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Coniferous Trees

Sometimes called evergreens, most coniferous trees keep their foliage year-round. There are over 600 living species of conifers, and while there is some debate over how many are native to Canada, the number is approximately 30.

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Maple Trees in Canada

Maples are trees and shrubs in the genus Acer, previously classified within the maple family Aceraceae, but now placed by some taxonomists in Sapindaceae (Soapberry family), which also includes horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastaneum). There are approximately 150 species of maple around the world, most in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and the majority native to eastern Asia. Ten maple species are native to Canada, perhaps the best known being sugar maple (Acer saccharum) of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. The Canadian flag displays a stylized maple leaf, and maple is Canada’s official arboreal emblem. Maples are not only important to Canada symbolically, they are also ecologically and economically significant.

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Trees

Trees are single-stemmed, perennial, woody plants taller than 3 m and exceeding 8 cm in diameter at breast height; shrubs are multistemmed and smaller. These definitions are somewhat arbitrary, since many species (eg, willow, alder, cherry, maple) can grow as trees or shrubs, depending on the environment. Counting the 30-odd shrubs that assume tree form under favourable conditions, there are about 140 native Canadian trees.

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Cedar

Cedar, in Canada, refers to evergreen conifers (genus Thuja) of the cypress family (Cupressaceae).

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Sweet Apple

The sweet apple (Malus pumila) is a cultivated species of the rose family and Canada's most important tree fruit crop.

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Crab Apple

Crab apple (genus Malus) is a deciduous tree that differs from the orchard apple in bearing smaller, often acidic or astringent fruits.

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Oak

The Oak (Quercus) is a genus of trees and shrubs of the beech family (Fagaceae). Of the estimated 200 species found worldwide, 75-80 occur in North America and 10 in Canada.

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Birch

Birch (Betula), genus of trees and shrubs of birch family (Betulaceae). About 50 species are found in Arctic and northern temperate regions worldwide

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Jay

Canada is home to three species of jay: the blue jay, Steller’s jay and grey jay.

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Marten

Marten (Martes americana), slender weasel specialized for life in the northern coniferous forests; found from Alaska and BC to Newfoundland and into the US.

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Butterfly

Butterfly, term referring to insects of order Lepidoptera [Gk "scaly wings"]. The Canadian fauna includes 272 known species, compared to 695 known from North America as a whole, and over 20 000 worldwide.

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Caribou

Caribou are members of the deer family. They may be further categorized based on where they live and how they behave. Caribou in Canada are generally categorized into three types: peary, barren-ground and woodland. Taken together, caribou are found in most Canadian provinces and territories, with the exception of the Maritimes.

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Plate Tectonics

Plate tectonics is the theory proposing that Earth’s outer rocky shell is divided into seven major and several smaller rigid plates. Forces generated by heat losses from the planet’s interior constantly move the plates about. Plate movements, ongoing over millions of years (see Geological History), open and close ocean basins, generate volcanoes, raise mountains, facilitate accumulation of mineral and petroleum deposits, and influence evolution and climate change. Friction between plates prevents steady motion and stores energy that is released in sudden movements, causing earthquakes.

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History of Settlement in the Canadian Prairies

The Canadian Prairies were peopled in six great waves of migration, spanning from prehistory to the present. The migration from Asia, about 13,300 years ago, produced an Indigenous population of 20,000 to 50,000 by about 1640. Between 1640 and 1840, several thousand European and Canadian fur traders arrived, followed by several hundred British immigrants. They created dozens of small outposts and a settlement in the Red River Colony, where the Métis became the largest part of the population. The third wave, from the 1840s to the 1890s, consisted mainly but not solely of Canadians of British heritage. The fourth and by far the largest wave was drawn from many nations, mostly European. It occurred from 1897 to 1929, with a pause (1914–22) during and after the First World War. The fifth wave, drawn from other Canadian provinces and from Europe and elsewhere, commenced in the late 1940s. It lasted through the 1960s. The sixth wave, beginning in the 1970s, drew especially upon peoples of the southern hemisphere. It has continued, with fluctuations, to the present. Throughout the last century, the region has also steadily lost residents, as a result of migration to other parts of Canada, to the United States, and elsewhere.

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Solar Energy

The energy contained in sunlight is the source of life on Earth. Humans can harness it to generate power for our activities without producing harmful pollutants. There are many methods of converting solar energy into more readily usable forms of energy such as heat or electricity. The technologies we use to convert solar energy have a relatively small impact on the environment. However, they each have disadvantages that have kept them from being widely adopted.

In Canada, the use of solar energy to generate electricity and heat is growing quickly and is helping reduce pollution related to energy production. Despite Canada’s cold climate and high latitudes (which get less direct sunlight than mid-latitudes), solar power technologies are used in many places, from household rooftops to large power plants. The Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) expects solar power to make up 3 per cent of Canada’s total electricity generation capacity by 2040.

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Floods in Canada

Floods are primarily caused by naturally occurring changes in the height of rivers, lakes and oceans. According to Public Safety Canada, floods are the most common natural hazard in the country and among the costliest. Historic floods have occurred across Canada, with many of the worst happening on major river systems that pass through populated areas. Scientists predict that flooding linked to the impacts of climate change will increase as the 21st century progresses, particularly in coastal areas of the country.

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Flatfish

Flatfish is the common name for fish belonging to the order Pleuronectiformes. There are 14 families of flatfish and over 800 species worldwide. In Canadian waters there are approximately 39 species of flatfish, from five families. These families are Pleuronectidae, Bothidae, Paralichthyidae, Scophthalmidae and Cynoglossidae. Familiar flatfishes found in Canada include halibut, plaice, flounder and turbot. Among their distinguishing features, flatfish have both eyes on one side of their body.

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Rat

 Rat is a common name for certain mammals of order Rodentia, family Muridae.

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National Parks of Canada

Canada’s national parks are protected areas established under federal legislation to preserve Canada’s natural heritage. They are administered by Parks Canada, a government agency that evolved from the world’s first national parks service, the Dominion Parks Branch, established in 1911. The National Parks System Plan, developed in 1970, divided Canada into 39 natural regions and set the goal of representing each region with at least one national park. Canada now has 48 national parks and national park reserves in 30 of these regions. In total, the parks cover more than 340,000 km2, which is over 3 per cent of Canada’s landmass. They protect important land and marine habitats, geographical features and sites of cultural significance. National parks also benefit local economies and the tourism industry in Canada.

(This is the full-length entry about National Parks of Canada. For a plain-language summary, please see National Parks of Canada (Plain-Language Summary).)

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Climate Change

Climate change occurs when long-term weather patterns begin to shift. These periods of change have occurred throughout the Earth’s history over extended periods of time. However, since the Industrial Revolution the world has been warming at an unprecedented rate. Because of this, the current period of climate change is often referred to as “global warming.” Human activities that release heat-trapping greenhouse gases, such as the burning of fossil fuels, are largely responsible for this increased rate of change. The implications of this global increase in temperature are potentially disastrous and include extreme weather events, rising sea levels and loss of habitat for plants, animals and humans. In Canada, efforts to mitigate climate change include phasing-out coal-fired power plants in Ontario and instituting a carbon tax in British Columbia.

(This is the full-length entry about climate change. For a plain-language summary, please see Climate Change (Plain-Language Summary).)