Canadian Forest Service Publications

Representative Landscapes in the Forested Area of Canada. 2012. Cardille, J.A.; White, J.C.; Wulder, M.A.; Holland, T. Environmental Management 49: 163-173.

Year: 2012

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32932

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/s00267-011-9785-2

† This site may require a fee

Mark record


Canada is a large nation with forested ecosystems that occupy over 60% of the national land base, and knowledge of the patterns of Canada’s land cover is important to proper environmental management of this vast resource. To this end, a circa 2000 Landsat-derived land cover map of the forested ecosystems of Canada has created a new window into understanding the composition and configuration of land cover patterns in forested Canada. Strategies for summarizing such large expanses of land cover are increasingly important, as land managers work to study and preserve distinctive areas, as well as to identify representative examples of current land-cover and land-use assemblages. Meanwhile, the development of extremely efficient clustering algorithms has become increasingly important in the world of computer science, in which billions of pieces of information on the internet are continually sifted for meaning for a vast variety of applications. One recently developed clustering algorithm quickly groups large numbers of items of any type in a given data set while simultaneously selecting a representative—or “exemplar”—from each cluster. In this context, the availability of both advanced data processing methods and a nationally available set of landscape metrics presents an opportunity to identify sets of representative landscapes to better understand landscape pattern, variation, and distribution across the forested area of Canada. In this research, we first identify and provide context for a small, interpretable set of exemplar landscapes that objectively represent land cover in each of Canada’s ten forested ecozones. Then, we demonstrate how this approach can be used to identify flagship and satellite long-term study areas inside and outside protected areas in the province of Ontario. These applications aid our understanding of Canada’s forest while augmenting its management toolbox, and may signal a broad range of applications for this versatile approach.