Provincial Wetland Restoration/Compensation Guide (2007)
The compensation guide was written to give direction to any agency whose activities and mandates will affect wetlands and clarifies how Water Act applications will be reviewed when loss of a wetland will occur. The guide explains compensation for wetland loss. Compensation plans must be submitted with water act approvals.
Wetland Mitigation Hierarchy
Proponents of development in or near wetlands must evaluate the potential for impacting wetlands and compensate accordingly. The Alberta Wetland Policy presents a mitigation hierarchy that outlines a series of mitigation options when action is proposed that may cause the loss or degradation of a wetland. In order of preference a proponent must avoid loss or degradation or wetlands followed by minimizing their impact. If avoidance is not possible the last option is to replace or provide compensation for the impacts or loss of wetlands.
The provincial restoration guide provides direction for compensation when impacts to wetlands are not avoidable. Compensation for impacting a wetland is required when the proponent gains approval under the Water Act. Compensation for impacting a wetland is achieved by restoring drained or altered naturally occurring wetlands and should take place within the same watershed as the wetland impacted by the development. The area that must be restored to compensate for the impacted wetland is determined by a replacement ratio that takes several factors into consideration: the type of wetland, permanency, restoration success of similar wetlands, species present at the impacted site and the importance of the impacted site to native flora and fauna. This ratio will change depending on site specific circumstances as determined by a QWSP (Qualified Wetland Science Practitioner).
When restoration or construction of a wetland is required, a third party may be involved: a Wetland Mitigation Agent (previously Wetland Replacement Agency). Wetland Mitigation Agents (WMA) are organizations responsible for restoring drained wetlands to near natural conditions. There are currently four WMA’s in Alberta: Duck’s Unlimited, Alberta Transportation, City of Calgary, and the County of Vermillion River.