Land-use Planning Regions:

TOTAL AREA:
93,212 km2

TOTAL Human Footprint:
8,081 km2

Region Overview

The Lower Athabasca Region encompasses an area of 93,458 km2 (14 %) in northeastern Alberta. This region largely overlaps the Central Mixedwood Natural Subregion, which is characterized by a mix of Trembling Aspen dominated deciduous forests, Trembling Aspen-White Spruce mixedwood forests, and White Spruce-Jack Pine coniferous stands in the uplands, and wet, poorly drained fens and bogs in lowland areas. Energy development in the Athabasca and Cold Lake Oil Sands Areas and forestry are the two dominant land use activities. These land uses along with mineral extraction, agriculture, and tourism, have led to an increase in human disturbance across the landbase. Human footprint status and trend is summarized for the Lower Athabasca Region.

Status

As of 2016, human footprint occupied 8.67% of the Lower Athabasca Region. Agriculture (2.79%), forestry (2.41%), and energy (2.14%) footprint covered similar areas of the region. The remaining footprint types each covered < 1% of the region.

Human Footprint Type Area (km2) Area (%)
Total Human Footprint 8,081 8.7
Agriculture 2,601 2.8
Energy 1,995 2.1
Forestry 2,246 2.4
Human-created Water Bodies 56 0.1
Transportation 429 0.5
Urban/Industrial 764 0.8

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

Total Human Footprint 8.7%

Agriculture 2.8%

Energy 2.1%

Forestry 2.4%

Human-created Water Bodies 0.1%

Transportation 0.5%

Urban/Industrial 0.8%

Trend

Between 1999 and 2016, the total area of human footprint in the Lower Athabasca Region increased by 2.97%, from 5.70% to 8.67%. This increase was mainly due to the expansion of forestry footprint, which increased by 1.28% from 1.13% to 2.41%, and energy footprint, which increased by 1.01% from 1.13% to 2.14%. 

Human Footprint Type 1999 (km2) 2016 (km2) Change (km2)
Total Human Footprint 5,313 8,081 + 2,768
Agriculture 2,526 2,601 + 75
Energy 1,053 1,995 + 941
Forestry 1,053 2,246 + 1,193
Human-created Water Bodies 37 56 + 19
Transportation 317 429 + 112
Urban/Industrial 308 764 + 457
Human Footprint Type 1999 (%) 2016 (%) Change (%)
Total Human Footprint 5.7 8.7 + 3.0
Agriculture 2.7 2.8 + 0.1
Energy 1.1 2.1 + 1.0
Forestry 1.1 2.4 + 1.3
Human-created Water Bodies 0.0 0.1 + 0.0
Transportation 0.3 0.5 + 0.1
Urban/Industrial 0.3 0.8 + 0.5

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