Wetland Classification & Delineation

Wetlands are ecosystems characterized by:

  • water loving (hydrophilic) vegetation species;
  • a water table at, or near, the soil or moss surface; and
  • certain biogeochemical processes characteristic of waterlogged soils.

In Alberta, wetlands cover about 18% of the land surface. In the forested region of northern Alberta, peatlands prevail, while in the agricultural region of southern and northwestern Alberta near Peace River, marshes and shallow water wetlands prevail. When the Government of Alberta released the Wetland Policy in 2013, all natural wetlands and all restored natural wetlands were protected towards sustaining the benefits they provide to the environment, society, and economy of Alberta. In June 2015, the Government of Alberta released the implementation plan for all wetlands in the agricultural region of Alberta. A similar implementation plan is anticipated to be released by the Government of Alberta in 2016.

Wetlands covered under the Wetland Policy are protected, and any proposed impacts, either direct or indirect, require an approval under the provincial Water Act. Since delivering the implementation plan for wetlands in the agricultural zone of Alberta in June 2015, the process which a development proponent has to follow to acquire an approval under the Water Act, either from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) or Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), has dramatically changed.

Dr. Thormann has been assisting private land owners, land developers, and industry with the acquisition of Water Act approvals towards their development goals. In general terms, this involves identifying, delineating, and classifying a wetland and then conducting a detailed wetland assessment by examining vegetation communities, wildlife populations, hydrologic (water quality and water quantity) characteristics, soils, climatic parameters, and human use indicators. This assessment must be completed by a qualified wetland ecologist who, currently, is registered with Alberta Environment and Parks as an Interim Wetland Science Practitioner (IWSP).

Dr. Thormann is a registered Professional Biologist (P.Biol.) in Alberta, a registered Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) in the United States, and a registered Interim Wetland Science Practitioner with Alberta Environment and Parks. Along with his over 20 years’ of wetland ecological experience in Alberta, he is highly qualified to work with you towards acquiring development approvals under the Water Act.