Rangelands refers to any land supporting vegetation that can be consumed by domestic livestock and wildlife, and is managed as a natural ecosystem.
In Alberta, public rangelands represent some of the most ecologically diverse areas within the province. These areas include the relatively arid and flat grasslands in the south, the rugged, high elevation Rocky Mountain region bordering British Columbia, to the extensive boreal forest region in the north.
These diverse ecosystems produce an equally diverse array of tangible and intangible products, which are important economic goods. Tangible products include:
- forage for grazing and browsing animals,
- plant and animal genes,
- recreational opportunities,
- some wood products,
- water and
- wildlife habitat.
Rangelands also produce intangible products such as:
- natural beauty and wilderness,
- satisfying important societal values.
These intangible products are often as economically important as the more tangible commodities.
Alberta’s rangelands are either owned privately or managed as public land through tenures or leases. Public rangelands cover approximately 8.4 million acres (3.4 million hectares) of Alberta’s landscape. The Ministry of Environment and Parks manages these rangelands to maintain sustainable grazing and biodiversity.
There are a number of provincial and federal statutes and regulations that have implications for the management of rangelands in Alberta.
The Public Lands Act and the Forest Reserves Act are the primary Acts in Alberta through which regulatory requirements related to rangelands is managed. The purpose of these Acts is to govern all aspects of administration of public land and public forested land in the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve.
The Public Lands Administration Regulation and Recreational Access Regulation are the primary regulations that further guide the management of Alberta’s rangelands.
Updated: Jan 30, 2018