UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A National Assessment of Wetland Status and Trends for Canada’s Forested Ecosystems Using 33 Years of Earth Observation Satellite Data Wulder, Michael A.; Li, Zhan; Campbell, Elizabeth M.; White, Joanne C.; Hobart, Geordie; Hermosilla, Txomin; Coops, Nicholas C.


Wetlands are important globally for supplying clean water and unique habitat, and for storing vast amounts of carbon and nutrients. The geographic extent and state of wetlands vary over time and represent a dynamic land condition rather than a permanent land cover state. Herein, we combined a time series of land cover maps derived from Landsat data at 30-m resolution to inform on spatial and temporal changes to non-treed and treed wetland extents over Canada’s forested ecosystems (>650 million ha) from 1984 to 2016. Overall, for the period, 1984 to 2016, we found the extent of wetlands (non-treed and treed combined) in Canada’s forested ecosystems to be stable, with some regional variability, often resulting from offsetting decreases and increases within a given ecozone. Notwithstanding difficulties in using optical satellite data for mapping a land condition, by accumulating wetland evidence via earth observations consistently through multiple decades, our results capture the trends in wetland cover over a previously unmapped, national extent at a level of spatial detail and temporal reach suitable for further focused interpretations of wetlands and drivers and projections of wetland dynamics.

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