UPSTREAM RESILIENCY THROUGH ACTION ON THE AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPECategory: 2019, Climate, Current, EcoCity Edmonton
The City of Edmonton sits on the North Saskatchewan River, within the North Saskatchewan River watershed, one of Alberta’s most populated watersheds. This watershed is facing wetland loss due to heavy development and climate change. Upstream of Edmonton in Leduc County and Parkland County, agriculture is one of the primary industries. On-farm practices and livestock management practices affect the water systems including the North Saskatchewan River. As the largest group of private landowners, farmers and ranchers are uniquely positioned to take wide-scale actions towards climate resiliency.
Environmental restoration activities that take place in Leduc and Parkland Counties can directly impact the Greater Edmonton area. The goal of this project is to use the ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) model to improve climate resiliency in the Greater Edmonton area.
Through this project, farmers and ranchers in Leduc County and Parkland County will be engaged to establish 43 acres of natural infrastructure projects on marginal or environmentally-sensitive agricultural land. This project will enhance wetland ecosystems and develop sustainable livestock management practices which will increase water retention, filter water, decrease overland flow, reduce sedimentation, lower erosion risk, and improve water quality by reducing nutrient loading. Project activities may include site-specific techniques such as installing riparian fencing and offsite watering systems to reduce the impact of livestock on wetlands or waterways; installation of bank erosion control efforts such as willow stakes; increasing biomass or diversity of riparian vegetation; or other activities which are expected to have the outcome of improving watershed health for the North Saskatchewan River watershed. Livestock will be watered using solar or gravity fed off-site watering systems. Additionally, this initiative will enhance ecosystem services such as carbon capture leading to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.
ALUS projects will benefit the surrounding and downstream users of the North Saskatchewan River Watershed Basin. Communities downstream of Leduc and Parkland Counties will benefit during extreme weather events by having decreased volumes of overland flow, less extreme fluctuations in waterways, and less damage resulting from sediment and flood debris. The Greater Edmonton area will benefit by having increased biodiversity, and more citizens will be engaged in conservation and actively building climate resiliency.