Riparian areas – those wet areas around water bodies – are often overlooked and underrated. Yet with proper design and management, they can become the most productive parts of the landscape, magnets for diverse wildlife, and moderators of flood and drought cycles. In this interactive online course, the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society (AWES) and Cows and Fish will help Alberta land owners and managers maximize the potential of their riparian areas to provide diverse benefits for their lands and watersheds.
The course will be implemented over Zoom (links and details provided to participants) in five sessions, 7-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays from August 4th to 18th. Each session will include a mixture of live presentations, activities, and Q&A.
In the first couple of sessions, participants will learn what riparian areas are, how riparian areas function, and how this functioning is affected by the health of the riparian area. Participants will then be given tools to assess the health of their own riparian areas, along with a framework for developing a management plan for it.
In the third and fourth sessions, participants will learn about the range of goods and services healthy riparian areas can provide, such as water quality, flood and drought resilience, biodiversity habitat, forage, biomass, food, nutrient cycling, pest suppression, pollination, and more. Participants will then learn how management and restoration activities can support these goods and services. Content will be customized according to the interests and backgrounds of participants.
Participants will be expected to spend 2-4 hours outside of session time in developing their management plans. In the fifth session, participants will have the opportunity to share draft versions of these plans. Course facilitators and other participants will provide feedback and advice.
Upon completion of the course, alumni can request to receive free consultation services from AWES and Cows and Fish staff over email, over the phone, or in person. These services will be provided on a first come first serve basis as long as funds are available.
Course Cost and Funding
The fee for this course is $20 per household unit. This fee has been greatly reduced, as the majority of course costs are being covered by a grant from the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP), administered by Alberta Environment and Parks. The primary objective of WRRP is to increase the natural ability of the province’s watersheds to reduce the intensity, magnitude, duration and effects of flooding and drought through watershed mitigation measures. Widespread implementation of the riparian restoration and management practices taught in this course has the potential to mitigate flooding and drought throughout the watershed while also providing direct benefits to landowners.
*Note: This course is only available to individuals or organizations who own or manage land in the province of Alberta. Examples of eligible participants include but are not limited to farmers, ranchers, acreage owners, or the staff of municipalities or land trusts.