Our work in ecoregions
Caroline Gagne, Ottawa Valley project manager, doing telemetry research, Quebec (Photo by NCC)
Canada is a country of contrasts — from towering mountains, to vast sprawling prairies, moist wetlands and rugged coastlines to arid but productive alvars. These vast areas share distinct environmental factors, such as topology, climate and geology. They can measure up to thousands of square kilometres in size.
These large areas can also be classified as ecoregions. Ecoregions form the basis of our conservation planning at the highest level: our conservation blueprints.
Here’s how the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) develop its conservation blueprints:
Our conservation blueprints are assessments of Canada’s southern ecoregions. These are areas where the biodiversity is greatest, but so are the threats. Each conservation blueprint seeks to prioritize a set of areas that, if conserved, could sustain the biodiversity of the ecoregion.
The first step in this process is to work with local experts and academics to identify the rare or endangered species and habitats that are representative of an ecoregion, along with the threats to them.
Based on this information, we decide how much needs to be conserved to ensure these species’ and habitats’ long-term health. We then map all locations of these species and habitats and use a combination of computer modelling and the input of partners and experts to decide what sites need to be conserved to protect these targets.
These sites are listed in the conservation blueprint. These blueprints are the foundation of NCC's conservation planning work at the ecoregion level.
Out of the large portfolio of sites that are listed in the conservation blueprints, NCC staff identify the areas that present the best opportunities. These sites are called natural areas. This is where we plan our conservation actions on the ground.
Our conservation blueprints are shared widely with other conservation groups, communities and partners.
We also assess how well our final portfolio of identified sites has met the goals set out for each of our biodiversity targets. In turn, we compare the current state of conservation.