There currently exists some significant (and several minor) data and information gaps for the indicator relating to Wetlands.
Due to the significant importance of wetlands, SEAWA is recommending a province-wide and systematic wetland assessment and performance monitoring program be developed by both the public and private sector.
The goal is to be able to report on the total area and numbers of wetlands by sub-basin, based on SPOT Imagery data. However, this data is currently under development and review, but should be available in the near future.
One of the key SEAWA initiatives is the characterization and protection of wetlands. As such, future research, planning and indicator development will focus on:
Wetland Health Inventory and Classification: A comprehensive wetland inventory which includes drained and altered wetland areas is critical for source water protection. The inventories to classify wetland 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 wetland health that relate to water quality when this is complete.
Wetland Coverage: A comprehensive wetland inventory capturing historic wetland loss and alteration should be used as an indicator for future state of watershed reporting and planning and the setting of wetland conservation and restoration goals.
Wetland Restoration and Planning: Develop a wetland management plan, based on comprehensive wetland inventories.
Wetlands and Storm Water: Further research to determine the practicality of using existing undisturbed wetlands for storm water treatment purposes.
Wetlands and Water Quality: Further research into wetland function and which include investigating groundwater recharge and surface water quantity relationships in wetland function.
In 2005, the Alberta Water Council established the Wetland Policy Project Team to develop recommendations for a new wetland policy and corresponding implementation plan for the Government of Alberta. The wetland package was approved by the board and released to the public on September 18th, 2008.