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Fragmentation regimes of Canada's forests

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Canada is a large nation, approximately 1 billion hectares in size, and until recently, no national assessment of forest fragmentation had been undertaken. To assess national level biodiversity and ecosystem condition, national drivers of forest fragmentation are identified as being either primarily natural (e.g., resulting from wildfires, water features, or topography), or primarily anthropogenic (e.g., resulting from urbanization or roads and associated activities such as forest harvesting and oil and gas exploration). The relative importance of each of these fragmentation drivers within Canada's ten forested ecozones, which occupy approximately 650 million ha, is assessed using ecozone summaries and standard scores. Forest pattern metrics were generated from a Landsat‐derived land cover product and fragmentation drivers were characterized using available national datasets. Through this analysis, we combine and portray the relative importance of forest patches with spatial layers indicative of natural and anthropogenically induced conditions as driving various fragmentation regimes over the forested area of Canada. The forest fragmentation in Canada can be characterized primarily by natural drivers, whereas fragmentation regimes attributable to anthropogenic drivers are typically regionally located and related to industrial activities and access (i.e., roads). We identify three scenarios in our results that characterize forest fragmentation in Canada: ecozones with similar forest patterns but different drivers; ecozones with similar patterns and drivers; and finally, ecozones with both different patterns and different drivers. Our findings indicate that national assessments of forest fragmentation should account for both natural (and inherent) and anthropogenic sources of fragmentation.

Language: English

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Pacific Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada 2: Integrated Remote Sensing Studio, Department of Forest Resources Management, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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