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Inaugural Core Report: Birds and Plants in the Lower Athabasca

Development impacting environmental landscape in Lower Athabasca Region

EDMONTON, February 26, 2009 – Today, the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) released its inaugural Core Report titled “The Status of Birds and Vascular Plants in Alberta’s Lower Athabasca Planning Region 2009 – Preliminary Assessment" which serves as a benchmark for the environmental health of the region.

The report states that approximately 7% of the landscape in the Lower Athabasca has been altered by human activities including agriculture, energy, and forestry operations. While there is clearly an impact from industrial and commercial development, the report concludes that the region’s living resources are 94% intact.

“ABMI’s first core report summarizes the status of biodiversity – or the health of the environment – in the Lower Athabasca Planning Region,” offers Kirk Andries, ABMI Executive Director. “It sets the baseline health of living resources in the region that will be used to support land-use planning and track how the environment is changing in the decades to come.”

The Lower Athabasca Region, located north and east of Edmonton and home to most of Alberta’s oil sands development, supplies billions of dollars annually in environmental goods and services, such as clean water and air, recreational fishing and hunting, and habitat for thousands of wildlife species. The region accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 0.5% of global pulp fibre production. As a result, the economic and social well-being of Alberta is closely linked to the ecological health of this vast environment. As a new era of land-use planning in Alberta rolls out, the status of biodiversity will be fundamental to setting regional ecological benchmarks and objectives, and to providing the foundation for evaluating the future outcomes of resource management across the province.

Over the next few years, the ABMI will broaden its assessment of biodiversity in the Lower Athabasca to include the status of lichens, mosses, soil arthropods, fungi, wetland invertebrates, habitat quality and other measures. In time, these same assessments will be available for all other planning regions as well as customized regions throughout the province.

  View the Report (PDF 626Kb)  

Report Q & A (PDF 139Kb)

ABMI Fact Sheets (PDF 224Kb)

ABMI Technical Fact Sheets (PDF 422Kb)

Download print version of the Report (PDF 18622Kb)

 “Both Alberta’s Oil Sands Plan and the provincial Land-use Framework identify the need for organizations to collaboratively monitor environmental performance and manage the impacts of development on land, water and air,” adds Andries. “The work the ABMI is doing, and the scientific data we are collecting, will play a significant role as the province implements a cumulative effects approach to managing the environment and ecosystem. With this program Alberta can be proud that it is a global leader in monitoring environmental health.”


The ABMI, the only organization of its kind in North America, conducts world-class, independent, science-based monitoring of the changing state of Alberta’s species, habitats, and ecosystems – the province’s ecological goods and services.

For more information, please contact:
Jim Herbers
Director, Information Centre
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
Telephone: (780) 492-5766