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Update for Alberta’s Wetland Policy


By Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd. | Taylor Bujaczek & Jay White

Bullrushes are one of the most commonly recognized wetland species.

A recent update to Alberta’s Wetland Policy (Dec. 2018) means that grants are now available from the Government of Alberta to finance private wetland restoration in addition to existing Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) payments. This means even more opportunities for farmers to get paid for wetland restoration!

Alberta has already lost 70% of wetlands in settled areas.1 Landowners and proponents responsible for the loss of a wetland must pay a wetland replacement fee or undertake a wetland replacement project.2 The December update to the Wetland Policy shifts replacement fee payments from Ducks Unlimited Canada back to the Alberta Government. 2,3 This shift in policy provides more flexibility and access to wetland restoration funds for farmers and other landowners who have had difficulty restoring wetlands due to the expense.2 Over the past several decades, drastic wetland losses have occurred because the value of these ecosystems wasn’t understood, and it was difficult to restore wetlands on private lands. Now there are funds available to accomplish this.

Shifts to the Wetland Policy allow for wetland delivery agents (formerly known as wetland restoration agencies) to apply to the Government of Alberta and receive contractual agreements for wetland restoration projects.3 This can be extremely advantageous as delivery agencies can expand the geographic region in which Alberta can complete wetland restoration, something that has been a hinderance in the past.3

Frank Lake Grasses near High River, AB

Emerging delivery agencies could support certain groups for restoration projects, similar to how producers are supported specifically by ALUS programs for wetland restoration.3 This could create specialized delivery agencies that deliver wetland restoration plans to meet the client’s goals and ensure the long-term success of the project. This policy shift will allow a huge opportunity for landowners, municipalities, consultants, and others to become delivery agents, fulfill the goals of the Wetland Policy, and restore highly valued ecosystems that were destroyed.2

ALUS is a non-profit program that Aquality partners with for wetland restoration. ALUS works with farmers and ranchers at a community level to protect and restore wetlands, among other projects.4 ALUS pays producers annually for following wetland restoration and environmental management plans that ALUS specifically designs for their landscape.4 ALUS has already partnered with several communities in Alberta, such as Northern Sunrise County.5 ALUS, Northern Sunrise and Aquality have advised and implemented several successful projects, such as wetland and riparian enhancement.6

Sandpipers wading near the shore of Frank Lake.

For more information about how to become a wetland delivery agent or discuss your project needs contact Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd. today.  

For more information, visit:

ALUS Canada

Alberta Wetland Policy

Alberta Wetland Policy Implementation

1 Government of Alberta. Alberta Environment and Parks. Jul 6, 2018. Wetlands: What are Wetlands? Accessed January 10, 2019

2 Government of Alberta. 2018. Alberta Wetland Replacement Fact Sheet. Accessed January 15, 2019  

3  Alberta NAWMP Partnership. 2013. Wetland Restoration in Alberta: Current Status and Future Potential. Accessed January 16, 2019

4 ALUS Canada. 2014. ALUS Cookbook 2014-11-24

5 ALUS Canada. 2019. ALUS Northern Sunrise. Accessed January 15, 2019

6 Northern Sunrise County. 2017. 2017 Agricultural Stewardship Tour: Heart River Watershed Project & ALUS Northern Sunrise. Accessed January 16, 2019