Ecosystem Classification

What is NWT Ecosystem Classification?

Northern landscapes, with their vast forests, numerous wetlands, bogs, lakes and rivers, play an important role in enhancing our environment by producing clean air and clean water. These landscapes can be grouped and described as smaller ecological regions or ecoregions by using several physical characteristics at a variety of scales.

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is developing an ecologically-based landscape classification for environmental assessment, cumulative effects management, biodiversity monitoring and reporting, forest resource analysis and planning, wildlife habitat evaluation and conservation, and protected areas identification.

What's being done?

There is a need to develop an updated and more relevant ecosystem classification to reflect best current information and analytic techniques and to better manage natural resources in the Northwest Territories (NWT).

Ecosystem classification revisions and mapping have been completed for five regions of the NWT: Taiga Plains; Taiga Shield; Cordillera; Southern Arctic; and, Northern Arctic.

Ecological classification and mapping for the NWT are presented within an ecoregion framework for continental North America.  This framework includes four levels, from very large level I ecoregions representing ecosystems of global extent (biomes) to relatively small level IV ecoregions covering only a few hundred square kilometres.

Under the revised ecosystem classification, the NWT will include three level I ecoregions, nine level II ecoregions, 18 level III ecoregions and up to 150 level IV ecoregions.


Ecosystem classification revisions and mapping of the last ecoregion for the Arctic Islands is being finalized. This will complete the entire ecosystem classification series for the NWT.


Wildlife and Habitat Viewer

Use the NWT Species and Habitat Viewer to find ecosystem classification map layers and get custom reports on species found in an ecoregion, based on your location(s) of interest across the NWT.


These maps identify the ecological regions in five ecozones in the Northwest Territories: 


Five ecosystem classification reports have been completed for the NWT. These are:


Posters have been developed to highlight ecoregions in five ecozones in the NWT. The posters provide basic information on size, landscape, vegetation and wildlife found in each ecoregion.