An ecozone is a very large area of land and water that is characterized by bedrock that differs in origin and chemistry from the bedrock areas next to it.
The Far North of Ontario is a landscape within two ecozones: the Hudson Bay Lowlands and the Boreal Shield.
The Hudson Bay Lowlands area in Ontario is approximately 245,000 square kilometres, of which two-thirds is classified as peatland. This is the second largest area of contiguous peatland in the world. The wetland-dominated landscape also includes extensive shallow lake and pond systems, and several major river systems. The northern portions are similar to the Arctic with permafrost and tundra vegetation. Further south within this ecozone, open boreal forest (spruce-lichen woodland and taiga) are present.
This ecozone is home to polar bears and shore birds such as tundra swans that use this area for breeding. Immediately off-shore in Hudson Bay, beluga whales are often found. Woodland caribou are widespread, and arctic species such as arctic fox inhabit the area.
The Boreal Shield ecozone comprises a substantial portion of Ontario’s boreal forest and is dominated by black spruce and Jack pine tree species. Mixed stands of other conifer species (e.g., balsam fir) and poplar or birch species are also present. Lakes and wetlands characterize this ecozone. Animals typically found in the boreal forest are present here, such as gray wolf, American black bear, North American river otter, wolverine, beaver and woodland caribou.