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Northern Boreal Plains


Northern Boreal Plains


Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane
© Parks Canada

Whooping Cranes and Boreal Plains

A vast wild plain spread with bogs, forests, meandering streams and spongy muskeg that has changed little since long before the days of the fur traders. Some of Canada's largest rivers and lakes are found in this region.

THE LAND:

What makes this region stand out is that nothing in it does - at least in terms of topography. Lowlands, plains and plateaux, underlain by horizontal beds of sedimentary rock, give this region its typical subdued relief.

What does make this region stand out are the two huge lakes, Great Bear and Great Slave, on its eastern edge and Canada's largest river, the Mackenzie. Major tributaries of the Mackenzie - the Liard, Peace, Slave - and a network of smaller rivers and streams shape the character of this region with broad floodplains crisscrossed with meandering channels and oxbow lakes.

VEGETATION:

Although this region covers a vast range of latitude, spruce prevails throughout. In its northern reaches, open spruce forests with an understory of grey-green lichens provide winter range for caribou. Milder sites support dense forests of spruce mixed with balsam poplar, birch and aspen. In poorly drained sites, forests of black spruce and tamarack prevail - their shallow root systems spread wide in the thin layer of soggy soil. Vast treeless areas cover large parts of the region.

WILDLIFE

The wildlife of this region is remarkable for its impermanence. Vast numbers of migratory birds take advantage of the superabundance of food - especially insects - in the brief summer.

But the long, bitterly cold winters make this region a harsh environment for year-round residents. These include the muskrat, beaver, wolf, coyote, red fox, black and grizzly bear, lynx, moose, caribou and, of course, the bison.

Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park
© Parks Canada


National Parks System Plan, 3rd Edition

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