Alberta Wetland Policy: What You Need to Know

Did you know that wetlands cover approximately 20 percent of Alberta’s landscape? 

Wetlands are defined as low-lying areas of land covered by water long enough to support aquatic plants and wildlife for part of all of their life cycle.

Wetlands are highly diverse, productive ecosystems that provide a host of ecological services and form an integral component of Alberta's diverse landscapes.

Over the course of time, our wetlands have been significantly altered or destroyed due to expanding agriculture, human development and urban sprawl. Therefore, the preservation of these sensitive ecological components is essential. As a result, the Alberta Wetland Policy was implemented.

What is The Alberta Wetland Policy?

The Alberta Wetland Policy provides the strategic direction and tools required to make informed management decisions in the long-term interest of Albertans. The policy itself came into play in 2013 and requires avoidance of wetland areas, minimizing the impact, and, as a last resort, replacement by compensation or construction of new wetlands areas for impacted wetland areas which could not be avoided, minimized or reclaimed. Wetland compensation is made to create new wetlands or enhance existing wetlands. This compensation is paid to the Government of Alberta with the goal of attaining a zero net loss of existing wetland areas within any given watershed. 

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At Solstice, one of the largest problems we see is that people don’t always recognize wetlands or that they have wetland areas on their property. Often landowners are unaware that when a wetland is destroyed or altered, the owner is responsible for compensating for them on all private lands, even if they do not appear on land titles. 

We primarily work with two types of clients when it comes to wetland assessments and permitting.  These include (but are not limited to):

The Planner: you have identified wetlands prior to development along with other environmental sensitivities.


The Developer: you have a location or type of development with a specific piece of land you want to develop on. If so, it is important to determine what ecosystems currently exist on your property to plan out the implications and replacement efforts required.

Wetland Replacement Options

When wetland impacts cannot be avoided or minimized, and will result in permanent loss of wetland area, regulatory applicants can fulfil their replacement obligations through one of the following options.

  1. Permittee-responsible replacement: Undertake a wetland replacement project to restore a previously drained wetland or construct a new wetland of similar value.

  2. Pay a Wetland Replacement Fee for the permanent loss of wetland area and relative wetland value.

The Alberta Wetland Replacement Fact Sheet provides information on changes to the wetland replacement fee process, the Wetland Restoration Program and permittee responsible wetland replacement

How Solstice Can Support You

It’s important to be as proactive as possible when beginning any land development project. 

At Solstice, we work with our clients to help them map out wetlands within their area of interest and from there, we classify them according to the provincial system. If you fall into our developer client category, we would then complete a field assessment to establish the relative value and from there, we can help you determine the replacement costs.

Connect with us to learn more about how we can support your next land development project.