Environmentally Significant Areas of Alberta, CanadaEntry ID: Canada_AlbertaParks_EnviroSignifAreas
Abstract: Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) are important, useful and often sensitive features of the landscape. As an integral component of sustainable development strategies, they provide long-term benefits to our society by maintaining ecological processes and by providing useful products. The identification and management of ESAs is a valuable addition to the traditional socio-economic factors ... which have largely determined land use planning in the past.
The first ESA study conducted in Alberta was in 1983 for the Calgary Regional Planning Commission. Numerous ESA studies were subsequently conducted through the late 1980's and early 1990's. ESA studies of the Parkland, Grassland, Canadian Shield, Foothills and Boreal Forest Natural Regions are now complete, while the Rocky Mountain Natural Region has been partially completed.
Four factors regarding the physical state of each site were considered when assessing the overall level of significance of each ESA: representativeness, diversity, naturalness, and ecological integrity. Each ESA was assigned a significance level: provincial, national or international.
Areas of provincial significance in Alberta include sizable remnants of relatively undisturbed upland and valley habitats; important waterfowl reproduction and shorebird staging areas; and some of the most critical wildlife ranges (e.g. deer, Pronghorn, Caribou, Moose, Grizzly Bear) in Alberta.
Areas of national significance include staging habitats with nationally high concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds, national parks, habitats for endangered species and concentrations of nationally rare plant and animal species.
Areas of international significance include sites of globally
endangered species (e.g. Whooping Crane), RAMSAR wetlands; geological
type localities; and extremely diverse grassland-valley complexes on
international waterways (e.g. Writing-on-Stone).
ESAs, viewed in the context of protected areas, are anticipated to be the most cost-efficient and, in many cases, the only means available for maintaining adequate levels of biological diversity at appropriate scales. It is important at this time to note that ESAs are not characterized by protectionist policies. A site designated as an ESA is not a legislatively mandated protected area. However, the designation of an ESA does indicate the value of both biotic and abiotic resources within a site. By identifying ESAs prior to the development of land-use plans, biodiversity conservation can be incorporated into both private and public land management. The overall goal of employing ESA inventories into land use plans is to maintain viable populations and natural distributions of native species and communities in the landscape.
Various national and international programs and agreements commit Canada to completing a network of protected areas and to conserving biodiversity in the overall landscape. Special Places 2000 is the strategic plan which has been established by the Alberta government to provide direction for the identification and establishment of protected areas in the province.
ESAs have become a useful tool in the implementation of Special Places 2000, a strategic plan for identifying and protecting diverse and representative landscapes in Alberta. ESA inventories serve as a valuable source of information for future protected area selection and designation. ESAs of provincial or greater significance are considered the most likely sites for identifying landscapes suitable for a provincial protected areas program like Special Places 2000.
All information is stored in digital database and ARCINFO spatial files so it can be used in a variety of ways.The primary purpose of the study was to evaluate and provide an overview of all ESA inventories completed to date. The specific objectives of the study were to:
1. Produce a report that provides a provincial overview of the ESAs
program and summarizes the results of the ESA inventory program for
each of the Province's Natural Regions;
2. Evaluate the significance levels assigned to previously identified
ESAs to ensure that classification criteria are consistently applied
and to assign significance levels based on consistent criteria;
3. To edge-match ARCINFO polygons from previous ESA inventories;
4. To analyse, at a scale of 1:250,000, the total area of
provincially, nationally and internationally significant ESAs greater
than 10 sq. km by level 1 Natural History Themes as identified by
Alberta Parks Services (1994).
5. To produce 1:250,000 scale maps showing all provincially,
nationally and internationally significant ESAs and the level 1
Natural History Themes included within the boundaries of each ESA.
The report is organized so that the user can get an overview of the
major biophysical resources, Natural History Themes, and future study
needs as well as more detailed information on each environmentally
Each of the environmentally significant areas is described in outline
form so the reader can, at a glance, determine the following:
1. Name of the ESA study from which the information is derived;
2. Name of the area;
3. General location;
4. NTS map sheet;
5. Municipality in which it occurs;
6. Natural subregions in which it occurs;
7. Level of significance (provincial, national or international) and
background for determining level of significance;
8. A description of the major features which characterize the area;
9. Management considerations; and
10. References which will provide more scientific or detailed information
should the user require it.
Spatial Data Organization Information -
Indirect Spatial Reference:
Direct Spatial Reference: Raster
Raster Object Type:
Spatial Reference Information -
Horizontal Coordinate System Definition -
Map Projection Name: Transverse Mercator
Scale Factor at Central Meridian:
Longitude of Central Meridian:
Latitude of Projection Origin:
Planar Coordinate Encoding Method:
Distance and Bearing Representation:
Bearing Reference Direction:
Bearing Reference Meridian:
Planar Distance Units:
Horizontal Datum Name: North American Datum of 1983
Ellipsoid Name: Geodetic Reference System 80
Denominator of Flattening Ratio:
(Click for Interactive Map)
Data Set Citation
Dataset Originator/Creator: Alberta Parks -- Tourism, Parks, and Recreation, Government of Alberta
Dataset Title: Environmentally Significant Areas of Alberta, Canada
Dataset Release Date: 2009
Dataset Release Place: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Dataset Publisher: Alberta Parks -- Tourism, Parks, and Recreation, Government of AlbertaOnline Resource: http://www.albertaparks.ca/albertaparksca/library/environmentally-s...
Start Date: 2009-01-01
BIOSPHERE > ECOLOGICAL DYNAMICS > SPECIES/POPULATION INTERACTIONS > ENDANGERED SPECIES
HUMAN DIMENSIONS > ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE/MANAGEMENT > LAND MANAGEMENT
HUMAN DIMENSIONS > ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
LAND SURFACE > LANDSCAPE > LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY
HUMAN DIMENSIONS > SUSTAINABILITY > SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
ISO Topic Category
Access Constraints None
Use Constraints Data are not expected to be used on a for-profit basis. Use of the data for commercial or for-profit applications are permitted only via written permission from the managers of the data network and from the component data caretakers. Proper acknowledgment of the ACIMS is expected. In most instances the boundaries of each ESA (polygon) is an approximation and were originally hand-drawn on 1:250 000 maps. The significant features within an ESA polygon may not be evenly distributed nor contiguous.Data are provided on an "as is" basis - no responsibility by ACIMS or by the caretakers of the original data is accepted for uses or misuses. There is no guarantee of the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of the data or information.
Data Set Progress
Role: TECHNICAL CONTACT
Extended Metadata Properties
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Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2002-02-06
Last DIF Revision Date: 2013-02-11