Extent of Canada's Wetlands
Access PDF (306 KB)
Wetlands are among Earth's most productive ecosystems. They provide numerous ecosystem services and support many species (including species at risk) and significant numbers of migratory birds, fish and amphibians. They are also home to a wide diversity of plants, and many other species.
Canada has about 1.29 million km2 of wetlands, covering 13% of Canada's terrestrialFootnote  area. This is close to one quarter of the world's remaining wetlands.Footnote  Where wetlands have been monitored, they generally show declines in extent due to conversion to agriculture and other development.Footnote 
Most of Canada's wetlands occur in the Boreal Shield (25% of Canadian wetland area), Hudson Plains (21%) and Boreal Plains (18%). Wetlands form almost 80% of the Hudson Plains, and very low proportions of mountainous regions such as the Arctic Cordillera (less than 0.5%) and Montane Cordillera (less than 2%).
Wetland extent, Canada, circa 2000Footnote 
The map shows the proportion of wetlands across Canada. The Hudson Plains and the southwestern Boreal Forest have the highest proportion of wetlands, while Arctic, Cordilleran and Prairie regions have the lowest.
Data for this map
|Ecozone Label||Ecozone||Wetland area|
|Proportion of ecozone that is wetland|
|L02||Northern Arctic||48 877||3.4|
|L03||Southern Arctic||52 472||5.6|
|L04||Taiga Plains||138 737||25.0|
|L05||Taiga Shield||145 873||11.0|
|L06||Boreal Shield||320 778||16.9|
|L08||Mixedwood Plains||12 857||11.1|
|L09||Boreal Plains||235 938||30.3|
|L15||Hudson Plains||276 230||78.8|
|Total||1 290 187||12.9|
Note: The sum of the wetland area of the ecozones does not equal the overall total due to the generalization of boundaries at the national scale.
Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.04 KB)
Note: Mapped values are the proportion of wetland in each 25 km by 25 km grid cell.
Source: Canadian Wildlife Service, 2016.
Wetlands can be defined as "areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt."Footnote  Alternatively, a wetland can be defined by its function, as land that is saturated with water long enough to promote aquatic processes.Footnote  Many types of wetlands are included within these definitions, but familiar examples include bogs, fens, marshes, swamps, and ponds.
Wetlands are valuable ecosystems. They support a disproportionately high number of species and are often very productive. Wetlands provide a range of benefits to people. Such "ecosystem services," include purifying water and removing pollutants, buffering water flows during times of flood or drought, capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere, and providing places to watch wildlife and reconnect with the natural environment.
Access PDF (306 KB)
- Date modified: