On September 10, 2013, the Government of Alberta announced its
new Alberta Wetland Policy (Policy), which has been
developed in an effort to conserve, restore, protect and manage
Alberta's wetlands while providing regulatory certainty,
clarity and predictability to proponents and regulators. This
Policy will eventually replace the current wetland policy in
Alberta, Wetland Management in the Settled Area of Alberta: An
Interim Policy (1993). The Policy will be effective from the
date of approval but the timeline for its implementation has yet to
be developed. Noteworthy aspects of the Policy include the
The Policy will apply to natural wetlands in Alberta, including
bogs, fens, swamps, marshes and shallow open water; all restored
natural wetlands; and wetlands constructed for the purpose of
The Policy will introduce a "Relative Wetland Value,"
which acknowledges that not all wetlands in Alberta are of equal
value. The value of a wetland will be determined through the
consideration of different factors, including biodiversity and
ecological health, water quality improvement, hydrologic function,
human uses and relative abundance.
The Policy will introduce a "Wetland Mitigation
Hierarchy," which is a three-stage approach to achieve the
Policy's objectives and goals. The primary and preferred
response of resource developers is to avoid all impacts on
wetlands. If avoidance is justifiably ruled out, resource
developers are expected to minimize impacts on wetlands. If
avoidance and minimization are not feasible, wetland replacement is
required as a last resort and will fall into one of two categories:
(1) restorative replacement, which will include the restoration,
enhancement or construction of another wetland; and (2)
non-restorative replacement, which will allow resource developers
to pay financial restitution for wetland loss. The use of the
Wetland Mitigation Hierarchy will be informed by the Relative
The Policy will be further supported by forthcoming
decision-making frameworks, codes of practice and standard
operating procedures for some commonly occurring activities.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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