The northern forests of Canada, known as the boreal region, are a vast area with a unique assemblage of biodiversity. Canada is home to a large proportion of the world's boreal forest, which supplies an important function for carbon storage, and is home to unique species as well as the breeding grounds for hundred of migrant songbirds. Increasingly, the boreal region is under threat from external stressors such as climate change, as well as more immediate threats due to resource development (logging, mining, hydroelectric development) and recreational use. Conservation of species and their associated habitats in the boreal requires an understanding of species ecology. This includes an understanding of their specific habitat requirements as well as an understanding of ecological processes such as predator-prey relationships. Protected areas can facilitate biodiversity conservation, but only when appropriately implemented.
Research in landscape ecology that integrates Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with conservation questions will contribute significantly to biodiversity conservation in the boreal region and to our understanding of spatial dynamics of ecological processes and species-habitat interactions. Such research will contribute to better design of protected areas in order to conserve boreal species and ecosystems over the long term in the face of environmental change. This research program investigates the effects of human activity on biodiversity in the boreal region. It examines these issues at a large spatial scale, using principles from the field of Landscape Ecology, and tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), computer modelling, and fieldwork. It is anticipated that the research will lead to a clearer understanding of species-habitat dynamics in order to manage wildlife better and to design protected areas that will be effective contributors to biodiversity conservation in the boreal region of Canada.