Riparian lands have substantial ecological, economic, and social value. The effective management of these habitats is a critical component of watershed health maintenance. However, because previous efforts to survey and assess riparian areas have been 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 Strawberry subwatershed.
1,926 km of shoreline was assessed in the Strawberry subwatershed, along 14 named and unnamed lakes, 49 named and unnamed creeks.
- 34% of the shoreline (665 km) was classified as High Intactness
- 23% of the shoreline (449 km) was classified as Moderate Intactness
- 10% of the shoreline (198 km) was classified as Low Intactness
- 32% of the shoreline (615 km) was classified as Very Low Intactness
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.