Forest cover map

Natural Resources Canada, with assistance from the Canadian Space Agency and in collaboration with the provinces, territories and other federal agencies, has produced a unique cross-country map detailing Canada’s forested land cover.

EOSD land cover map of Quebec, 23-class version. Image: CFS and ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Québec

EOSD land cover map of Quebec, 23-class version. Image: CFS and ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Québec

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Generated from Landsat satellite data, the Earth Observation for Sustainable Development of Forests (EOSD) forest cover map consists of 610 segments, or tiles, each representing an area of about 15,000 square kilometres. The tiles detail 21 land cover classes as they existed in about 2000.

The EOSD team used all of the Landsat images that intersect with Canada’s forested ecozones, which cover about 60 percent of the country. About 80 percent of the country was mapped, and all land cover types found in those images were classified, including forest cover.

At 25-metre resolution, the tiles represent the highest spatial resolution satellite-derived map data available for the total area of Canada covered. The tiles are based on Canada’s national topographic system mapsheet framework, and follow the spatial framework and nomenclature of the existing 1:250,000 map series, allowing for simple integration with other spatial datasets.

How the land cover map will be used

The EOSD land cover map was developed primarily to support Canada’s national and international reporting requirements for sustainable forest management and biomass, including the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ Criteria and Indicators, the State of Canada’s Forests annual report, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Meeting those commitments requires that the composition, distribution, structure and dynamics of Canada’s forests be quantified over time.

The tiles will be used to provide information for biomass estimates, for climate change modelling, and for Canada's National Forest Inventory—particularly for northern forest regions where there are few ground or photo plots, and land cover classifications have been based on limited information.

However, the map can also be used to generate other information. For example, researchers are using the tiles to help them assess Canada’s biodiversity in support of other national and international commitments: Canada’s Species at Risk Act, 2003, and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. The EOSD map will help the researchers establish a baseline of habitat fragmentation for various species in Canada.

The 610 tiles can be downloaded from the Internet for a wide range of uses. The downloaded tiles can be pieced together without losing data integrity or information. Researchers can then use that information in their own landscape and land cover studies—either as is or as source information to generate their own value-added products.