The National Forest Inventory uses 12 of Canada’s 15 terrestrial ecozones as the basis for reporting on the extent, state, and sustainable development of Canada’s forests.
The Arctic ecozones—Arctic Cordillera, Northern Arctic, Southern Arctic—and the James Bay islands within the Hudson Plains ecozone are not inventoried because they are not forested.
An ecozone is an area of the Earth's surface representing large and very generalized ecological units characterized by interacting abiotic (non-living) and biotic (living) factors.
Canada has 20 ecozones—15 terrestrial and 5 marine. The 15 terrestrial ecozones are subdivided into 53 ecoprovinces, which can be further subdivided into 194 ecoregions. Ecozones place Canada’s ecosystems in a North American and global context, as they are linked to the ecological regions of North America and the global ecological zones of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
Ecozones, ecoprovinces and ecoregions are useful for reporting and planning purposes at national, provincial and regional levels. Regardless of its level in the hierarchy, each of these units is distinguished from the others by a unique interplay of geologic, climatic, vegetative, wildlife and human activity factors.