A Nationally Coherent Characterization and Quantification of Mountain Systems in Canada

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Much of Canada is covered by vast and diverse mountains, yet numerous fundamental aspects of Canadian mountain systems have yet to be systematically characterized and quantified in a nationally coherent manner. In response, we delineated mountain areas in Canada according to the Kapos et al definition of mountain areas (K1) and then developed a classification scheme that subdivides K1 into 10 major mountain regions within Canada. Using these boundaries, we conducted numerous geospatial analyses using ArcGIS Pro to advance understanding of the biogeography, people, and economic activities associated with mountains in Canada. By providing consistent and comparable information about mountain systems in the country, our results reveal the national and international importance of Canadian mountain systems across a range of environmental and social metrics. They also provide a foundation for the advancement of research, policy, and work on social issues related to mountains in Canada, all of which have been constrained to date by a lack of nationally coherent analytical frameworks and statistics. We conclude by acknowledging the provisional and culturally situated nature of our work and reflect on the need for more inclusive approaches to designing and interpreting analyses aimed at advancing understanding of mountain systems.

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