Salt marshes in Canada

Release date: November 8, 2022
Infographic: Salt marshes in Canada
Description: Salt marshes in Canada

Salt marshes are a type of tidal wetland found along Canada’s coastline

They provide a variety of ecosystem services, including climate regulation, flood protection for coastal communities, and important habitat for wildlife.

In 2022, salt marshes were mapped across an estimated 9% of Canada's coastline. Some salt marshes are conserved by legislation or other measures.

Table 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 1. The information is grouped by Ocean (appearing as row headers), Known area , Known length and Conserved salt marsh, calculated using km2, km and percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ocean Known area Known length Conserved salt marsh
km2 km percentage
Pacific 809 7 33
Arctic 2,271 812 38
Atlantic 522 484 23
Total 3,602 1,304 34

Ecosystem condition and services

Salt marshes are vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise. Their health can be assessed using metrics such as:

  • pollution
  • vegetation density
  • tidal flooding

Salt marshes help regulate the global climate by removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it. Canadian salt marshes could be sequestering as much as 785 kilotonnes of carbon each year.

What is ecosystem accounting?

Work is underway to develop ecosystem accounts for Canada’s ecosystems as part of the Census of Environment.Note 1 These accounts provide measures of the extent, condition and services of ecosystems.

Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian System of Environmental–Economic Accounts – Ecosystem Accounts; Rabinowitz, T. R. M. and J. Andrews. 2022. “Valuing the salt marsh ecosystem: Developing ecosystem accounts,” Environment Accounts and Statistics Analytical and Technical Paper Series, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 16-001-M.

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