Riparian and Wetlands Areas
Riparian zones and wetlands are critical components of the ecosystems in a watershed, and provide significant ecosystem services.
Riparian areas (lands adjacent to watercourses, wetlands and lakes, supporting water-loving vegetation) support 80 percent of Alberta’s wildlife. Healthy riparian vegetative cover protects streambanks from erosion by stabilizing the soil with its roots, and provides food, cover and connected travel corridors for many species of birds, mammals and other animals. The following provide information on riparian zones in the Elbow watershed and elsewhere.
Wetlands are areas that have water at, near or above the land surface, or land saturated with water long enough to support aquatic or wetland processes. They are an important component of a comprehensive flood protection strategy, an asset that is particularly relevant in the Elbow River watershed. In addition, wetlands improve water quality by filtration, provide critical habitat for waterfowl, reptiles, amphibians, fish and other species, provide oxygen and water vapour to the air, and support recreational activities such as bird watching. The following provide information on wetlands in the Elbow watershed and elsewhere.