The goal of Manitoba’s Protected Areas Initiative is to create a network of protected lands that represents the biodiversity in each of Manitoba’s 16 ecoregions. So how do we know where to capture the biodiversity? We use something called enduring features.
Enduring Features are a collection of landscape types, each characterized by a unique combination of soils and surficial geology (landforms).
All biological organisms share a connection to the landscapes in which they are found. Unlike plants and animals, soils and landforms are more stable and endure over geologic time. When an ecological process such as fire passes through an area, the area’s biodiversity is temporarily changed. However, there is potential for the area to return to its previous state because the soils and landforms remain. As a result, it is much easier to define these somewhat more permanent enduring features than to identify the complex biodiversity occupying a given site over time as natural ecological processes such as succession occur.
“Representation” is the term used to describe the proportion of each enduring feature that is protected within an ecoregion, and the confidence that ecological integrity is likely to be maintained over time. Representation is assessed as adequate, moderate, partial, or not captured.
The Protected Areas Initiative routinely conducts a gap analysis to evaluate representation as we undertake protected areas planning on a regional basis. The representation map of Manitoba's enduring features gives an indication of where the job of establishing protected areas is complete and where more work needs to be done. The degree to which Manitoba's enduring features are adequately, moderately, partially, and not represented is shown in our Ecoregion Representation map.
Although there is still work to be done before the network of protected areas within Manitoba is complete, the Protected Areas Initiative has made significant progress towards the goal of representing the biodiversity across Manitoba.
*For the 2013 reporting year, Manitoba will begin reporting on the level of representation in its protected areas network by ecoregion rather than by natural region to match reporting criteria used across Canada.