Alberta Wetland Policy

The Alberta Wetland Policy was released on September 11, 2013. The White Area Implementation of the Alberta Wetland Policy was released September 4, 2014. The new policy was implemented on September 1, 2014 and the tools for the White Area implementation were released on June 1, 2015.  The Green Area Implementation of the Alberta Wetland Policy was in effect as of July 4, 2016, using the tools of implementation already in effect in the White Area.

This document is critical to the conservation and management of Alberta's wetland resources. This website provides a brief overview of the new policy and implementation plan. The information provided here is meant to highlight and report on the most important points, but is not intended to replace the original documents.

The goal of the Alberta Wetland Policy is to maintain wetland areas in Alberta such that the ecological, social, and economic benefits that wetlands provide are maintained, thereby helping to ensure that Albertans have healthy watersheds that provide safe and secure drinking water supplies, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy. In recognition of the high rates of wetland loss in some watersheds, this policy also encourages Albertans to be proactive in increasing wetland area.

The policy focuses on four outcomes to achieve this goal:

  1. Value: Wetlands are not of equal value, they vary in form, function and use. The new policy seeks to protect wetlands of the highest value.

  2. Benefits: The benefits of wetlands are conserved and restored in cases where losses have occurred.

  3. Mitigation: Wetlands are managed by avoiding loss or degradation of the wetland, minimizing damage where avoidance is not possible, and replacing wetlands where loss is unavoidable.

  4. Regional management

The three main strategic directions outlined by the Alberta Wetland Policy, and their intended outcomes, are:

1. Flexible wetland management:

The new policy sets a clear and consistent direction for wetland management at a provincial scale with proactive integration of wetland management by incorporating policy into a multi-scale, multi-stakeholder planning process. The Alberta Wetland Policy will be integrated into the legislation, policies, planning and programs of the Government of Alberta and its partners. Clear wetland objectives will be developed and implemented through watershed and land-use planning processes across Alberta. Environmental, social, and economic place based values will be reflected in the management of wetlands to ensure flexibility and the maintenance of ecological, social, and economic benefits to Albertans.

2. Building of tools, knowledge, and capacity

Albertans will have the information, tools, and programs necessary to effectively protect, conserve, and restore wetlands. The process and tools will be in place for the protection of wetlands that are exceptional at a local, regional, provincial, national, or international scale.

3. Encouraging voluntary stewardship and wetland conservation

Albertans will be aware of the functions and benefits provided by wetlands. Appropriate tools and incentives will be available to promote wetland protection, conservation, and restoration.