Boreal Shield Ecozone
The largest ecozone, the Boreal Shield, extends in a broad, U-shape from northern Saskatchewan to Newfoundland. There are vast stretches of trees, lakes and rivers, and bedrock exposures. This ecozone has been largely opened up by transportation systems, but it still provides scenic wilderness sites.
The climate in this ecozone can be classified as continental with long cold winters and short warm summers. It is modified by maritime conditions along the coasts of Atlantic Canada. The mean annual temperature varies from -4°C in northern Saskatchewan to 5.5°C in the Avalon Peninsula. Mean summer temperatures range between 11°C to 15°C but may vary from this in a few areas in Labrador and western Newfoundland. Mean winter temperatures vary from -20.5°C in the west to -1°C in the east. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 400 mm in northern Saskatchewan to 1000 mm in eastern Québec and Labrador. The maritime influence on Newfoundland produces precipitation level ranging from 900 mm to 1600 mm.
Forest covers more than three-quarters of this ecozone. Conifers, including balsam fir, white spruce, black spruce, and tamarack, are widely distributed. Broadleaf trees, such as white birch, trembling aspen, and balsam poplar, and needle-leaf trees, such as white, red, and jack pine, are found in the south. Lichens and shrubs are common on areas of exposed bedrock.
The topography is comprised of broadly rolling uplands along with wetlands. Bedrock outcrops are composed mainly of ancient granite. There are numerous landforms and features associated with the last glaciation such as eskers and moraines. The landscape is dotted with many lakes of varying sizes. Peatlands are common type of wetland found in this ecozone, being particularly extensive in Newfoundland, central Manitoba, and northwest Ontario.
This ecozone is represented by various types of mammals including black bear, lynx, marten, woodland caribou, moose, raccoon, eastern chipmunk, white-tailed deer, fisher, striped skunk, and bobcat. Some common birds include blue jay, warbler, owl, and loon.
There are a wide variety of human activities in this ecozone, based mainly on the rich natural resource base. The primary activities include mining, forestry, hydroelectricity, hunting, trapping, fishing, water-oriented recreation and tourism. Agriculture is important in areas where soil and climatic are suitable. The service sector, public administration, and wholesale and retail sectors provide the majority of employment opportunities.