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Sustainable Development

Sustainable development has been defined by the United Nations (UN) as development that “meets the needs of the present” while ensuring the future sustainability of the planet, its people and its resources. Meeting these needs often requires balancing three key features of sustainable development: environmental protection, economic growth and social inclusion. The goals of sustainable development are interconnected. The most successful sustainable development projects will include environmental, economic and social considerations in their final plan. These considerations must include the free, prior and informed consent of any Indigenous groups impacted by a sustainable development project.

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Permafrost

Permafrost is ground remaining at or below 0°C continuously for at least two years. About 50 per cent of Canada is underlain by permafrost, mainly in the Arctic Archipelago, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

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Natural Resources in Canada

Natural resources are aspects of the natural environment from which goods and services can be obtained and produced. They include air, sunlight, water, land, vegetation, animal life and geological resources. People can also value natural resources for their own sake or for their aesthetic qualities. Humans must manage natural resources to sustain the benefits they offer.

Canada is among the most resource-rich countries in the world. Its large and varied natural resources are essential to its economies and cultures. But there are ongoing debates about how to use, share and manage natural resources.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

This is the full-length entry about natural resources in Canada. For a plain-language summary, please see Natural Resources in Canada (Plain-Language Summary).

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Mantid

Mantids are carnivorous insects of the order Mantodea, known for their prayer-like posture. Mantids are most closely related to cockroaches and termites. There are about 2,400 species worldwide, most of which are found in the tropics. Only three species are found in Canada: the European mantis (Mantis religiosa), the Chinese mantid (Tenodera aridifolia) and the ground mantid (Litaneutriaminor). Of these three species only the ground mantid, found in southern British Columbia, is native.

Although mantis is sometimes used to refer to the entire group, most entomologists prefer to use that word for members of the genus Mantis.

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Turtle Island

For some Indigenous peoples, Turtle Island refers to the continent of North America. The name comes from various Indigenous oral histories that tell stories of a turtle that holds the world on its back. For some Indigenous peoples, the turtle is therefore considered an icon of life, and the story of Turtle Island consequently speaks to various spiritual and cultural beliefs.

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Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty is a key part of Canada’s history and future. The country has 162,000 km of Arctic coastline. Forty per cent of Canada’s landmass is in its three northern territories. Sovereignty over the area has become a national priority for Canadian governments in the 21st century. There has been growing international interest in the Arctic due to resource development, climate change, control of the Northwest Passage and access to transportation routes. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in 2008, “The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and Canada’s interests in it have never been greater.”

Article

Yellowjacket

Yellowjacket is the common name for wasps in the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. They belong to the insect family Vespidae in the order Hymenoptera, which also includes other types of wasps such as hornets, as well as bees and ants. Worldwide, there are about 50 recognized species of yellowjacket, 17 of which are native to Canada. These native species include the common (Vespula alascensis), Eastern (V. maculifrons), Western (V. pensylvanica) and aerial (Dolichovespula arenaria) yellowjacket. One species, the German yellowjacket (V. germanica), is introduced to Canada and is especially common in Ontario and Quebec.

List

Whale Species in Canada

Whale is the common name for large marine mammals of the order Cetartiodactyla (formerly Cetacea). They are subdivided into the Mysticeti, or baleen whales, and Odontoceti, or toothed whales. Smaller kinds of toothed whales are called dolphins or porpoises. Thirty-five whale species are found at least occasionally in Canadian waters — 9 species of baleen whales, and 26 species of toothed whales (mostly dolphins and porpoises). The commercial pursuit of whales was significant in early European exploration of Canada (see Whaling). Since the end of commercial whaling in Canada in 1972, whale watching has become popular. Whales found in Canada range in size from about 60 kg for the harbour porpoise to well over 100 tonnes for the blue whale, making it the largest animal ever known.

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Water

Worldwide, over two-thirds of precipitation falling on land surfaces is evaporated and transpired back into the atmosphere. In Canada less than 40% is evaporated and transpired; the remainder, called the water yield, enters into streamflow.

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Forest

Main Forest TypesWorldwide there are 3 main forest types related directly to climatic zones: equatorial- and tropical-region forests, temperate-zone forests, and forests associated with colder climates.

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Hurricane Hazel

Hurricane Hazel struck the Toronto area on 15-16 October 1954, with devastating results. It was Canada's worst hurricane and Toronto's worst natural disaster. During the storm, winds reached 124 km/h and over 200 millimetres of rain fell in just 24 hours. This horrific storm left 81 dead, nearly 1900 families homeless, and caused between $25 and $100 million in damages (modern-day cost has been estimated at over $1 billion).

