GFWC Publications

Pipeline Infrastructure Bulletin: Numbers and Datasets Inconsistent and Incomplete

(2017-07-25)  Canada is a significant energy producer, with oil and gas accounting for approximately 7.3 percent of Canada’s GDP. In recent years, the construction of oil and gas pipelines has been particularly controversial for a variety of reasons including the risk of spills, wider concerns about climate change and other environmental impacts of fossil fuels, as well as increasing recognition of aboriginal rights and title to the land that pipelines cross. Global Forest Watch Canada examined the extent of the pipeline network in Canada and collected geospatial datasets of pipelines to assess whether the datasets qualify as open data and how comprehensive they appear to be. What we found was surprising.

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Report: Open Data Assessment of Geospatial Concession Datasets in Canada

(2017-05-30) Approximately 89% of Canada’s surface lands are public lands and the Crown also owns most sub-surface resources. In an era of open government and open data, Global Forest Watch Canada (GFWC) decided to assess whether Canadian federal, provincial and territorial government geospatial datasets of natural resource concessions are “open data.” We compiled and assessed the status of geospatial datasets for forestry, mining, and petroleum/natural gas concessions against the Open Data definition, which requires data be free to access, use, modify, and share. In this report, GFWC outlines the findings of our assessment.

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Bulletin: Time Series Analyses of Anthropogenic Disturbance in the Broadback River Watershed, Quebec

(2016-10-20) This bulletin presents the results of time series analyses of anthropogenic industrial disturbance in the Broadback River watershed in Quebec, as well as an area to the south and east. The results reveal a steady increase in both linear and area-based disturbances. Logging and associated road development are the most significant contributors to the cumulative growth of human impacts; however, there are still opportunities to ensure that further development is minimized in the watershed.

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Bulletins 2 & 3. Linear Disturbance in the Castle and Implications for Grizzly Bear and Trout

(2016-09-20) The second and third bulletins in this series on disturbance issues in the Castle Wilderness examine the length of linear disturbances and their density in the newly proposed parks. There was a total of 1,823 km of linear features (e.g. roads, trails, and transmission lines). The density of linear disturbances in the provincial park was 3.5 km/km2, while in the wildland provincial park it was just over 1 km/km2. Thresholds described in the scientific literature to maintain core habitat for grizzly bears are 0.6 km/km2 and 0.69 km/km2 for bull trout.  The third bulletin details findings of analyses regarding the density of disturbances in relation to grizzly bear habitat, as well as westslope cutthroat and trout habitat.

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Bulletin 1. Anthropogenic Disturbance and Intactness in the Castle

(2016-09-06) -  This is GFWC's first bulletin in a special series on the Castle Wilderness, which is currently proposed for protection. As input to the management planning process for the new protected areas, GFWC has conducted analysis to update disturbance and intactness information for this important ecological region. This first bulletin looks specifically at fragmentation in the area - and provides some analysis of the intact forest landscape fragments (IFLFs) that remain. 

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Canada's Intact Forest Landscapes Updated to 2013 (Bulletin)

(2016-07-05) Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) are the last remaining areas of forest and non-forest ecosystems that are at least 500 km2 in size and untouched by roads or other significant human activity. Canada, together with Russia and Brazil, contain 65% of all the world’s IFLs. But these pristine forests are becoming increasingly disturbed, and research shows that even without deforestation this degradation and fragmentation is enough to threaten biodiversity around the world. Global Forest Watch Canada (GFWC) has recently updated its IFL data to 2013, using the best available data, including Landsat satellite imagery and Environment Canada disturbance data.

GFWC found that:

  • Almost 5% (216,199 km2) of Canada’s IFLs were degraded or fragmented by human activity between 2000 and 2013. IFLs covered 4.5 million km2 of Canada in 2000 compared to 4.3 million km2 in 2013.
  • Four provinces—Quebec, Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia—accounted for 71% of the 216,199 kmof human disturbances. 
  • 11.7% (just over 500,000 km2) of IFLs were located within forestry tenures as of 2013.
  • 25.5% of Canada’s forestry tenures were covered by IFLs in 2013.
  • 17.5% (750,851 km2) of 2013 IFLs were located within interim and permanent protected areas. 

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Canada’s Boreal icon at risk: a ranking of the most threatened herd ranges of woodland caribou

(2014-12-11) Woodland caribou numbers are dropping because of habitat loss and high levels of predation by wolves, the result of vast changes in their herd ranges from a variety of development pressures. Now, thanks to a new study, we can for the first time systematically and accurately determine the rate of landscape change across all the range of woodland caribou and pin point where in the boreal forest these animals are most under threat. Our analysis clearly indicates the threat to boreal caribou is highest in Alberta.

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Forest Monitoring from Satellites in the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Region

(2014-11-12) For the Y2Y region, Global Forest Watch Canada conducted a “first-look” analysis of forest extent and forest change, both loss and gain, for the period 2000-2012. We performed this analysis for three reasons: (1) to demonstrate the utility of powerful, new, freely-available satellite-based technologies; (2) to begin monitoring the key forest ecosystems of the Y2Y region, an area that is the focus of one of the planet's leading conservation initiatives; (3) to contribute to strategic discussions regarding where to focus conservation energies and resources for the forests of the Y2Y region.

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Northern Alberta Conservation Atlas

(2014-09-03) Global Forest Watch Canada conducted a made-in-Alberta approach to the mapping and analysis of the conservation values of the boreal region of northern Alberta, an area comprising more than 2/3 of Alberta. We examined natural landscape features, wildlife and human disturbances and ranked the condition, diversity, ecological function and special features of the entire study area.

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Field validation exercise: testing the accuracy of a global forest change dataset

(2014-07-24) Global Forest Watch Canada conducted a field validation exercise to test the accuracy of the “forest gain” component of the new global dataset of forest change (High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change; see for two sites in a forested region of southwestern Alberta, Canada, known regionally as the Eastern Slopes. Our study warrants a close consideration of the dataset's use in the Canadian context.

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