| ||Alberta rangelands | Range management on public lands
Rangeland ecosystems have evolved over thousands of years, adapting to the soils, climate and natural disturbance factors of the Northern Great Plains, especially the influence of wild grazers like bison. Rangeland (syn. Range) is land supporting indigenous or introduced vegetation that is either grazed or has the potential to be grazed and is managed as a natural ecosystem. Rangeland includes grassland, grazeable forestland, shrubland, pastureland and riparian areas (Public Lands Range Resource Management Program 2002). Rangelands provide about 20% of forage required by the Alberta beef cattle herd.
As well, rangelands provide a wide variety of other environmental, social and economic benefits including:
Alberta rangelands are extensive and diverse. The area of Alberta rangelands has been estimated at 7.4 million hectares and includes five natural regions:
- a storehouse of biodiversity
- habitat for numerous wildlife and fish species
- a source of water
- a source of wood products
- opportunities for recreation, research and education.
Range Management on Public Lands
- Grassland Natural Region (51% of Alberta Rangeland)
- Parkland Natural Region (21% of Alberta Rangeland)
- Foothills Natural Region (6% of Alberta Rangeland)
- Rocky Mountain Natural Region (part of above 6%)
- Boreal Forest Natural Region (22% of Alberta Rangeland)
About 68% of Alberta rangelands are under public ownership and administration. The Rangeland Management Branch of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development is responsible for about 2.4 million hectares of rangeland, which is under grazing leases, licenses, or permits to farmers and ranchers throughout the province. Range management on public lands is guided by the integrated resource management philosophy. Livestock producers that utilize public grazing land are responsible for the stewardship and management of the range resource.
Rangeland Agrologists and Range Management staff provide feedback and technical support to grazing disposition holders on grazing practices and the health of rangeland. Grazing opportunities are based on the natural capacity (climate, soil, vegetation) of the rangeland, management needs to sustain wildlife, timber, fisheries and other resources, and also the range management strategies that are applied.
For more information on rangeland management and Alberta Public Lands, visit the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development website at: http://srd.alberta.ca/lands/managingpublicland/rangemanagement/default.aspx
Diana Brierley, Natural Resources Specialist,
Barry Adams, Regional Range Manager, Southern Range Management, Sustainable Resource Development