There currently exists some significant (and several minor) data and information gaps that need to be addressed before an indicator relating to Riparian Areas and Health can be developed.
Due to the significant ecological importance of riparian areas, SEAWA is recommending a province-wide and systematic riparian assessment and performance monitoring program be developed by both the public and private sector.
One of the key initiatives of SEAWA is the characterization and protection of riparian areas. As such, SEAWA will be supporting future research, planning and indicator development that will focus on:
Programs, Studies and Reports: Riparian Areas and Health
- Riparian Health Inventory and Classification: A comprehensive riparian inventory which includes developed and degraded riparian areas is critical for source water protection. The inventories to classify riparian areas at appropriate resolution/scale and according to their existing vegetation, the vegetation potential and the type and intensity of land use occurring within them. Priorization by geographic area (e.g., White/Settled area vs. Green/Forested area, heavily populated versus lightly populated areas). Reassess objectives and indicators of riparian health that relate to water quality when this is complete.
- Riparian Restoration and Planning: Develop a riparian management plan, based on comprehensive riparian inventories.
There are some programs, studies and reports that provide an overview of the extent and health of riparian areas in the South Sakatchewan River Basin (SSRB) and the South Sakatchewan River Sub-basin (SSRSB):
- Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources and Development – Has range specialists, reports and other programs for riparian assessment in public lands.
- Cows and Fish – In March 2005, Cows and Fish – Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society – released “South Saskatchewan River Basin Riparian Health Overview” which provides a general overview of the riparian health of many Alberta rivers, including the South Saskatchewan River (pages 135 to 179).
- Alberta Environment – In June 2007, Alberta Environment released a report titled “Aquatic and Riparian Condition Assessment of the South Saskatchewan River Basin” which examines three important factors affecting aquatic condition in the basin: riparian health, water quality and hydrology. The purpose of the assessment is to provide a strategic evaluation of the state of all mainstem river reaches in the South Saskatchewan River Basin, including the South Saskatchewan River Sub-basin (pages 54 to 59).
- SEAWA – In 2009, SEAWA released a report titled “Assessment of Riparian and Wetland Habitat” which provides an assessment of various studies focused on wetland and riparian areas and health in the South Saskatchewan River Sub-basin (SSRSB).