Canada’s three territories cover almost 40 per cent of the country. Due to their subarctic and arctic climates and short summers, they have limited plant growth in many areas. The eastern parts contain tundra with permafrost. Some of the mountains in the North are permanently covered in ice. South of the treeline, particularly in Yukon and the Mackenzie River basin, grow vast, rich forests. Territorial parks and national parks conserve large forest areas. The territories support large populations of wildlife that are important sources of food and fur for local people, including Inuit and First Nation communities (see also Country Food).
The unique environments of the territories also offer opportunities for recreation and valuable scientific research.
Much of the North’s mineral deposits (especially those containing gold and uranium) have been developed. Its geology suggests significant potential for exploitation of oil, gas and glacier-sourced freshwater.