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Ecoregion profile: Lake Erie Lowland

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Giuseppe Filoso and Hugo Larocque, Environment Accounts and Statistics Division

The Lake Erie Lowland ecoregion (Map 1) is one of Canada’s 194 ecoregions. It covers a total area of approximately 24,000 square kilometres and extends from the city of Toronto in the East to the city of Windsor in the west and contains the most southerly point of mainland Canada, Point Pelee.

Map 1 Lake Erie Lowland ecoregion

Due to its southern location the ecoregion has one of the most temperate climates in Canada, with warm, humid summers and mild winters. The climate, in conjunction with an abundance of level fertile soils, makes this ecoregion a major agricultural area.

In 2006, the Lake Erie Lowland was the most populated ecoregion in Canada with a population of approximately 7.3 million or about 23% of the Canadian population. Between 1971 and 2006 the Lake Erie Lowland experienced considerable population growth (61.6%). The population density of 305 persons per square kilometre in 2006 made it the second most densely populated ecoregion in Canada (Table 1) after the Lower Mainland ecoregion.1

Table 1 Lake Erie Lowland ecoregion

Within the ecoregion, the dominant land cover is cropland. Limited areas of mixed and deciduous forests on the Niagara Escarpment and developed land are the other significant land cover types (Chart 1 and Map 2).

Chart 1 Lake Erie Lowland ecoregion, by type of land cover, circa 2000

Map 2 Land cover, Lake Erie Lowland ecoregion, circa 2000

Between 1971 and 2006, farmland declined 9.7% to a total of 16,194 square kilometres, while the number of farms also declined by 43.7% to a total of 19,735. Declines were significant for the number of farms reporting tobacco (-82.3%), poultry (-77.2%), pigs (-88.0%) and cattle (-73.2%); although in some cases actual production increased, as is the case for poultry (20.0%) and pigs (67.5%) (Table 1).

Other agricultural sectors have seen an increase in the number of farms and area under cultivation. Farms reporting greenhouses increased 2.1% and those reporting nurseries increased 26.6%. More importantly the area being cultivated in greenhouses increased by 371.8% and in nurseries by 342.5% (Table 1). This is most likely due to the mild climate of the ecoregion, the amount of dependable land and the proximity to markets.


  1. D. Trant, H. Larocque and G. Filoso, 2009, “Ecoregion profile: Lower Mainland of British Columbia,” EnviroStats, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 16-002-X200900411031, Vol. 3, no. 4.