Canadian Forest Service Publications

Monitoring Canada’s forests. Part 2: National forest fragmentation and pattern. 2008. Wulder, M.A.; White, J.C.; Han, T.; Coops, N.C.; Cardille, J.A.; Holland, T.; Grills, D. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 34(6): 563-584.

Year: 2008

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 29348

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (download)


Canada is one of the world’s largest nations, with a land area of nearly one billion hectares. This vast area is home to a number of unique ecosystems, comprised of different climate, land cover, topography, and disturbance characteristics. Depiction of forest composition, based on satellite-derived land cover, is a common means to characterize and identify trends in forest conditions and land use. Forest pattern analyses that consider the size, distribution, and connectivity of forest patches can provide insights to land use, habitat, and biodiversity. In this communication, we present the pattern characteristics of Canada’s forests as determined by the Earth Observation for Sustainable Development of Forests (EOSD) product, a new land cover classification of the forested area of Canada. The EOSD product (EOSD LC 2000) represents conditions circa the year 2000, mapping each 25 m × 25 m pixel into one of 23 categories. We used the EOSD data to assess forest patterns nationally at four spatial extents: level 1, 13 000 km2 (corresponding to the area of a single 1:250 000 scale National Topographic System (NTS) map sheet); level 2, 800 km2 (corresponding to the area of a single 1:50 000 scale NTS map sheet); level 3, 1 km2; and level 4, 1 ha. For levels 1–3, a total of 95 landscape pattern metrics were calculated; for the 1 ha units, a subset of eight metrics were calculated. The results of this analysis indicate that Canada’s forest pattern varies by ecozone, with some ecozones characterized by large areas of contiguous forest (i.e., Boreal Shield, Atlantic Maritime, and Montane Cordillera), while other ecozones have less forest and are characterized by large numbers of small forest patches, reflecting the complex mosaic of land cover types present (Taiga Shield, Taiga Cordillera). Trends for the subset of metrics used to characterize national conditions are relatively consistent across levels 1-3. Level 4 metrics, where the analysis extent is 1 ha, are well-suited to regional or local analyses. As the first regional assessments of the patterns contained in the EOSD LC 2000, these measures of Canada’s forest landscape patterns add value to the national land cover baseline.

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