Building a balanced future for Alberta
Given the diverse range of landscapes and land uses across southern Alberta, it is not enough to create and manage protected areas alone. Effective regional planning is essential across the entire landscape to ensure that headwaters, fish and wildlife habitat and connectivity are maintained and improved into the future.
The goal of land-use planning is to strike that healthy balance between environmental, economic and cultural well-being across a mixed-use regional landscape. The only way to do so properly is to focus on the entire ecosystem, and to consider entire watersheds.
Land-use planning creates a clear path forward
CPAWS Southern Alberta is involved at all levels and stages of government land-use planning initiatives. We promote science-based solutions and best practices to ensure effective land-use planning that addresses cumulative effects and conserves environmentally significant areas and corridors. If done right, these regional plans can set a clear path forward, protecting Alberta’s outdoor way of life, strengthening our economy and building a healthier environment as we grow and manage our resources.
Support our continued participation in land-use planning by donating today.
The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan
From sprawling ranches and natural grasslands to the jagged peaks of Kananaskis and the Castle, the South Saskatchewan River Basin contains a wide diversity of ecosystems and land uses and is vital for providing clean water to the people and communities in southern Alberta.
In 2014, the Government of Alberta released its South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP), which sets the direction for conservation and development in the region for the next 50 years. During the consultation process leading up to the final plan, CPAWS engaged Albertans to increase public awareness and encourage participation and will continue to engage the provincial government during SSRP implemented through to 2024.
Porcupine Hills and Livingstone Regions
Some of the most amazing landscapes we have in southern Alberta can be found in the southwest corner of the province in the Porcupine Hills and Livingstone regions. The forests, grasslands, and headwaters streams on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s southern Rockies provide water, sustain fish and wildlife, and offer some of the province’s best opportunities for ranching, recreation and tourism.
These areas have seen increasing pressure from industrial activity, and recreational use with the landscape becoming increasingly damaged and fragmented by human uses. In some areas, the densities of roads and trails are 4-5 times the limit needed to maintain clean water and safe, effective habitat for species like the grizzly bear, westslope cutthroat trout, and bull trout. While the importance of these areas has long been recognized, it has not been reflected in the way we manage and use the area.
In 2018, CPAWS worked collaboratively to support the release of management plans for Porcupine Hills-Livingstone regions with broad stakeholder support. These plans placed limits on roads and trails to protect fish, wildlife and water and to maintain quality recreation experiences. We continue to work with our partners, stakeholders, and government to ensure the plans are effectively implemented on-the-ground and all future land-use decisions in the region protect the fish, wildlife, water, and quiet recreation value of these iconic Alberta landscapes.
Photo Credit: Murray Robertson
North Saskatchewan Regional Plan
Similar to the south, the North Saskatchewan Region contains diverse landscapes that encompass many vital ecosystems, including headwaters forests that provide clean water to downstream communities, habitat for species at risk and a major source of recreation and tourism.
The process for developing the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan (NSRP), currently underway, provides an opportunity to protect key natural areas and conserve important natural ecosystem functions. Head over to CPAWS Northern Alberta to learn how they are supporting the development of the NSRP.