Canada is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life. From the temperate rainforests of British Columbia to the tundra of the Arctic, there is a great variety of habitats to be found in this country. While much of the vegetation in Canada is similar to that found in other parts of the world, some unique plants are found only in this country. Canadian species of animals include familiar and rare creatures, many of which are protected by law.
Are you able to name one tree found in Canada? If so, take a moment and then write down what that is. If you guessed sugar maples, specifically those that are located in the southeastern part of Canada, you would be correct. Sugar maples are used for furniture, maple syrup production, and leaf shapes in autumn.
The climate of the mid-north is much cooler than that of the Interior Plains. The cool, moist conditions create a forested boreal zone, while the warmer, dry areas are covered with mixed prairie vegetation. There’s little or no vegetation in areas near the Arctic region because of its cold, harsh conditions.
There are a lot of animals that live in these vegetated areas. There are mammals, such as moose, deer, and mink. The lakes and streams provide a perfect environment for beavers, loons, and geese to thrive. Polar bears, caribou with hooves that help them walk over snow, and ptarmigan (grouse) feel right at home in the arctic environment! Fish like puffins, seals, belugas, and salmon thrive in their northern water habitats too!
There are four main types of vegetation in Canada: forest, Grassland, Tundra, and Desert.
In addition to these major biomes, a variety of other less common ecosystems are found in Canada, including alpine tundra, riverine systems, and some coastal marine environments. The local climate strongly influences the vegetation of each region. The tundra is a cold, treeless biome where the average temperature is below freezing for at least part of the year. Tundra covers about 20% of Canada’s land surface. Despite the harsh conditions, various plants and animals have adapted to life in the tundra. The forest-tundra is a transition zone between the tundra and the boreal forest. It contains both trees and shrubs, as well as areas of open tundra. This biome makes up about 5% of Canada’s land surface. The boreal forest is a coniferous forest that encircles most of the northern part of the world. In Canada, it covers almost 60% of the land surface. The boreal forest is home to many animals, such as moose and caribou, as well as various birds and insects. The prairie (steppe) is an ecosystem found in grassland. The prairie is an ecosystem found in grassland biomes. Grassland ecosystems are characterized by their dominant vegetation, which is grass. The prairie is a grassland biome that occurs in temperate climates. This biome typically has hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The prairie’s soil is rich in nutrients, making it ideal for growing grasses.
Forests cover about 30% of Canada’s land surface. They are made of many trees, such as conifers (evergreens), deciduous (leaves that fall off in autumn), and mixed forests. The most common type of forest in Canada is the coniferous forest. These Forests are found in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Grasslands cover about 20% of Canada’s land surface. They are found in the Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) and parts of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. The grasses in these areas are usually short and include species such as fescue and bluegrass.
Tundra covers about 10% of Canada’s land surface. It is found in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, northern Quebec, northern Labrador, northern Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The ground is permanently frozen (permafrost), so there is little plant growth. The growing plants are primarily low-growing shrubs, mosses, lichens, and grasses.
Deserts cover about 1% of Canada’s land surface. They are found in southern Alberta, southeastern British Columbia, and southwestern Saskatchewan. The plants in these areas are adapted to dry conditions and include cacti, sagebrush, and grasses.
How to be friendly to nature in Canada
Our wildlife can be a novelty for first-time visitors to Canada, but it’s important not to disturb them. Yes, we have bears and moose and cougars and more bears here. Also, the less terrifying ones are chipmunks, raccoons (ugh, they are terrifying), and beavers. The problem is, you can’t tell which is which before getting close – so if you do see one on your travels, after all, the urge to get close could be hard to resist. But as cute as they may seem, please remember that our animals are still wild – some people get into trouble each year by mistaking Canada’s wild locals for pets and getting too close. Here’s how to experience the thrill of traveling through the wild without making enemies out there.
