Riparian lands have substantial ecological, economic, and social value. The effective management of these habitats is a critical component in maintaining watershed health. However, because previous efforts to survey and assess riparian areas have focused on small-to-medium scales, the extent and condition of the majority of riparian areas in the province of Alberta is largely unknown.
The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, recognizing the importance of developing a geospatial method to assess riparian areas at large spatial extents, commissioned Fiera Biological Consulting to develop a remote sensing and GIS approach for inventorying and assessing riparian areas along shorelines in the Modeste subwatershed.
In total, 1,708 km of shoreline was assessed in the Modeste subwatershed.
- 72% of the shoreline was classified as High Intactness
- 10% of the shoreline was classified as Moderate Intactness
- 15% of the shorline was classified as Very Low
- 5% of the shoreline was classified as Low
Areas of High Intactness were concentrated in the southwest parts of the watershed.
Areas of Low or Very Low Intactness were associated with agricultural land use in the northwest and south eastern portions of the watershed.
This new GIS-based approach was validated against videography-based assessments and performed well (Fiera Biological 2018b); however, Alberta Environment and Parks wanted to increase their confidence in the results of this work, and further validation of both the land cover inputs and model were required.