Content provided by: David Yetman, Program Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation Program, Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Economic Development Association
A diverse natural environment for you to discover

"Dear land of mountains, woods and snow, Our Labrador, Our Labrador" is the first and perhaps most famous line of Labrador's patriotic anthem. Dr. Harry Paddon wrote the famous Ode1 in 1927 reflecting Labradorians proud and relentless connection to their homeland. It explains very little detail of Labrador's rugged and sometimes relentless environment. However it echoes, in a general sense, the simplistic view of the Labrador terrain, the unequivocal connection of its people to their land and the defining images that come to mind when we speak the word Labrador.
The word environment means different things to different people. The first image that comes to mind for most Labrador people when they hear the word environment is resources, Voiseys Bay and its abundant nickel, Churchill Falls and its powerful waters and Coastal Labrador and its sea of riches. Naturally since these resources have nourished the lives of Labradorians for centuries. Scientists on the other hand view the environment in physical and biological terms, as a combination of the abiotic (non-living) and biotic (living). Both views are correct, but which one is appropriate? In simple terms, when we think of the environment, we can think of a homemade Labrador quilt. A quilt is made from many pieces with different colors, shapes, and patterns or a mosaic of different pieces of cloth. In a similar way the environment is made from a mosaic of the abiotic and biotic; the biology, geology, geography and meteorology. In short we can think of the Labrador environment as a mixture of the people, land and climate.

Labrador, known by Labrador residents as the "Big Land", has an environment shaped by its geology, geographic position and closeness to the Labrador Current and Gulf Stream. Labrador is the most eastern landmass of the Great Canadian Shield and contains some of the most ancient rocks and unique flora known to mankind. Out of all that's known of Labrador, the one obvious feature spoken of by scientists and researchers, is that Labrador is an unexplored geological and biological treasure with mysteries abound.

When we think of Labrador we most often think of regions that exist within. This is the obvious choice of thinking because Western culture encourages us to think in terms of boundaries. We divide regions politically, we divide regions economically, we trace boundaries on maps to define communities, and we even define subconscious boundaries based on social culture, dividing Labrador in the North, Central and South. This is difficult to do ecologically since biological communities, most times, share no such defined boundary. Therefore, the easiest way to explain the environment in Labrador is to look at Dammans ecoregions of Labrador2.

Labrador is divided into twelve eco-regions2,4 classified in the early 1980s by the well known ecologist W.W.H. Damman2,3. The regions are divided based on characteristics of climate, species type, geology, landscape, and soil type. Although somewhat complex to understand, the underlying principle sets out to describe the differences within Labrador based on these characters. For example the Labrador landscape ranges from the majestic Torngat Mountains in the North to the low lying eskers and river terraces of the Southern Straits. The wildlife varies from the worlds largest migrating caribou herd in Central to the engangered wolverine population in the East. The flora ranges from dwarf black spruce near Voisey's Bay to the beautiful and endangered Fernald's Milkvetch in the Labrador Straits.

Common to most, it is the sometimes subtle differences that distinguish Labrador's environment.

Interested in knowing more? Your moments away from exploring the unique environment of Labrador. But remember this is only the tip of the iceberg, to get a real sense of environment you have to be here. Where will you be this year...?
  3. Damman, A.W.H. An Ecological Subdivision of the Island of Newfoundland. In: G.R.
    South (ed.), Biogeography and Ecology of the Island of Newfoundland, Junk
    Publishers, The Hague. 1983.
  4. Meades, W.J., and Moores, L. 1989. Forest site classification manual. A field guide to the Damman Forest Types of Newfoundland. Newfoundland and Labrador Region, Forestry Canada and Newfoundland Dept. Forestry and Agric., St. John's. 366 pp.
  • Mosaic: a mixture; composite; as in a pattern.
  • Great Canadian Shield: A plateau region of eastern Canada extending from the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River northward to the Arctic Ocean. The highland formation also covers much of Greenland and forms the Adirondack Mountains in the United States.
  • Biotic: the living or biological components of environment for example, animals.
  • Abiotic: the non-living or physical components of environment, for example, weather.
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