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North-West Territories (1870–1905)

The North-West Territories was the first Canadian territory. It was Established on 15 July 1870. As a territory, the region became part of Canada. But it lacked the population, economic and infrastructure resources to attain provincial status. It thus fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government. It covered a vast area, stretching west from a disputed boundary with Labrador, across the northern portions of present-day Quebec and Ontario, through the Prairies to British Columbia, and north from the 49th parallel to the Arctic Ocean. The territory was subject to numerous boundary changes before 1905. At that time, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were carved out of the southwest portion of the region. In 1906, the remaining territory was renamed the Northwest Territories.

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Snake Species in Canada

A snake is a long, slender reptile of the suborder Serpentes, within the order Squamata (which also includes lizards). There are 25 species of snake currently found in Canada. In addition, one species, the timber rattlesnake, and one subspecies, the Pacific gophersnake, are extirpated. This means that, while they continue to live in other parts of their range, they are no longer found in Canada. Snake species in Canada belong to one of three taxonomic families: Boidae, Viperidae or Colubridae. Most species live in the southern part of the country; however, the common gartersnake can be found as far north as the 60th parallel, near Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.

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Common Gartersnake

The common gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is a relatively small, striped, non-venomous snake. It is one of the most widespread snake species in North America and its range extends farther north than any other North American snake. In Canada, it is found in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, and as far north as James Bay and into the southernmost Northwest Territories. The common gartersnake is broken into five subspecies across Canada: the Maritime gartersnake (Thamnophis s. pallidulus; PEI, NS, NB, QC), the Eastern gartersnake (Thamnophis s. sirtalis; QC, ON), the red-sided gartersnake (Thamnophis s. parietalis; ON, MB, SK, AB, BC, NWT), the valley gartersnake (Thamnophis s. fitchi; BC), and the Puget Sound gartersnake (Thamnophis s. pickeringii; BC).

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Reserves in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is home to at least 70 First Nations and various Métis communities. It contains 782 reserves, settlements and villages, many of which are located in the southern half of the province. Reserves in Saskatchewan were created between 1874 and 1906 by Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10. As of 2016, 47.5 per cent of the province’s 114,570 self-identified First Nations peoples live on reserves, a percentage comparable to the province of Manitoba. Most of the remaining 47 per cent who reside off-reserve in Saskatchewan live in the cities of Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.

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Physiographic Regions

Canada may be divided into seven physiographic regions. The Canadian Shield is the largest and oldest of these regions. The other six physiographic regions are younger and form two concentric rings around the Canadian Shield. The outer, older ring contains the Western Cordillera, Canadian Arctic and Appalachian Region. The second, younger ring contains the Interior Plains, Hudson Bay Lowlands and the St. Lawrence Lowlands. These regions may be further sub-divided based on their structure, relief and the presence or absence of permafrost and forest cover (see Natural Regions).

Areas quoted for these regions are the land areas and do not include adjacent continental shelves or bodies of ocean water within Canada's territorial limits. Readers should also note that the abbreviation “masl” stands for “metres above sea level.”

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Winter

Winter occurs as the Earth's axis tilts away from the sun during the planet's annual rotation. The portion of the Earth that is furthest from the sun experiences winter, with weather that is colder than the other seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter officially begins with the winter solstice, around 21 December, and ends at the spring equinox, around 21 March. Winter figures largely in Canada's climate, cultural experience and mythology. Every aspect of life in Canada is affected by winter, whether by heavy rains on the West Coast, isolation during the long Arctic winters, raging blizzards across the prairies or huge snowfalls in eastern Canada. Winter is reflected in Canadian art, literature, music, fashion, pastimes and attitudes.

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Glaciers in Canada

A glacier is a large mass of ice, formed at least in part on land, that shows evidence of present or past movement. It is formed by the compaction and recrystallization of snow into ice crystals and commonly also contains air, water and rock debris. With approximately 200,000 km2 of glacier coverage in the Arctic and the West, Canada is home to a significant percentage of the world’s glaciers. By 2100, however, scientists predict that those in Alberta and British Columbia will have lost 70 per cent of their 2005 volume due to climate change.

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Polar Bear

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the largest living species of bear. They are found throughout the circumpolar Arctic. In Canada, this means polar bears live in parts of the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba,Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. Polar bears are both culturally and economically significant to the Inuit. As climate change continues to reduce their sea ice habitat, polar bears are increasingly threatened.