When you look at Canada on a map you see geographical boundaries that divide up one of the largest countries on earth. You hear us mention places like British Columbia and Yukon, or the Kawartha Region of Ontario... but what you don't hear mentioned is the actual diversity of the landscapes that we visit, and what the draw is for us.
From the tundra in the far reaches of the north, to the Boreal forest, the largest forest on earth, to the taiga, the world's largest land biome, and
This week we will be highlighting these three areas. So, please come back and visit our blog on Thursday and Friday to learn more about Canada, and the wonderful photographic opportunities that it has to offer.
Today we want to discuss the Boreal Forest
Canada's boreal forest comprises about one third of the circumpolar boreal forest that rings the Northern Hemisphere, mostly north of the 50th parallel. Other countries with boreal forest, also called taiga, include Russia, which contains the majority, and the Scandinavian and Nordic countries (e.g. Sweden, Finland, and Norway). The boreal region in Canada covers almost 60% of the country’s land area. The Canadian boreal region spans the landscape from the most easterly part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to the border between the far northern Yukon and Alaska. The area is dominated by coniferous forests, particularly spruce, interspersed with vast wetlands, mostly bogs and fens. The boreal region of Canada includes eight Eco-zones. While the biodiversity of regions varies, each Eco-zone has a characteristic native flora and fauna.
The Canadian boreal region represents a tract of land over 1,000 kilometers wide separating the tundra in the north and temperate rain forest and deciduous woodlands that predominate in the most southerly and westerly parts of Canada. Canada's boreal forest is also considered to be the largest intact forest on earth, with around 3 million square kilometers still undisturbed by roads, cities and industrial development. Its high level of intactness has made the forest a particular focus of environmentalists and conservation scientists who view the untouched regions of the forest as an opportunity for large-scale conservation that would otherwise be impractical in other parts of the world.
The boreal region contains about 14% of Canada’s population. With its sheer vastness and forest cover, the boreal makes an important contribution to the rural and aboriginal economies of Canada, primarily through resource industries, recreation, hunting, fishing and eco-tourism. Hundreds of cities and towns within its territory derive at least 20% of their economic activity from the forest, mainly from industries like forest products, mining, oil and gas and tourism. The boreal forest also plays an iconic role in Canada’s history, economic and social development and the arts.
The Canadian boreal forest in its current form began to emerge with the end of the last Ice Age. With the retreat of the Wisconsin Ice Sheet 10,000 years ago, spruce and northern pine migrated northward and were followed thousands of years later by fir and birch. About 5000 years ago, the Canadian boreal began to resemble what it is today in terms of species composition and biodiversity.
Canada’s boreal landscape contains more lakes and rivers than any comparably sized landmass on earth. It has been estimated that the boreal region contains over 1.5 million lakes with a minimum surface area of 40,000 square meters as well as some of Canada’s largest lakes. Soft water lakes predominate in central and eastern Canada and hard water lakes predominate in Western Canada. Most large boreal lakes have cold water species of fish like trout and whitefish, while in warmer waters, species may include northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass.
The boreal forest also has vast areas of wetland, particularly bogs and fens. Two wetland areas, the Hudson Bay Lowland and the Mackenzie River basin, are among the ten largest wetlands in the world. The boreal forest wetlands provide wildlife habitat (particularly for migratory birds), they maintain water flow in rivers, and they store significant amounts of carbon that otherwise would be released to the atmosphere.
There may be as many as five billion land birds, including resident and migratory species. The Canadian boreal region contains the largest area of wetlands of any ecosystem of the world, serving as breeding ground for over 12 million water birds and millions of land birds, the latter including species as Canada goose, common loon, great blue heron, numerous hawks, owls and ducks, ruffed and spruce grouse, belted kingfisher, gray jay, robin and other thrushes, black-capped and boreal chickadees, several nuthatches, vireos and grosbeaks, as well as many species of warblers and sparrows, hummingbirds, woodpeckers and passerines (or perching birds, often referred to as songbirds). It is estimated that the avian population of the boreal represents 60% of the land birds in all of Canada and almost 30% of all land birds in the United States and Canada combined
Prominent mammals in the forest include moose, caribou, deer. black bear, wolf, beaver, muskrat, varying hare, red squirrel, deer mouse, and red-backed vole.
In 2016 and 2017 we will be headed back to photograph these animals and this captivating region. Please check out our tours and workshops. You can find these tours and workshops here on our Canadian Workshop and Tour page here... http://northof49photography.com/photo-workshops/