Keep your distance. Keeping a healthy distance from wildlife is essential because even if they’re cute or doing whatever you want them to be doing, they can quickly go south. Keep your appetizing smells in your bag, don’t get on any furry friends’ wrong side, and try not to have high expectations. You’ll save yourself some major harassment or literally risk your life.
Watch out for momma. When wildlife is involved, it’s always a good idea to be cognizant. For the most part, animals deserve respect. However, we want to make an exception for momma mammals protecting their cub or kitten. Be careful when you’re near them because their protective instincts are fierce. This is especially true during spring, when the baby season is most prevalent. If you see a baby animal and there isn’t another adult around, don’t worry too much- moms typically have eyes on them at all times.
Visit them at rescue centers. Wildlife rescue centers are located across Canada and open themselves up for visits to show visitors a more personal side to animal conservation. They provide care to injured and otherwise under-fed animals, typically with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. In these centers, visitors get the chance to meet some of Canada’s most majestic creatures, such as bison, cougars, lynx, and porcupines, in an up-close experience.
Don’t feed them. Avoid what people might expect you to do as an animal lover. Leave that steak or burger out in the bear country, teach your dog to catch a frisbee, or let any animal you care about eat human food. It’ll prove harmful and unpredictable for all involved – even dangerous. Not sure why; just don’t!
Clean up after yourself for once. One of the most important things you can do when enjoying nature is to pick up after yourself. Leave No Trace is a great philosophy that encourages us to take it easy on the planet and also to watch out for animals. For example, when you discard food into the woods, it can be all too appetizing to animal companions, and wrappers can become a wildlife trap in this scenario.
Keep driving. This one is huge, so let me repeat it. Just because other people are doing something doesn’t mean you have to. If you’re traveling along the Icefields Parkway in the summer, you’ll see crowds of people pulling over to see this kind of thing– a family of bears on the side of the road. These camps and animals bother park wardens because they can be dangerous and drive traffic crazy. Keep driving if you have to, but don’t stop your car and get out; stay in your car and go about your business.
Get to know them ahead of time. Before heading out, you’ve probably figured out that knowing everything you can about the Canadian wilderness is essential. Wikipedia is a great resource for pre-field research and includes helpful articles on elk, brown bears, and chipmunks. Wikipedia will give you insight into the rutting season and interesting conversation topics for your next date.
Hike safely. Safety on the trails isn’t just about wearing comfortable shoes and bringing adequate water. You should take extra precautions in a wild animal’s house. Wearing bells and making noise as you stroll is one way to assure animals know you’re around, making them happier than they would be if they were surprised. If they hear you coming – with bells on – it gives them time to move out of your way before you meet up with them. Also, if you cross paths with an animal, there are many reasons for what to do (and what to do depends on the type). For advice and tips about safety when hiking, see https://www.pc.gc.ca/en.
When the forest’s a-rockin’… As a general rule, there are a few times when you want to get too close to an animal—when it’s hungry or when it’s looking for action. Elk, for example, can be more aggressive during the fall mating season, which starts in October and goes until mid-December. If you see one near your property in the coming months, give it some privacy so that its instincts drive it toward finding love instead of aggression.
Did you know?
Canada’s 10 most iconic animals are Beaver, moose, polar bear, bison, southern resident killer whale, walrus, caribou, and Atlantic puffin. Learn more about them here.
The Most Interesting Plants In Canada are Fairy Slipper, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Palm Tree, Pawpaw Tree, Yellow Lady’s Slippers, Garry Oak Tree, Canada Columbine, Golden Larch, Cornelian Cherry, Arctic False Wildflower, Barrens Willow, Limber Pine, Butternut, Cucumber Tree, False Rue-Anemone. Learn more about them here.
In conclusion, Canada is home to a wide range of plant and animal life, from the temperate rainforests of British Columbia to the tundra of the Arctic. While much of the vegetation in Canada is similar to that found in other parts of the world, some unique plants are found only in this country. Canadian species of animals include familiar and rare creatures, many of which are protected by law.