Saskatchewan incorporates 11 distinct ecoregions, each with its own ecological characteristics. Information on these ecoregions is available from the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre.
Chaplin Nature Centre was designated a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network site in May 1997. This is the highest designation possible. There are only 35 sites in the Western Hemisphere with only five of them being in Canada and only two of these are Hemispheric.
Chaplin Lake encompasses nearly 20 square miles (45,000 acres) and is the second largest saline water body in Canada. Shorebird surveys conducted by the Saskatchewan Wetlands Conservation Corporation and Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service revealed that over 30 species, with a peak count of 67,000 birds in a day using the lake. Over 50,000 Sanderlings or about 25-50% of their hemispheric population were counted in a single day in and around Chaplin Lake. This area is also one of the top four breeding areas in Saskatchewan for the Piping Plover, an endangered species whose principal breeding area is in Saskatchewan.
Grasslands National Park is the first national park of Canada to preserve a portion of the mixed prairie grasslands. Guided hikes, interpretive trails, bird watching, and nature photography are popular activities in Grasslands. The Grasslands includes the only colony of Prairie Dogs in Canada.
The Great Sand Hills (GSH) is unique and sensitive prairie ecosystem. It is rich in flora and fauna including endangered and rare species, and species unique to the sand hills ecosystems. The area contains one of the greatest concentrations of sand dunes in any populated area of the country. It is recognized as a nationally, provincially and locally significant natural area, and is a growing tourist attraction. All of the GSH area is believed to have potential for natural gas development. The Great Sand Hills Environmental Study was released in 2007.
For a century, Last Mountain Lake has been officially recognized as a special place for wildlife. It was the first federal bird sanctuary reserved in North America. More recently, Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area has been designated as a "Wetland of International Importance" along with 30 other sites in Canada and over 700 locations worldwide.
Two main factors contribute in attracting such a wealth of bird life to the area: its good habitats and its strategic location in the heart of the central flyway of North America. Last Mountain Lake is an important migratory stopover for hundreds of thousands of birds travelling across the Great Plains, between their northern breeding grounds and their southern wintering grounds.
Over 280 species of birds have been recorded at Last Mountain Lake during migration. Up to 50,000 cranes, 450,000 geese and several hundred thousand ducks may be observed when migration peaks. Although less conspicuous, scores of songbirds, shorebirds and birds of prey spend from a few days to a few weeks every year in the area. Birds travelling through at least 25 different countries, from the Arctic to Argentina, use Last Mountain Lake's rich habitats. See the IBA website.
Prince Albert National Park protects a slice of the boreal forest. It is also a meeting place or transition zone between the parkland and the northern forest. The park features many outstanding natural wonders and cultural treasures, including the only fully protected white pelican nesting colony in Canada, the isolated, lakeside cabin of conservationist Grey Owl and a free-ranging herd of plains bison. During a visit, enjoy special events and interpretive programs that help you make more connections with the patterns and processes of this ecosystem.
The Quill Lakes International Bird Area has been identified as a RAMSAR (The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971) site, a wetlands of international importance, and it is officially recognized as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Site (WHSRN), the second such designation in Canada. The other site is the Bay of Fundy.
To gain international status, a site has to host more than 1,090,000 shorebirds annually or 15 percent of a flyway population annually. This area attracts 34 species of shorebirds including the American Avocet, the Marbled Godwit, the Least Sandpiper, the Semi-palmated Sandpiper, the Red-necked Phalarope, the Stilt Sandpiper, the Hudsonian Godwit and the endangered Piping Plover. As well, the site is a staging area for 400,000 Ducks, 130,000 Snow Geese, 80,000 Canada Geese and 40,000 Sandhill Cranes. Middle Quill Lake, or Mud Lake, supports a colony of 400 White Pelicans.
The Quill Lakes area also provides habitat for several other endangered species including the Whooping Crane, Baird's Sparrow, Ferruginous Hawk and Peregrine Falcon. The reserve covers 40,000 acres including the largest salt lake in Canada, freshwater marshes, mixed grass prairie and aspen parkland.
Redberry Lake World Biosphere Reserve, including Redberry Lake and its watershed, was designated by the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a biosphere reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program January 21, 2000 in Paris. The designation formally recognized the region's commitment to the conservation of biological diversity, the pursuit of sustainable economic development and the creation of opportunities for education, research and experimental approaches to improved land management.
Saskatchewan provincial parks are a network of diverse recreational and protected, natural and cultural areas. The parks provide a variety of opportunities for the well being, inspiration, appreciation and benefits for all peoples.