Wetlands and Riparian Areas

Riparian Areas

Riparian areas are lush vegetation lands adjacent to streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other water bodies. These areas have vegetation and soils strongly influenced by the presence of water and are among the most productive and valuable of all landscape types.

The assessment of riparian health is done using the Riparian Health Assessment. This assessment was developed by the Rangeland Management Branch and the Cows and Fish Program, it provides tools to assess the general health of riparian areas on public rangelands but can be a useful tool to producers who manage land by waterbodies.

The following resources may be of use when managing lands adjacent to water:

Stepping Back from the Water Best Management Practices - Government of Alberta, 2017

Riparian Areas, Important Natural Assets - Government of Alberta, 2007

Riparian Best Management Practices for Invasive Plant Species, Sask Forage Council

Alberta Wetland Policy

The goal of the Alberta Wetland Policy is to conserve, restore, protect and manage Alberta's wetlands to sustain the benefits they provide to the environment, society and economy. To achieve this goal, the policy will focus on 4 outcomes:

  • wetlands of the highest value are protected for the long-term benefit of Albertans
  • wetlands and their benefits are conserved and restored in areas where losses have been high
  • wetlands are managed by avoiding, minimizing and if necessary, replacing lost wetland value
  • wetland management considers regional context

What this policy means to producers: 

Section taken from the 2015 Alberta Government Wetland Policy Implementation Agriculture Fact Sheet which is included below; "Landowners are able to develop their privately held land however they wish, provided they comply with local, provincial and federal legislation and policies. All water in Alberta is managed by the Crown and therefore is under provincial jurisdiction. Under the Water Act (Section 36), all activities impacting a water body require an Approval, including ephemeral water bodies (a shallow water body that temporarily contains water after spring snowmelt or a heavy rainfall and typically dries up within a matter of days to weeks). Agricultural activities may include infilling, modifications, alterations, and drainage (surface ditches, buried tile, buried slotted pipes) as well as maintenance thereof. "

Questions about the policy can be directed to: Email: aep.wetlands@gov.ab.ca

Agriculture Fact Sheet - Alberta Wetland Policy Implementation

Alberta Wetland Policy Implementation

Read the Alberta Wetland Policy

Factsheet - About the Alberta Wetland Policy, AB Gov.

Factsheet - Value of Wetlands, AB Gov.; Factsheet - Wetland Stewardship, AB Gov.

Factsheet - Assessing Wetlands in AB, AB Gov.; Wetland Rapid Evaluation Tool

Factsheet - Wetland Replacement Program. ; Alberta Replacement Program

A Brief Guide to Water Enforcement, Compliance, and the New 'One-Stop' Approval Process

Wetland Restoration Lease Program

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has a wetland restoration lease program which assists with the restoration of wetlands, the program is paid on a 10-year term, and pays 50% as an upfront payment and the remaining 50% is paid in a series of annual payments over ten years. The landowner retains ownership of the land and can manage it as they wish. This includes being able to hay or graze the wetland area. The restrictions of the program include; No drainage, No tillage, and No infilling of wetlands identified in the agreement as premises. DUC allows pumping off a wetland for livestock watering. 

For more information on the Ducks Unlimited Canada Wetland Restoration Program

Wetland Restoration Lease Program Frequently Asked Questions

Cows and Fish Resources

Visit the Cows and Fish Website Using This Link

Cows and Fish Factsheet - Riparian Health Assessment and Inventory

Cows and Fish -Riparian Demonstration Sites

Cows and Fish - Riparian Areas, A User's Guide to Health

Cows and Fish - Riparian Health Assessment for Lakes, Sloughs and Wetlands Field Workbook