Natural Regions:

TOTAL AREA:
49,071 km2

TOTAL Human Footprint:
2,939 km2

Region Overview

The Rocky Mountain Natural Region stretches for over 700 km along Alberta’s western border, covering approximately 49,000 km2 (7.4% of the province). This dramatic landscape features jagged mountain peaks, glaciers and snowfields, forest-covered mountain slopes, and an abundance of streams. The variation in terrain, climate, and latitude has created niches for a whole range of species. High altitude alpine meadows are blanketed by dwarf shrubs, grasses, and flowering plants, which support species like the Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, American Pipit, Hoary Marmot, and Grizzly Bear during the summer months. The rocky terrain is also hospitable for some species like the Mountain Goat and Pika. Moving down in elevation to the conifer-covered mountain slopes, Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, Lodgepole Pine, and White Spruce dominate in the canopy, while species like False Azalea, Bearberry, and Buffaloberry are commonly found in the understory. Bird diversity includes species found nowhere else in Alberta, such as the Varied Thrush, Clark’s Nutcracker and Townsend’s Warbler. Human footprint status and trend is presented for the Rocky Mountain Natural Region.

Status

As of 2016, human footprint was low in the Rocky Mountain Natural Region, covering 5.99% of the landscape. More than half of this footprint was composed of forestry footprint which occupied 3.26%. Agriculture footprint covered almost 1% of the region. The remaining footprint categories all covered < 1% of the region.

Human Footprint Type Area (km2) Area (%)
Total Human Footprint 2,939 6.0
Agriculture 471 1.0
Energy 280 0.6
Forestry 1,600 3.3
Human-created Water Bodies 128 0.3
Transportation 294 0.6
Urban/Industrial 162 0.3

FIGURE: Summary of percentage cover of total human footprint broken down by human footprint category in the Rocky Mountain Natural Region, circa 2016.

Total Human Footprint 6.0%

Agriculture 1.0%

Energy 0.6%

Forestry 3.3%

Human-created Water Bodies 0.3%

Transportation 0.6%

Urban/Industrial 0.3%

Trend

Between 1999 and 2016, the total area of human footprint in the Rocky Mountain Natural Region increased by 1.42%, from 4.57% to 5.99%. Most of this increase in human footprint was driven by the expansion of forestry footprint, which increased by just over 1% (from 2.20% to 3.26%). 

Human Footprint Type 1999 (km2) 2016 (km2) Change (km2)
Total Human Footprint 2,243 2,939 + 697
Agriculture 432 471 + 39
Energy 172 280 + 108
Forestry 1,080 1,600 + 520
Human-created Water Bodies 128 128 0
Transportation 275 294 + 20
Urban/Industrial 142 162 + 20
Human Footprint Type 1999 (%) 2016 (%) Change (%)
Total Human Footprint 4.6 6.0 + 1.4
Agriculture 0.9 1.0 + 0.1
Energy 0.3 0.6 + 0.2
Forestry 2.2 3.3 + 1.1
Human-created Water Bodies 0.3 0.3 0.0
Transportation 0.6 0.6 + 0.0
Urban/Industrial 0.3 0.3 + 0.0

FIGURE: Trend in the percentage area of total human footprint, and by human footprint category in the Rocky Mountain Natural Region between 1999 and 2016. Click on the entries in the legend to turn human footprint categories on and off.