Alberta Wetlands: A Law and Policy Guide, Second Edition
by Arlene J. Kwasniak. 2016.
339 pp. ISBN 978-0-919269-53-8. $35.00 (softcover)
Wetlands are among the most valuable natural systems on earth. They store and release surface water, re-charge groundwater, and aid in flood control. They reduce sedimentation and purify water, help control erosion, and sequester carbon. They can be hotbeds of biological diversity and serve as important habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other animals. They provide vast ecological goods and services and have aesthetic, economic, heritage, recreational, and intrinsic values. Notwithstanding the significant values, functions, and services of wetlands, it was not until the middle/latter 20th century that the need for wetland protection and conservation was visibly recognized. Even though efforts are now universally made to protect and conserve them, losses continue.
Laws and policies have a powerful and definitive role to play in whether a wetland is protected, impacted, restored, or lost. Alberta Wetlands: A Law and Policy Guide, Second Edition (Guide) provides macroscopic to microscopic descriptions and explanations of many of the major threads in the tangled web of laws and policies the implementation of which can impact wetlands for better or worse. It looks not only at laws and policies that directly apply to wetland impacts, such as wetland drainage laws, or wetland conservation policies, but also at the myriad of regulatory and other legal influences that more indirectly influence and determine the fate of wetlands. These include legal rules and frameworks concerning common law, property rights, energy resource exploration and development, residential, commercial and industrial development, and those relating to dispositions on and use of public land, including for agricultural and forestry operations. It also looks at legal approaches to protect, restore, and recognize wetlands and their values, including government designation, environmental assessment, international recognition, land use planning, economic instruments, development restrictions, and wildlife laws. The Guide attempts to put the legal concepts and rules within a context so that they will be understandable to readers from a variety of backgrounds. For example, the Guide provides information on our Constitution and on which levels of government have the right to legislate areas of law that could impact wetlands, as well as on the various sources of laws and legal directives and the ways they can relate to wetlands.
The Guide contains eight primers that offer general instruction on areas of law or jurisdiction, sixteen chapters on particular areas of law that can impact wetlands, a chart identifying and describing tools for municipalities and others that could be used to protect wetlands and prevent or address impacts on them, and a detailed bibliography. This is the Second Edition of the Guide, current to February 2016. The first Edition, published in 2001, is significantly out of date primarily owing to substantial legislative and policy changes and to shifts in government, industry, and community approaches towards wetland conservation. The Second Edition is fundamentally a new work that updates, revises, rewrites, and adds extensive material to the First Edition.