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Human Footprint Map 2012

The most comprehensive representation of human footprint in Alberta.

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The ABMI 2012 Wall-to-Wall Human Footprint is the latest of a series of wall-to-wall footprint maps produced by the ABMI (previous versions: 2010, 2007). These maps provide the most comprehensive representation of human footprint in Alberta. The human footprint information is compiled to generate inventory that includes human footprint attributes and features related to the energy, forestry, and agriculture industries, as well as urban development. All of the inventory features were created and/or verified using a heads-up digitizing of all the human footprint attributes manually interpreted from satellite imagery.


The provincial extent and detail level of the Human Footprint monitoring conducted by ABMI is one of a kind mapping initiatives in Alberta.  Although human footprint monitoring is currently conducted by a host of organizations, including AESRD, Alberta Energy, Forest Management Agreement (FMA) holders, oil and gas industry, and academia among others, each organization often focuses only on a smaller area in the province. Provincial scale human footprint information is core to understanding environmental conditions and trends.

These data are used to support policy development, regional planning, and cumulative effects management decisions throughout Alberta. Under the Government of Alberta Land-use Framework, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development has been developing a Biodiversity Management Framework for the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan. The ABMI 2010 W2W HF map was foundational to the development of the draft terrestrial habitat indicators established under the BMF.


Using satellite imagery, ABMI creates and/or verifies individual Geographic Information System (GIS) layers that are inventories of human footprint related to all types of anthropogenic development in the province. The ABMI uses Base Feature layers provided by the Government of Alberta and remotely imagery as the starting point for this product. Information for the human footprint inventory is aggregated and updated by using satellite imagery to manually interpret and delineate human footprint at a scale 1:15,000 m. The inventory includes only the human footprint areas that are still visible in satellite images as footprints.

Definition of Human Footprint currently used by ABMI:  the temporary or permanent transformation of native ecosystems to support residential, recreational or industrial land uses. Under this definition, human footprint includes the geographic extent of areas under human use that either have lost their natural cover for extended periods of time (e.g., cities, roads, agricultural land, and surface mines) or whose natural cover is periodically reset to earlier successional conditions by industrial activities (e.g., cut blocks and seismic lines). 

This product was put together through the efforts of several people at the ABMI's Geospatial Centre.

More questions? Feel free to contact:

Branko Hricko

GIS Coordinator

Jahan Kariyeva

Geospatial Centre Director


Human Footprint Map Batch Download

To batch download our GIS products, please use the following to access our ftp site. Ftp software supporting resume and transfer is recommended, i.e. FileZilla, etc.

Ftp Server:
Username: data|anonymous
no password required
Path: /GISData/HumanFootprint/

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