Human activities can leave landscape features that are present for a long time. These can impact the natural environment in many ways. Linear features such as roads, power transmission lines, seismic lines and pipelines create new corridors that influence human and animal movement patterns.
Permanent features are expected to remain noticeable on the landscape into the foreseeable future, although they could be reclaimed.
Semi-permanent features are usually those that are maintained by humans on the landscape. This category includes features such as roads, power transmission lines, pipelines, power dams, and land used for agriculture.
Temporary features can remain noticeable for some time, but are not maintained by humans, and are generally left to natural regeneration. They including seismic lines and commercial forest harvesting areas. Depending on the type of vegetation impacted, some areas return to their previous vegetation type quickly, and others take a longtime to regenerate.
Compared to jurisdictions in southern Canada, human-caused landscape changes in the Northwest Territories (NWT) have been relatively small, but still are measurable. As more infrastructure and renewable and non-renewable resources are developed in the NWT, management agencies are increasing capacity to monitor cumulative impacts. Many organizations, including all levels of government, Aboriginal communities and organizations, and industry are working together to develop coordinated mechanisms for tracking and reporting on landscape changes. Landscape changes not due to human activities, such as changes caused by climate and most forest fires, are found in the other focal points Climate and Weather, Vegetation, and Permafrost.