Lindsay Armstrong

Boreal Plains Ecozone

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The Boreal Plains ecozone is located in the centre of Alberta, extending east through Saskatchewan, northeastern British Columbia, southern Northwest Territories and slightly south of Manitoba. This ecozone is part of the Interior Plains region of Canada, and covers 650 000 square km of area.
In The Boreal Plains ecozone, relief varies from flat land to plains and gently rolling hills, usually found in the west. These plains were formed by continental glaciations in the Ice Age, which left glacial deposits behind. There are few lakes in this region, and outcrops are rare. The wetlands and rivers in this area have been damaged by pollution and human activity. Surface water comes from various water sources; mainly the Saskatchewan River, the Beaver River, and a few others. Deltas and dunes can also be found here, due to glacial activity.
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Rock Types and Minerals

Rich mineral deposits can be found in the Boreal Plains. Most minerals are found in thick soil deposits, which cover Cretaceous shale bedrock.

Vegetation and Soil
The average growing season in the Boreal Plains is 130-165 days long. It is a parkland that forms a transition between prairie grasslands and boreal forests, and can be characterized by forest cover such as groves, and small stands in moist areas like along riverbanks. Coniferous and deciduous forests can be found here. Examples of coniferous trees, found in the North, are White Spruce, Black Spruce, Balsam Fir, Jack Pine, and Tamarack, and deciduous vegetation includes Aspen, Poplar, Balsam, White Birch, Trembling Aspens, Manitoba Maples, and Eastern Cottonwoods, which are more commonly located in the South. The Saskatoon berry bush is also a commonly found plant. The region contains extensive marsh areas, and is rather bog-like, due to frequent forest fires. 84% of the Plains is covered by timber, with just 20% dedicated to agriculture.

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The climate of the Boreal Plains is a continental, mostly humid one. The Rocky Mountains block wind from the Pacific Ocean, which causes the winters to be long and cold (-20°degrees C), and the summers to be short and warm (17°C). On average, the region receives 450 mm of precipitation annually. The mean temperature is –2 – 2°C (13-15°C in the summer, and –17.5-11°C in the winter).

Area: 668, 664 square km
Population: 771, 205
GDP: $13.7 billion
Human Activity: Farming, tourism, mining, oil and gas development.
Major Urban Areas: Hinton, La Ronge, The Pas, Flin Flon, Peace River, Fort Smith

Fun Facts

- The Boreal Plains ecozone covers 7% of Canada
- The majority of the population lives in urban areas or is scattered in small communities

Test Questions
1. Name three human activities that commonly take place in the Boreal Plains ecozone
(Answer: farming, tourism, mining, oil/gas development)

2. The climate of the Boreal Plains ecozone is…
a) maritime
b) continental
c) tropical
d) polar
(Answer: Continental)
3. True of False: Does the Boreal Plains ecozone cover 10% of Canada?
(Answer: False. It covers 7%)

4. How were the plains and rolling hills in this ecozone formed?
(Answer: Glacial Actvity in the Ice Age)

5. What type of bedrock can be found in this ecozone?
(Answer: Cretaceous shale bedrock)
1. Clark, Bruce. Making Connections – Canada’s Geography. Toronto: Pearson Education, 2006.