MB Rangeland & Pasture Health Initiative:
Rangeland Classification - Ecoregions & Ecosites
For using the Manitoba Range and Pasture Health Assessment Method for grasslands, and for interpreting the Manitoba’s Rangeland Plant Communities Guides, you need to know your location’s potential growing conditions, as defined by ecological site characteristics (i.e. “Ecoregions” and “Ecosites”). In 2014, a report entitled Rangeland Classification for Agri-Manitoba was released by the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association and partners. The purpose of this report was to divide Manitoba’s grazing land into coarse and fine units based on climate, soils, topography, access to soil moisture, rooting depth, salinity, calcareousness, and past excavation or tillage.
The 9 rangeland ecoregions of agri-Manitoba are based on provincial-scale climatic patterns and major geological landforms. Growing conditions are warm and dry in the Aspen Parkland, compared with cool and moist in the Interlake Plain. Elevation also makes conditions cooler and moister, like in the Southwest Manitoba Uplands (including Pembina Hills and Turtle Mountains). The most favourable conditions for productivity are in the Tallgrass Prairie, which has the warmest temperatures and adequate precipitation. Click here for a Rangeland Ecoregion PDF map or GIS data.
The 21 ecosites are based directly on multiple soil qualities from the Manitoba Soil Survey. Examples are Dune, Loam, Moist Saline, Eroded Slopes, and Wet Meadow. Different ecosites support different kinds of vegetation, and have different levels of forage production. For example, you can’t expect the same productivity or types of grasses on Sand as on Moist Sand or Loam. Maps and GIS data can be downloaded from the table below (only areas west of the Manitoba escarpment are available at this time).
Interpreting the Maps
The maps and GIS data provided on this page are good for starting to figure out what rangeland ecoregions and ecosites may exist in your location, but ultimately you will have to look at the land yourself (e.g. the shape of the land, proximity to ground water, and the texture of the soil). Pages 14-18 of the Rangeland Classification for Agri-Manitoba tell you what to look for in the field for classifying your site correctly.
PDFs are constructed for individual rural municipalities but filed into groups for easier handling. Download the compressed folder for the desired area to your desktop and then extract all files. Pick and view the RM that you are interested in. The PDF maps are designed for 11” x 17” colour printing. They are only available for the Aspen Parkland, Southwest Manitoba Uplands, or Assiniboine Delta rangeland ecoregions.
The ecosite PDFs here are limited by amount of information you can put on a page, and by the amount of detail provided in Manitoba Soil Survey mapping data. Thus, the printable PDFs will only show the 1 ecosite that is most likely to be encountered (covering 40-100%) in an area, even if the Manitoba Soil Survey indicates up to 3 different types are possible.
GIS files are clustered into groups of rural municipalities for easier handling. Download the compressed folder for the desired area to your desktop and then extract all files. Use ArcGIS or other compatible software to view and manipulate the maps. A full GIS dataset for ecosites in all of agri-Manitoba is too large for posting here and only available directly from Mae Elsinger at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The GIS files will show all 3 possible ecosites identified in an area. If an ecosite occupies 10% or more of a polygon, it is identified in the dataset. Any uncommon ecosites will be overlooked as they are not supported by the Soil Survey data.
Southwest Rural Municipality
TwoBorders_North_GIS Mapping Data.zip
TwoBorders_South_GIS Mapping Data.zip
Brenda_Winchester_GIS Mapping Data
Grassland_Morton_GIS Mapping Data
Pembina West Rural Municipality
Pembina East Rural Municipality
Parkland North Rural Municipality
Parkland West Rural Municipality
Assiniboine-Delta Rural Municipality
NorthCypress_NorthNorfolk_GIS Mapping Data.zip
SouthCypress_Norfolk_Victoria_GIS Mapping Data.zip
Riding Mountain Rural Municipality
Brandon-Virden Rural Municipality