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 — and can measure up to thousands of square kilometres in size.
They can also be classified as ecoregions, which form the basis of our conservation planning at the highest level: our conservation blueprints.
Here’s how we develop our conservation blueprints, using the conservation process:
Our conservation blueprints are assessments of Canada’s southern ecoregions; those areas where the biodiversity is greatest, but so is the threat. Each conservation blueprint seeks to prioritize a set of areas that, if conserved, could collectively 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 — the foundation of our conservation planning work at the ecoregion level.
Out of the large portfolio of sites that are listed in the conservation blueprints, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) staff identify the areas that present the best opportunities for NCC and our partners to make a difference. These sites are called natural areas, and are where we plan our conservation actions on the ground.
To ensure our conservation blueprints are effective, they 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, and how well the current state of conservation is doing by comparison.