Ecosystem Classification Program

What is the NWT Ecosystem Classification Program?

Northern landscapes, with their vast forests, numerous wetlands, bogs, lakes and rivers, play an important role in enhancing our environment by producing clean air and clean water. These landscapes can be grouped and described as smaller ecological regions or ecoregions by using several physical characteristics at a variety of scales.

The Northwest Territories (NWT) is developing an ecologically-based landscape classification for environmental assessment, cumulative effects management, biodiversity monitoring and reporting, forest resource analysis and planning, wildlife habitat evaluation and conservation, and protected areas identification.

What does it include?

The NWT Ecosystem Classification Program recognizes the need to obtain an updated and more relevant ecosystem classification to reflect best current information and analytic techniques and to better manage natural resources in the NWT.

Ecosystem classification revisions and mapping have been completed for five regions of the NWT: Taiga Plains; Taiga Shield; Cordillera; Southern Arctic; and, Northern Arctic.

Ecological classification and mapping for the NWT are presented within an ecoregion framework for continental North America.  It includes four levels, from very large level I ecoregions representing ecosystems of global extent (biomes) to relatively small level IV ecoregions covering only a few hundred square kilometres.

Under the revised ecosystem classification, the NWT will include three level I ecoregions, nine level II ecoregions, 18 level III ecoregions and up to 150 level IV ecoregions.

Status

Ecosystem classification revisions and mapping of the last ecoregion for the Arctic Islands is being finalized. It will complete the entire ecosystem classification series for the NWT.

Resources

Maps

These maps identify the ecological regions in five ecozones in the Northwest Territories: 

Reports

Five ecosystem classification reports have been completed for the NWT. These are:

Posters

Posters have been developed to highlight ecoregions in five ecozones in the NWT. The posters provide basic information on size, landscape, vegetation and wildlife found in each ecoregion.