Alberta Wet Areas Mapping Initiative
Alberta’s Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development was a recipient of an Emerald Award in the Government Institution category for their Wet Areas Mapping Initiative in 2013
In 2004, Alberta’s Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development embarked on what has been a nine-year pursuit of geographic information about water and soil features in the province. They are working with researchers from the University of New Brunswick to develop useful data sets to learn more about the state of these resources in the province, which will encourage a more sustainable approach to environmental conservation and development.
The Initiative’s Solution
Traditional mapping of water in Alberta relies on photo interpretation, which is unable to capture unseen, smaller areas. To remedy this, the initiative’s work will test the effectiveness of a wet mapping tool that is impressively accurate, innovative, and sustainable. This new approach to mapping has been effective at encouraging the sustainability of forested landscapes, while also being economically efficient by reducing operational costs. The results will inform researchers and government officials of the land conditions in potential development areas to better inform planning. The goal is to map approximately 15 million hectares of land in Alberta, a goal which is becoming attainable with the success of new mapping trials in Alberta’s foothills and boreal regions.
A Win for the Environment
The wet areas mapping initiative will allow scientists to accurately evaluate the impacts of industrial, residential, rural, and recreational developments on land and water resources. They will be able to judge source-sink effects of these developments and how to lessen their environmental impacts according to flow rates and directions, and drainage patterns. It will also allow the government to create policies and management plans to preserve the province’s natural resources.
Efficient Urban and Industrial Transportation
Understanding the conditions of the land on which transport structures will be built will allow more efficient, practical traffic solutions for roads, power lines, and pipelines. This means that transit lines like Edmonton’s LRT system and major roadways could be improved, allowing more efficient mobility for Albertans. Monitoring the traffic patterns of these lines will also help to minimize the impacts of the oil industry on the land and the draining of its resources.
The Scientific Community
Enriching the understanding of ecosystems and land conditions will increase productivity in research initiatives. By gaining knowledge of land and water conditions and the ecosystems they house, scientists can improve the accuracy of their research and promote stewardship.
The wet areas mapping initiative will provide Albertans and researchers with top-of-the-line data to address the management of Alberta’s hydrological resources and the risk that is posed to them.
Discover other EcoHeroes like Dustin Bajer of Sustainable Food Edmonton and Lea Randall of the Calgary Zoo Conservation Centre