Protected Areas

Manitoba's Protected Areas Initiative is a government program dedicated to working together with others to build a network of protected land, freshwater, and marine areas that contains the tremendous biological diversity and unique features found in Manitoba's varied landscapes.

Manitoba has a wealth of diverse landscapes ranging from rare grasslands to vast boreal forest, and rich wetlands to pristine arctic tundra. Our natural areas support complex communities of plants and animals. This biodiversity is essential for maintenance of healthy ecosystems, resources, and human well-being.

Manitoba's long term commitment to establish a network of protected areas began in 1990, when the province became the first jurisdiction in Canada to commit to protecting examples of all of its diverse landscapes. Since 1990, Manitoba's protected areas network has increased from 350,000 hectares to just over 7.1 million hectares today. Approximately 11% of Manitoba is protected.

What are protected areas?

What are protected areas?

Protected areas are precious places that feature natural or cultural values for Manitobans to enjoy. Through legal means, protected areas are set aside to maintain healthy natural ecosystems and are managed for the long-term conservation of nature. Protected areas are a fundamental cornerstone of Manitoba's sustainable future.

Manitoba's protected areas are land, freshwater or marine areas identified for biodiversity conservation where logging, mining, oil and gas exploration and development, hydroelectric development, exploring for and harvesting peat, and other activities that significantly and adversely affect habitat are legally prohibited. Existing rights of Indigenous people are respected in protected areas, which generally remain open to hunting, trapping, fishing, and other traditional uses.

The protected parts of the following designations are included in Manitoba's protected areas network:

Why are protected areas important?

Protected areas are a natural legacy for future generations. They provide us with many ecological, social, and economic benefits and promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. They are places for people to enjoy the wonder of exploration, and the peace and solitude of nature.

Protected areas are important for research and education. Manitoba's natural areas provide invaluable ecological goods and services such as clean air and water, flood control, and climate regulation. Protected areas are the surest, most economical way to protect diverse wildlife populations, maintain natural cycles, and safeguard pristine areas.

Representation

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.

Manitoba selects areas for protection through a scientific process based on sound ecological principles and criteria using scientific data, and local and Indigenous traditional knowledge. The goal is to have a protected areas network made up of well connected, high-quality, ecologically diverse sites that provides effective and permanent conservation for Manitoba's rich biodiversity.

To see a progression of ecoregion representation over time, view this page.

Establishment

Manitoba selects areas for protection through a scientific process based on sound ecological principles and criteria using scientific data, and local and Indigenous traditional knowledge. The goal is to have a protected areas network made up of well connected, high-quality, ecologically diverse sites that provides effective and permanent conservation for Manitoba's rich biodiversity.

Protected areas provide invaluable conservation benchmarks required to support sustainable resource management practices and will help give industry land base certainty to help ensure a prosperous future.

The planning and protection process provides opportunity for public input. The province works with Indigenous communities which is a cornerstone of the protected areas planning process. Industry and other stakeholder involvement allows for the sharing of information on potential developments and economic opportunities that are considered during the protected areas decision making process. These discussions help form a foundation of general agreement for protected area proposals by finding a balance between conservation needs and resource commitments ensuring our collective economic prosperity and ecological integrity.