Alberta’s Wet Areas Mapping Initiative

By: Alberta Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

Alberta’s Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development actively pursues innovative solutions that balance economic, environmental and social concerns. Stewardship requires particular emphasis be placed on conservation of aquatic habitats and sensitive lands. The problem is traditional mapping of water in Alberta relies upon photo interpretation. But unseen, wet areas, soils that are sensitive to disturbance and small channels remain unknown to resource planners. The Department commenced on what has become a nine-year journey with researchers at the University of New Brunswick to develop functional datasets in a geographic information system that reveals both hydrological and soil features with amazing accuracy. Wet areas mapping has become a model of recognizing an innovation opportunity and moving good science through to a simple, robust, cost-effective tools with a growing array of applications. The initiative was never about making new regulations, it is about empowering Albertans by providing them with data to best achieve environmental excellence.