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Part of Shorelands

Shorelands – Riparian areas

The province protects riparian areas – the productive and valuable vegetated lands beside water features.


Riparian areas:

  • are lush vegetated lands beside streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands
  • have vegetation and soils strongly influenced by the presence of water
  • make up only a small fraction of the land
  • are among the most productive and valuable of all landscape types

Alberta’s settled region

Private land generally borders rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands in settled areas of Alberta.

Public land may also border the water body and may be leased for grazing. Public land managers work with private landowners and leaseholders to maintain the landscape and ecology of riparian areas.

Cows and Fish Program

This partnership program with the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society:

  • promotes sustainable riparian land management
  • helps landowners by providing tools and information
  • aims to maintain or restore healthy riparian areas
  • see the Cows and Fish Program for details

Riparian health assessment

This assessment was developed by the Rangeland Management Branch and the Cows and Fish Program. It provides tools to assess the general health of riparian areas on public rangelands.

Alberta’s forested region

The Crown owns the forested regions of Alberta, including the beds and shores of all water features. Approved land uses usually require a riparian buffer between operational areas and the banks and shores of water bodies.


The province has a number of guidance documents related to riparian management.

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