Wetlands are constantly under threat from development and at least 60-70% are already lost in the settled areas of Alberta. To protect and effectively manage wetlands, you must first know where they are.


We developed four spatial datasets to help us understand our wetland resources in the Bow River basin. Below is a brief description of each dataset. Please refer to the technical report available on the Resources page for more information about how the datasets were developed, their limitations, and some suggested applications.

Wetland Inventory
The wetland inventory shows the most recent record of wetland developed for this project, which largely reflects the landscape in 2020 when most of the imagery is from. The wetlands are classified into one of the five classes (bog, fen, marsh, shallow open water, or swamp) as per the Alberta Wetland Classification System and meets the inventory standards developed by the GOA.

Restorable Wetland Inventory
The restorable wetland inventory identifies wetlands that appeared to be impacted by a drainage feature such as ditches or recontouring that appeared to be human made. This layer included wetlands with a high likelihood of drainage activity that may be eligible for restoration under the provincial Wetland Restoration Program, but does not include wetlands that were modified or impacted if there was not evidence of enhanced drainage (e.g., those excavated to create a dugout or cultivated).

Historical Wetland Inventory
The historical wetland inventory shows the historic extent of wetlands in the region based on historic air photos captured between 1949 and 1951. A small area along the western extent of the region and areas along river valleys were excluded from this dataset because of poor image quality in the area.

Land Cover
The land cover dataset is a hierarchical classification with two levels. Level 1 includes 10 broad classes (e.g., open water, forest, natural grassland, natural bare ground, snow/ice, agriculture, disturbed vegetation, built up/exposed, natural depression, agricultural depression) and Level 2 includes a higher resolution with 18 classes that nest within Level 1 (e.g., open water, coniferous, deciduous, shrub, natural grassland, natural bare ground, snow/ice, pasture, cropland, disturbed vegetation, human built, roads, lowland mineral woody, lowland mineral graminoid, lowland mineral saline, lowland peat woody, lowland peat graminoid, lowland mineral disturbed).

Limitations of datasets

Please refer to the technical report for a detailed description of the data quality, limitations and appropriate uses.

Example of applications

Below are some examples of how these datasets may be used independently or in concert. The datasets that the application applies to is indicated by the icons.

  • A benchmark for the current extent of natural habitats
  • Identify watersheds that may be at risk
  • Landscape level planning (e.g., intermunicipal development plans, area structure plans)
  • Identify wetlands for enhancement activities
  • Habitat assessment, monitoring and modelling (e.g., connectivity analysis, habitat monitoring, conservation planning)
  • Identify wetland restoration opportunities