Riparian Mapping in the Red Deer River Watershed

The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance works with a range of partners to improve the health of riparian areas across the watershed. We work with scientists to help prioritize areas for conservation and restoration, and we work with partners to support on-the-ground projects.

What is a riparian area?

Riparian areas are productive and biologically-rich shorelines at the edges of streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.  They help to filter and store water, prevent erosion, provide habitat, and can offer protection in the face of flood and drought events.  

Mapping riparian condition

The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance partnered with Fiera Biological Consulting to assess riparian intactness (condition) along 1782 kilometres of shoreline in the Medicine-Blindman Rivers watershed using a GIS-based approach in 2020. This study area was selected because it includes important source water protection zones for the City of Red Deer, and because the area has been identified as a high priority for flood and drought mitigation.

The results of this study provide essential information to municipalities and other partners to help spatially target conservation and restoration efforts. The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance is continuing to work with these partners to identify potential on-the-ground projects and to raise awareness about riparian areas and other natural assets.

The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance is in the final stages of the project “Targeting the Conservation and Restoration of Riparian Areas in the Lower Headwaters and Central Agricultural Zones of the Red Deer River Watershed”. With funding support through the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP) the objectives of the project have been to identify priority riparian areas to focus conservation and restoration activities in the Little Red Deer, Kneehills, Threehills, and Buffalo sub -watersheds while engaging and partnering with local municipalities to identify conservation and restoration activities. The overview of the technical riparian intactness data for this project can be found on the government of Alberta site:

An example of an on the ground community riparian planting workshop:

Project intactness data layer:


Details about the methodology and results can be found in the full project report.