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 Sturgeon subwatershed.
1,759 km of shoreline was assessed in the Sturgeon subwatershed, along 17 lakes, 8 named streams, and 53 unnamed streams. This represents approximately 31% of the Sturgeon River watershed shoreline.
- 42% of that shoreline was classified as High Intactness
- 13% of that shoreline was classified as Moderate Intactness
- 20% of that shoreline was classified as Low Intactness
- 25% of that shoreline 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.