Part of Land

Alberta Human Footprint Monitoring Program

This program creates and compiles land use data to inform provincial land and resource management.


The Alberta Human Footprint Monitoring Program (AHFMP) was established in 2014 by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) to collect, inventory and compile information about human disturbances or land use activities. The program is led by ABMI and Government of Alberta, in collaboration with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and fRI research.

About human footprint

Human footprint refers to direct physical disturbance to a landscape as a result of human activity. Human footprint is typically measured using satellite imagery of federal, provincial and privately-owned land across the province to show changes on the landscape over time.

Over 30 per cent of Alberta’s land surface has human footprint due to:

  • Agriculture
  • Electricity
  • Forestry
  • Industrial activity
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
  • Recreation
  • Renewable energy
  • Transportation and roads
  • Urban development

How the program works

Human Footprint Inventory

Over 100 different types of human footprint features have been identified in Alberta. Through the AHFMP, these features have been grouped into 20 geospatial sub-layers based on the type of land use activity they are associated with.

The 20 sub-layers are merged into a single Human Footprint Inventory (HFI) based on a hierarchy for overlapping features. However, users have the option to use the sublayers to create their own hierarchies and final footprint layer to meet their needs.

This data is maintained through yearly updates since 2019 and is available on ABMI’s website as open and free datasets for download. Visit:

Data sourcing, reporting and application

Where possible, the AHFMP uses information about footprints directly from authoritative sources such as:

  • Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)
  • digital integrated dispositions
  • cadastral data (mapping data including attributes such as the legal land description and land owner)

If features are not available from an authoritative source, the program will create new data, working with subject matter experts, when possible, from various organizations to ensure the features are digitized and attributed correctly. The data is available for public use on ABMI’s website, within the annual human footprint inventories.

Creating accurate human footprint data relies on monitoring and multi-agency reporting. The data supports annual and long-term analysis of:

  • land use trends
  • effective land use planning and management
  • policy development and research

AHFMP member organizations contribute their human land use data collection and mapping efforts to create a provincial human footprint dataset.

Related resources


Connect with us about with the Alberta Human Footprint Monitoring Program.

Outreach Services for Environment and Protected Areas and Foresty and Parks

Hours of operation
8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)

Contact information
Toll free: 310-3773 (in Alberta)
Toll free in Canada: 1-877-944-0313
International: 780-944-0313
Email: [email protected]