Ducks Unlimited Canada delivers a new made-for-Alberta wetland field guide

New resource makes it easier for Albertans to identify and protect some of the province’s most important and at-risk natural areas.

Stonewall, Manitoba, CANADA

Edmonton, Alta., March 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Despite playing an essential role in maintaining healthy farms, acreages and communities, wetlands in Alberta continue to be lost. It’s estimated that up to 70 per cent of these valuable ecosystems have disappeared in settled areas. Today, a new easy-to-use field resource created by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is helping Albertans identify, understand and protect these precious habitats.  

“Alberta landowners and land users who are not sure if they have wetlands on their property can use the Alberta Wetland Classification System Field Guide to identify these ecosystems and to help inform their activities and land-management decisions,” explains Kristyn Mayner, project lead and wetland stewardship specialist with DUC.

Wetlands play a vital role in flood and drought prevention, groundwater recharge and carbon storage while also supporting biodiversity and recreation. And, since Canada is one of the few developed nations that doesn’t have a comprehensive national wetland inventory and monitoring system, the Alberta Wetland Classification System Field Guide is an important tool that can help avoid the loss or destruction of these valuable areas.

“Wetland identification and classification is the first step in avoiding or minimizing potential impacts to these critical ecosystems,” says Mayner.

The field guide offers 24 detailed fact sheets for each wetland class, form, and type by verifying the landscape, soil, water, chemistry and vegetation characteristics for each wetland class. Illustrative cross-sections help users visualize these features.

An entire section of the guide has also been dedicated to common wetland plants. The vegetation-based classification key and common species guide provides tips and photographs of the plants at various life stages and a confirmation of the types of wetlands the plant occupies as habitat.

In 2015, the Province of Alberta implemented the Alberta Wetland Classification System (AWCS) to promote a consistent understanding of wetlands. This classification system supports other legislation and policies related to wetlands, such as the Water Act, Public Lands Act, and the Alberta Wetland Policy.

“While the AWCS is a highly important document, its contents tend to be very technical and not overly practical for use in the field,” explains Tracy Scott, head of government relations for DUC in Alberta  “Our intention is for the field guide to act as a visual representation of the AWCS. We incorporated over 250 images, ranging from photos that show seasonal variations in water levels to close-ups of plant species leaves, flowers and fruit. We hope the field guide will serve as a valuable resource for anyone working on the land or making decisions that impact wetlands and their functions.”

The field guide was recently named the winner of the Peggy Thompson Publication Award, which is presented annually by the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists to recognize high standards of achievement in publishing biological information conveying an understanding of the concepts and application of biological sciences.

The guide is available as a free download, or a hardcopy can be purchased here. DUC also offers custom training events for groups interested in learning more about wetland classification in Alberta.

For more information about DUC’s Alberta Wetland Classification System Field Guide, check out these videos:


Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations, Indigenous Peoples and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. To learn more about DUC’s innovative environmental solutions and services, visit


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