Alberta Wetland Policy
Overview and Update
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
February 14, 2014
• New Policy Context
• The Alberta Wetland Policy
– Goal & Outcomes
– Relative Wetland Value
– The Mitigation System
– Practical Outline
New Policy Context
• Commitment for delivery of a provincial-scale
wetland policy (Water for Life Strategy, 2003).
• Context and direction set under the Land Use
• Expectations for an integrated, comprehensive,
consistent approach to wetland management
• Need for a balanced and informed approach to
• Effective from the date of implementation
• Alberta Water Council recommendations for a new provincial wetland
• “Wetlands – Policy Intent” (2010)
– Strategic policy document, based on Water Council Recommendations.
– Minister’s Roundtable in Calgary
– General agreement on policy direction. Expressed need for clarity on:
• Relative Wetland Value
• Wetland Mitigation System
• Relative Wetland Value Working Group (May – July, 2011)
– ~20 external stakeholder organizations
– Principles and criteria to guide development of a relative wetland value
• Mitigation Working Group (September – November, 2012)
– Principles and criteria to aid development of the wetland mitigation system.
Alberta Wetland Policy
– To conserve, restore, protect, and manage Alberta’s wetlands to
sustain the benefits they provide to the environment, society,
and the economy.
1. Wetlands of the highest value are protected for the long-term
benefit of all Albertans.
2. Wetlands and their benefits are conserved and restored in areas
where losses have been high.
3. Wetlands are managed by avoiding and minimizing negative
impacts, and, where necessary, replacing lost wetland value.
4. Wetland management considers regional context.
Relative Wetland Value
• Alberta’s wetlands are highly diverse in form, function, use, and
distribution across the province – they are not all of equal value.
• Relative wetland value (functions + benefits) will be used to inform
• Wetland functions:
– Biodiversity, Water Quality Improvement, Flood Mitigation
• Wetland benefits:
– Education, recreation, cultural significance
• Relative wetland abundance will be used to inform the value
– In areas of low abundance and high historic loss, relative value of individual
wetlands may be somewhat higher.
– In areas of high abundance and low historic loss, some degree of managed loss
may be sustainable. Relative value may be somewhat lower.
Avoidance – The preferred
response is to avoid impacts on
Minimization – Where avoidance is
not possible, proponents will be
expected to minimize impacts on
Replacement – As a last resort,
and where avoidance and
minimization efforts are not feasible
or prove ineffective, wetland
replacement will be required.
The Replacement System
• Replacement will be enabled in one of two ways:
1. In lieu fee payment:
• Proponent pays a replacement fee to a coordinating body.
• Funds are allocated based on defined priorities, including
restorative and non-restorative measures.
• Proponent is relieved of liability.
2. Permittee-responsible compensation:
• Proponent assumes responsibility for an agreed/approved
• Replacement options incorporate a range of restorative and
non-restorative measures (priority is restoration).
The Wetland Replacement Matrix
Value of Replacement Wetland
Value of Lost Wetland
*Ratios are expressed as hectares of wetland
- Site Assessment Tool (determine value)
- Avoid / Minimize
Areas for Implementation (1)
• Technical/Knowledge Systems
Relative Wetland Value Assessment (tools and maps)
GIS layers (value, restored/conserved, drained)
Databases, Web Portal, + Systems Refresh
Guidelines, criteria, BMPs, Codes of Practice
– Accountabilities, relationships (industry, municipalities, province,
– Financial systems, banking and offset programs
– Certification system for mitigation agents and wetland assessors
Areas for Implementation (2)
• Regulatory Systems
– Regulatory processes:
• Guidelines, criteria, and standards to guide decision-making,
development activities, and management actions
– Approvals system and decision framework
– Compliance and enforcement mechanisms
• Education and Outreach
– Education plan, establishment of priorities
– Partnerships and outreach networks (e.g., North American
Waterfowl Management Plan)
– Educational programs and materials
• Continued development of key operational components
• Stakeholder engagement:
– Targeted engagement on sector-specific aspects of policy development, as
needed (Spring 2014 – Summer 2015).
• E.g., alignment/integration with Operating Ground Rules
– Broader stakeholder engagement (existing working group) to facilitate
ongoing communication on policy direction (Spring 2014 – Summer 2015)
– Outreach sessions (Summer 2014, Summer 2015) to inform affected
stakeholders on operational processes prior to policy implementation
• Policy Implementation:
– White Area, August 2014; Green Area, August 2015