Environmentally Significant Land

ESAs in the MD of Foothills

The MD is rich in significant natural landscapes, key wildlife areas and important fish habitats. These resources are part of the Municipality's natural capital which should be conserved. The MD uses the guidelines provided by Alberta Environmental Protection to identify Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) throughout the Municipality.

ESAs are defined in Appendix D of the MDP 2010 (PDF) 

One of the goals stated in the MDP 2010 is as follows:

Protect the Municipal District's natural capital with emphasis on the Environmentally Significant Areas, surface water features and landscapes of high scenic value for future generations.

Parkland and Foothills Environments

Parkland environment provides outstanding biodiversity, and a matrix of wildlife movement corridors in the MD, while the foothills environment is valuable for watershed and habitat protection, as well as providing some of the most spectacular scenery to be found in the Calgary Region.

Water courses and water bodies

Water courses and water bodies refer to, streams, lakes, wetlands and their riparian areas. These areas provide a number of important benefits, some of which include:

  • Shoreline vegetation creates natural windbreaks across the landscape
  • Visual appeal
  • Habitat area for wildlife
  • Corridors for wildlife migration
  • Allowing aquifer re-charge (wetlands are especially important here)
  • Areas of especially high plant productivity which support bio-diversity.
  • Breeding and spawning grounds, nursery habitat and food for various species of fish.
  • Riparian areas serve as nutrient traps for nitrogen and phosphorus, and filters for surface water pollutants.
  • Helping to maintain biospheric stability by supporting plants that are efficient photo-synthesizers which produce significant amounts of oxygen, and bacteria which process excess nitrates and nitrogenous pollutants and turn them into inert nitrogen gas.
  • Serving as outdoor laboratories and living classrooms for the study and appreciation of natural history, ecology and biology, and serving generally as an education and research resource.
  • Providing recreation areas for fishing, boating, hiking, bird watching, photography, camping and other uses.
  • Stormwater management functions e.g. wetlands provide for retention and re-infiltration, while watercourses may provide conveyance of stormwater.

Objectives from MDP 2010

One of the objectives stated in MDP 2010 is to support the development and implementation of science-informed policy regarding the integrity of rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and the conservation of riparian areas.

To this end, the MD approved the Riparian Setback Matrix Model and provides information in the Developer Guide.