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Wetlands Alberta

Engaging Albertans to conserve and protect wetlands


Wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet.

You are here: Wetlands on your land

Wetlands on your land

Farming and ranching with wetlands

If you are a landowner, then you know farming and ranching with wetlands can be challenging, especially for crop growers. Wetlands can also provide multiple benefits to your farm or ranch and your community including reducing flood and drought impacts, water for livestock and groundwater recharge, improved water quality, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and absorb and store carbon in plants and soil.

As a landowner, it is your responsibility to ensure that all municipal, provincial, and federal regulatory requirements are met prior to commencing work in or near a wetland.

Two key pieces of Alberta Legislation and policy landowners need to be aware of are:

  1. Water Act: all activities affecting water bodies. Under the Water Act , regulatory approval is required for drainage or any other impact to any type of water body, including wetlands and ephemeral water bodies.
  2. Alberta Wetland Policy: any proposed project that requires a Water Act authorization has to follow the Wetland Policy’s mitigation system, which emphasizes avoiding wetland impacts. The Alberta Wetland Policy is implemented via the approval process under Alberta’s Water Act.

Does the Wetland Policy apply to your situation?

If you use the term slough, hay slough, swamp, swampy area, muskeg, or marsh to describe an area on your land, then you have a wetland, and the Wetland Policy’s mitigation requirements probably apply. Those are the easy wetlands to identify. But the mitigation requirements can also apply to wetlands that may be less obvious, even where the flow or presence of water is not continuous. Remember, wetlands can appear differently as water levels fluctuate in response to wet and dry cycles. Their appearance can change dramatically from spring to late summer, and from year to year.

For more information on what you need to know when working in and around wetlands on your farm or ranch, review the document Landowner Guide to the Alberta Wetland Policy – xxxlink (direct to Resources Section - Landowners). The guide helps you as a landowner in Alberta to understand your rights, responsibilities and opportunities under the Wetland Policy and outlines the regulatory process if you are planning to drain or otherwise alter a wetland. The guide summarizes how wetlands benefit ranchers and farmers and looks at practices and programs for producers who are interested in wetland stewardship and restoration. Contact information is provided for programs specific to the needs and questions of landowners.

This document was developed in direct response and feedback from the agricultural sector, to develop and provide additional tools to help landowners farm, ranch, and manage wetlands on their lands. Additional tools are currently being developed and will be updated on this site when available.

For additional resources, publications, and links to more information please visit the Landowners section.