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 an effort to identify riparian areas that may be under stress or face impairment of function due to the landscape composition of the uplands that are hydrologically connected through surface flows, a variety of natural and anthropogenic pressures within local catchment areas adjacent to each water body were assessed.
In total, 1,708 km of shoreline was assessed in the Modeste subwatershed.