Riparian Areas

What are riparian areas?

Riparian area

Riparian areas are strips of green vegetation influenced by water and found around creeks, sloughs, rivers, and lakes.

Riparian areas are found in all natural regions of the Province. We derive many values and uses from riparian areas, such as:

  • Agriculture
  • Biodiversity
  • Clean water
  • Fish and wildlife habitat
  • Flood resilience

Functions of Riparian Areas

To continue providing beneficial soil, water and habitat, riparian areas must remain healthy and carry out important functions, such as:

  • Building and maintaining banks and shores
  • Creating primary productivity like forage and browse
  • Filtering and buffering water
  • Maintaining biodiversity
  • Recharging aquifers
  • Reducing and dissipating energy created by the water body (example: stream flow and lake waves)
  • Storing water and energy
  • Trapping and storing sediment

Support Documents and Assessment Tools

Learn more about riparian areas and riparian health. Visit:

The department partners with the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish) to promote healthy riparian areas and their sustainable management. For additional information about this topic, please visit the Cows and Fish website at:


  • Riparian health assessment information
  • Riparian health assessment workbooks
  • Riparian health inventory forms
  • User manuals for streams and small rivers, large rivers, and lakes, wetlands and sloughs

Riparian Health Assessment Workbooks

To answer the question "Is this riparian area healthy?" consider doing a Riparian Health Assessment using Riparian Health Assessment Field Workbooks.

These are pocket guides for landowners to easily determine the health of their riparian area and an education and awareness aid for resource managers.

For streams and small rivers, visit the Riparian Health Assessment page of the Cows and Fish website at:

For lakes, ponds, wetlands and sloughs, visit the Riparian Health Assessment page of the Cows and Fish website at:


Page Information

Updated: Sep 27, 2018