine ecozone. Similarly, terrestrial conserved areas that mapped outside a terrestrial ecozone were assigned to the nearest terrestrial ecozone. The steps followed were:

  1. A working layer containing generalized ecozone boundaries was developed
    1. Marine ecozone boundaries were copied from the national ecozone coverage, and marine ecozone polygons were extended inland to include adjacent terrestrial regions
  2. The marine protected area polygons were selected from the database
  3. The working layer and the marine protected area polygons were combined into a single layer
    1. Marine protected areas that crossed ecozone boundaries were divided at the boundary
  4. Protected area polygons were selected from the combined layer, and the overlap-corrected area was calculated for each generalized ecozone, resulting in marine areas being assigned to the correct ecozone
  5. The process was repeated for marine OECMs
  6. The process was repeated for terrestrial protected areas and terrestrial OECMs

To be consistent with the projection used in the database, the ecozone layer was re-projected to Albers Equal Area Conic. The total area of each ecozone was then calculated from its geospatial boundaries. The Newfoundland-Labrador Shelves ecozone area was corrected for the territorial area of St Pierre and Miquelon. The total area conserved per ecozone was divided by the total area of the ecozone in order to generate a percentage.

For the terrestrial ecoregion analysis, a geospatial analysis calculated the overlap-adjusted protected area and OECM area within each ecoregion. Terrestrial conserved areas falling outside the ecoregion boundaries were assigned to the nearest ecoregion.

Recent changes

In 2018, the Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System was converted to the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database and brought formally within Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Caveats and limitations

Data are regularly reviewed and updated. The completeness of the database is continuously being improved as existing conserved areas are reviewed and added to the database if appropriate. Information on the protection date for sites with previously unreported dates may influence trend calculations.

Trends are estimated based on the date a site was established, rather than the date when it was recognized as a Protected Area or other effective area-based conservation measure (OECM). As such, the totals for a previous year may change as data are updated.

Comparisons with previous reports should be made with caution, as data quality and completeness continue to improve. Privately protected land and OECMs contribute to achievement of Canada's targets, but many are not yet captured within the database.

More information

The area protected or conserved calculated using polygon boundaries may differ from the "official area" reported in the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.

Responsibility for source data accuracy and completeness lies with the jurisdictions. Jurisdictional work is guided by the federal, provincial and territorial report One with Nature (PDF; 2.12 MB). Guidance material and decision support tools were adapted from, and in collaboration with, the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas. Nonetheless, some differences in the approach jurisdictions take in recognizing protected areas and OECMs can be expected.

Areas that are no longer recognized as protected or conserved ("decommissioned" or "delisted") are not captured comprehensively and may be missing from the database. Decommissioned or delisted areas are counted from their establishment date until their delisting date.

Complex boundaries, such as coastlines and ecological areas, must be generalized for mapping purposes. In nature, ecozones or ecoregions do not have sharp boundaries. Due to the uncertainty of such boundaries, results should be seen as estimates rather than precise measurements. The mismatch in scale between conserved areas, mapped with fine detail, and national-scale geographic frameworks, mapped at a broad scale, may lead to minor differences across the various summaries because of the measurement uncertainty inherent in this type of analysis. Differences in the delineation of coastlines may result in a small amount of overlap between marine and terrestrial conserved area polygon boundaries; these overlaps have not been addressed.

Ecozones and ecoregions are ecologically based frameworks and should not be considered an expression of sovereignty. The 2019 updates to the ecozone and ecoregion frameworks have been completed for the purpose of reporting on ecological representation for the Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative, and do not represent an official update of the 1995 National Ecological Framework. While the 2019 framework contains the most up-to-date information from jurisdictions, it should be noted that a different methodology was used by each data provider to determine the boundaries of the ecozones and ecoregions and that this national layer may differ from the provincial and territorial layers.

Protection is a designation, and the indicators do not provide information on the effectiveness of protection, the degree to which the ecological functioning of the area is intact, or the degree to which pressures outside a conserved area might affect the biodiversity within it. For example, an OECM such as a marine refuge restricts certain activities without limiting others.

Resources

Resources

References

Canadian Council on Ecological Areas Secretariat (2008) Canadian Guidebook for the Application of International Union for Conservation of Nature Protected Area Categories 2008. CCEA Occasional Paper No. 18. Canadian Council on Ecological Areas, Ottawa, ON. 66 pp.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2009) Development of a Framework and Principles for the Biogeographic Classification of Canadian Marine Areas. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Science Advisory Report 2009/056. Retrieved on March 10, 2021.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2017) Operational Guidance for Identifying "Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures" in Canada's Marine Environment. Retrieved on March 10, 2021.

Pathway to Canada Target 1 Initiative (2018) One with Nature. A Renewed Approach to Land and Freshwater Conservation in Canada (PDF; 2.12 MB). Retrieved on March 10, 2021.

Stolton S, Shadie P and Dudley N (2013) Guidelines for applying protected area management categories including IUCN WCPA best practice guidance on recognising protected areas and assigning management categories and governance types (combined volume). Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series No. 21, Gland, Switzerland, section 2. Retrieved on March 10, 2021.

Related information

2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada

Canadian Council on Ecological Areas

Convention on Biological Diversity

Interactive map of Quebec's protected areas (in French only)

Pathway to Canada Target 1

ProtectedPlanet.net

Infographic
Infographic on Canada's conserved areas (see below for the long description)
Long description

The infographic presents information on Canada's conserved areas indicators. Conserved areas protect wild species and their habitats for future generations. A map of Canada shows the location of marine and terrestrial conserved areas. It also shows the location of the Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area in Canada's arctic. At 319 411 km2, the Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area is the largest protected area in Canada and it is equal to 5.5% of the total marine territory, or 40% of the marine area conserved.

Total area conserved in Canada has increased by 70% in the last 5 years.

At the end of 2020, Canada had conserved 13.8% (794 596 km2) of its marine territory and 12.5% (1 249 818 km2) of its terrestrial area (land and freshwater).

Canada surpassed its 2020 marine conservation target of 10%. The 2020 terrestrial conservation target of 17% had not yet been achieved. Canada has since increased its commitment to conserving 25% of Canada's land and oceans by 2025.

Examples of conserved areas include:

  • Indigenous protected and conserved areas
  • National wildlife areas
  • National, provincial and territorial parks
  • National marine conservation areas
  • Marine refuges (marine example of an other effective area-based conservation measure)
  • Marine Protected Areas
  • Other effective area-based conservation measures
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