Land-use Planning Regions:

TOTAL AREA:
83,774 km2

TOTAL Human Footprint:
43,118 km2

Region Overview

The South Saskatchewan Region encompasses nearly 84,000 km2 (13% of the province) in southern Alberta. The Grassland Natural Region is the largest ecosystem, representing 78% of the landbase; the Rocky Mountain (15%), Foothills (2%), and Parkland (5%) Natural Regions all cover much smaller areas. The South Saskatchewan region has been transformed over the past century because of agricultural production and human settlement. Despite this conversion, large areas of native grassland still remain. Other important industries in the region include: energy development, forestry, and tourism and recreation. Human footprint status and trend is summarized for the South Saskatchewan Region.

Status

As of 2016, human footprint occupied 51.47% of the South Saskatchewan Region. Covering 42.49% of the region, agriculture was the dominant human footprint. The remaining human footprint types in decreasing order of area occupied include: transportation (2.68%), energy (2.15%), urban (1.95%), forestry (1.23%), and human-created waterbodies (0.98%). 

Human Footprint Type Area (km2) Area (%)
Total Human Footprint 43,118 51.5
Agriculture 35,596 42.5
Energy 1,801 2.1
Forestry 1,030 1.2
Human-created Water Bodies 821 1.0
Transportation 2,245 2.7
Urban/Industrial 1,634 1.9

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

Total Human Footprint 51.5%

Agriculture 42.5%

Energy 2.1%

Forestry 1.2%

Human-created Water Bodies 1.0%

Transportation 2.7%

Urban/Industrial 1.9%

Trend

Between 1999 and 2016, the total area of human footprint in the South Saskatchewan Region increased by 2.55%, from 48.92% to 51.47%. All human footprint types demonstrated small increases in area during this time frame, with the largest increases attributed to agriculture (+1.15%) and energy (+0.91%) footprints. 

Human Footprint Type 1999 (km2) 2016 (km2) Change (km2)
Total Human Footprint 40,982 43,118 + 2,136
Agriculture 34,632 35,596 + 963
Energy 1,039 1,801 + 762
Forestry 729 1,030 + 302
Human-created Water Bodies 720 821 + 101
Transportation 2,061 2,245 + 184
Urban/Industrial 1,399 1,634 + 235
Human Footprint Type 1999 (%) 2016 (%) Change (%)
Total Human Footprint 48.9 51.5 + 2.5
Agriculture 41.3 42.5 + 1.1
Energy 1.2 2.1 + 0.9
Forestry 0.9 1.2 + 0.4
Human-created Water Bodies 0.9 1.0 + 0.1
Transportation 2.5 2.7 + 0.2
Urban/Industrial 1.7 1.9 + 0.3

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