Alberta’s wetlands provide a wide range of ecosystem services, and they are a critical indicator of the health of Alberta’s hydrological systems. Available information on location and state of Alberta’s wetlands is currently limited. The best existing wetland inventory (geospatial product) is a composite derived from numerous sources, with varying degrees of quality, differing classification standards and intents. This lack of standardized, baseline data and standards for a wetland and aquatic inventory poses challenges to supporting Alberta’s environmental policies and frameworks, including the Alberta Wetland Policy, land-use planning, and tracking loss and gains of wetland acreage.
Built with the best data collection methods and analytical approaches, a wetland inventory is necessary to inform management decisions and trigger management responses to protect the wetland function and ecosystem services. In light of these needs, the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute hosted a Wetland Mapping and Needs Assessment Workshop on February 27, 2015. The workshop brought together developer and user partners to collectively identify the needs, challenges, and gaps associated with Alberta’s wetland inventory and to create solutions for an optimal wetland mapping and monitoring platform.
The workshop highlighted the next steps for a wetland inventory for Alberta with a focus on two themes: leadership and action. The workshop participants recommended a steering committee of developer and user partners to lead the establishment an optimal wetland mapping platform and system in Alberta. The primary action of the steering committee is to provide open-access data grounded with sound and credible mapping standards.
The key outcome of the workshop was the creation of a vision statement to guide leadership and action for an optimal provincial scale wetland inventory. The wetland inventory will provide comprehensive and standardized wetland information and datasets for Alberta that is freely and timely available with the detail level to support the needs of stakeholders and users. The wetland inventory will create the following for Alberta:
- Wetland information and geospatial layers to support Alberta’s environmental policies and frameworks and meet regional and sub-regional planning needs.
- All data and information is readily and publicly available in a standardized format.
- Effective developer and user input into the program.
The wetland inventory will provide the state of the art wetland information to meet user
needs, inform wetland management decisions, integrate with other mapping initiatives and inventories in Alberta, and support the implementation of Alberta’s environmental policies and frameworks, including the Alberta Wetland Policy. To build a single inventory, the needs, challenges, leadership, and action as identified in the workshop should guide future work.