TOTAL Human Footprint:
The Grassland Natural Region occupies almost 96,000 km2 (14% of the province) of southern Alberta stretching from the Rocky Mountain foothills in the west to the Saskatchewan border to the east. In the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains, the Grassland Natural Region receives too little precipitation to support forests but too much precipitation to be considered a desert—hence the predominance of grasses and forbs that characterize the landscape. The region has been extensively cultivated, particularly to the north and west, areas that receive more precipitation. Large areas of semi-arid native prairie remain in the southeast. While grasses predominate, there are a diversity of other vegetation types depending on soil and climatic conditions. For example, trees and shrubs, such as the Narrow-leaf Cottonwood, Silver Sagebrush and Prickly Rose are commonly found in depressions, along creeks, and in coulees and ravines where there is enough moisture to support their growth. Bird species like the Chestnut-collared Longspur, Baird’s Sparrow, and Sprague’s Pipit rely on native prairie habitat for nesting and foraging. Human footprint status and trend are presented for the Grassland Natural Region.
As of 2016, human footprint occupied 57.12% of the Grassland Natural Region. Agriculture was the predominant human footprint, covering 49.59% of the landscape. Transportation (2.66%), energy (2.47%), and urban/industrial (1.47%) footprint all covered similar areas.
Figure: Status of Linear Human Footprint. Density (km/km2) of linear features in the Grassland Natural Region, circa 2016, overall and broken down by linear feature type. Hover over bar or legend to view density of specific linear feature type. Please note low impact seismic lines are not included in the summary of linear footprint density.