Shorelands refer to the beds and shores of all lakes, rivers, streams, and all the permanent and naturally occurring water bodies within Alberta.
In Alberta, lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands cover approximately 2.5 percent of the landscape. Associated with each of these water bodies is a continuum of sensitive lands separated into three distinct management zones collectively known as the nearshore area:
Littoral zone – A region of shallow submerged lands within a water body where sunlight can penetrate and which is very biologically productive
- Riparian zone – the adjoining vegetated uplands that are directly influenced by the water body
- Shore zone – A region comprising the exposed lake or river bed that forms the shores of the water body
In Alberta, the province generally owns and is responsible for managing the beds and shores of water bodies. Similarly, the province owns and is responsible for managing riparian areas where the adjoining land is also Crown land such as in the forested regions of Alberta or on leased, public lands in the settled areas.
In much of Alberta however, private lands border provincial water bodies and, in such instances, Public Land Managers in the Lands Division work with landowners, municipalities and other resource management agencies to cooperatively manage sensitive provincial shorelands.