Technical Bulletin No. 0938: Synthesis of Technical Information on Forest Wetlands in Canada
The present total estimated wetland coverage in Canada is 1,240,368 km2 (Tarnocai 2001). The Canadian Wetland Classification System recognizes five major classes or types of wetlands: bogs, fens, marshes, swamps, and shallow open water. Wetlands can be broadly grouped into organic wetlands (also called peatlands) and mineral wetlands. Organic wetlands include fens and bogs, while mineral wetlands include swamps, marshes, and shallow open water. Both peatlands and mineral wetland classes have gradients in richness and wetness that produce a number of sub-classes (e.g., thicket swamp, conifer swamp etc.) within the five major classes. These classes and their ecological properties are discussed in detail. In addition, we supply a listing and brief review of classification systems used for wetlands across the country. Wetlands provide a range of ecological goods and services that contribute to the Canadian economy and our well being. These services include timber production, non-timber forest products such as peat moss, habitat for wildlife, water filtration, and carbon sequestration. Wetlands are also a critical component of the lifestyle and values of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
While federal, provincial and industry developed inventories exist throughout the country, it should be noted that the quality and extent of wetland inventories depend on mapping limitations (e.g., mapping scale, remote sensing limits), data availability, and inventory purposes; thus, records of wetlands can be incomplete. We provide a list of inventories and standards that exist for forest wetlands. An extensive body of Federal and Provincial legislation, policies and guidelines can affect wetland ecosystems. We review these in detail for Canada and each of the provinces individually.