Canada’s intact forests: world’s largest!

Canadian Geographic has just released a short article that certainly begs the half-full-half-empty glass question, or, this case, forests. Over 90% of Canada’s intact* forest is boreal forest, making it, at 300 million hectares, the largest intact forest in the world. However, the same can’t be said for some the species-rich southern forests which have almost eliminated. And, sadly, Alberta has only 16% of it’s intact boreal forestremaining. So, much to celebrate, but also much to consider.

*intact = a forest area of 50 000ha or larger.

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100 Wild Islands, NS – great ecotourism potential

Spectacular, Caribbean-like vistas and clear water define this wild and little-known corner of Nova Scotia. But with increased media attention, and more and more people looking for unspoilt places to visit, hopefully the islands can have the proper safeguards in place to keep them natural.

100 Wild Islands website

CBC article: The secret Caribbean vistas right off Nova Scotia’s coast

CBC article: Nature trust ‘astounded’ by response to 100 Wild Islands campaign

Infographic: Canada’s protected areas

Canadian Geographic has just released an infographic updating Canada’s protected areas.

Canadians can be proud of our protected areas – national parks and many (but not all) provincial parks – but we still have a long ways to go! To date, our 7500 protected areas add up to 11.7% of our area BUT this is still far short of the UNEP target of 17% by 2020. We’re doing better at protecting land area, with 11.5% protected, but Great Lakes and marine areas have only 1.5% protected. Furthermore, some areas of the country, such as the Prairies and the lower Great Lakes region, are still very poorly represented. In a recent press release, though, the Government of Canada has “committed that at least 17 per cent of land and inland water will be conserved by 2020”.

Night Light Maps Open Up New Applications

Much has been written lately in the popular press regarding the new set of satellite images released by NASA showing Earth at Night. Few sources provide a clearer view of human settlement patterns contrasting heavily populated and industrialized areas with those less populated and/or less “plugged in”; while Europe and eastern North America gleam, much of Africa is dark despite its high population, although the Nile Valley and Delta sure stand out.

I particularly like the Earth at Night images for illustrating settlement patterns across Canada: high concentrations show up as the urban archipelago across the nation; there are regular, evenly-dispersed populations across the plainsfarmland of southwestern Ontario and, of course, the Prairies; mountain valleys in the west clearly show linear patterns as do the coastal margins of the Martimes and St. Lawrence and along with rail and road corridors across northern Ontario, while much of the rest of the Canadian Shield is dark except for randomly dispersed mining and logging settlements and First Nations’ communities.

I highly recommend spending a few minutes reading this article by the Earth Observatory, as it provides an insightful glimpse of the tech behind these wonderful images – ideal for anyone pursuing remote sensing.

Climate change causes glacial river in Yukon to change direction

from CBC News…

Glacier retreated so much that its meltwater switched course, in an event not documented in modern times.

Climate change has caused the massive Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Yukon to retreat so much that its meltwater abruptly switched direction, in the first documented case of “river piracy” in modern times.

Instead of flowing into the Slims River and then north to the Bering Sea, the water has changed course and now flows south toward the Kaskawulsh River, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean, scientists have found.  Read more…

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/climate-change-yukon-river-piracy-1.4070153

Improving Your Hallowe’en Haul

Trick or Treat DensityHere’s a take on statistics that will rot your teeth! CensusMapper.ca has created a series of maps that use census data to predict where the best neighbourhoods are for trick or treating tonight. Just visit the CensusMapper.ca Trick-or-Treat Density map, type your city or town into the Search field and away you go! There is also a slightly different version called Trick-or-Treat Onslaught.

It is nothing short of a brilliant implementation and thoughtful use of statistics and GIS (not to mention colour!) using the mapping API from Leaflet. Kids can use geography to predict candy haul based on the density of trick-or-treating-aged kids living in a neighbourhood. To quote CensusMapper.ca:

This map shows the number of children of prime trick-or-treating age as defined by Stats Canada per km². In plain terms, we map the percentage of children aged 5 to 14 per area.

CensusMapper Drill DownBe sure to click on a census area for a pop-up with more statistics. And if you are really keen, click on the “more…” button on the pop-up to graphically drill down into the data for that segment – very cool!

Even better, though, at least from an academic perspective, are the myriad other maps CensusMapper.ca has created:

and others that deal a range of topics from religion to young adults living at home. Each map is searchable by place name throughout Canada making comparisons between urban areas and rural and urban areas just a jew clicks away. While many of the topics are beyond Grade 9 Geography, they would be welcome for developing higher-order thinking and conceptualization in senior geography courses.

But in the meantime, hand this over to your kids so they can plan their route for tonight’s Hallowe’en outing. And, while they’re out, have them collect non-perishable food items on behalf of your local food bank and the national We Scare Hunger campaign.

Happy Hallowe’en!