Native Prairie Vegetation Inventory (NPVI)

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The classification was completed to a quarter section (160 acre) resolution. Native vegetation was classified in one of six cover classes: tree, shrub, graminoid, riparian, lake or wetland. The percentage of each cover class was estimated to the nearest five percent of each quarter section. The inventory was undertaken using mostly 1991 - 1993, 1:30,000 aerial photography. Data were field checked by the interpreter wherever uncertainties occurred and resource management agency field staff (provincial Agriculture and Environment departments) assisted in field checking to reduce errors.

The spatial data base is in Arc/Info EXPORT (.e00) format and has been compiled with mapped data including Crown ownership and grazing disposition on CD (March 1999). Various mapped products showing different percentages of native vegetation superimposed on land standings have been produced.

The inventory was undertaken by Alberta Environment for the Prairie Conservation Forum to follow-up on an objective in the Alberta Prairie Conservation Action Plan, 1996-2000 to complete identification of native prairie.

The Prairie Conservation Forum is making the information available on this site for use by resource managers, industry, landholders, municipalities, non-government organizations and the general public. If you wish to do more than view the data (for example, perform data manipulation and analysis functions), the CD can be ordered from:

Data Distribution Unit
Resource Data Division
Alberta Environment
12th Floor, Oxbridge Place - 9820 - 106th Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2J6
Tel: (780) 427-7374  Fax: (780) 427-0973

Grassland Region Native Prairie

The Grassland Natural Region of Alberta approximates some twenty-four million 23,955,996 acres (9,694,650 ha)of land, of which, seven million 7,060,995 acres (2,857,480 ha) are under Crown ownership. Ten million 10,239,959 acres (4,143,960 ha), nearly 43% of the region, remains native prairie. Within these native areas, six million 5,754,175 acres (2,328,630 ha) are under Crown ownership, while four million 4,485,117 acres (1,815,060 ha)are on private range.

The Grassland Natural Region is further subdivided into four sub-regions:

  Sub-Region Area (ac.) Area (ha.)  
1. Dry Mixedgrass 11,838,021 4,790,782  
2. Mixedgrass 4,585,062 1,855,549  
3. Northern Fescue 3,844,156 1,555,709  
4. Foothills Fescue 3,688,757 1,492,820  


General Native/Non-Native And Crown/Private Breakdown of the Grassland Natural Region

By Subregion

  Dry Mixedgrass Foothills Fescue Northern Fescue Mixedgrass Subregion Totals
Total Crown Lands 4,898,931 Ac
1,983,373 Ha
346,666 Ac
140,351 Ha
798,798 Ac
323,400 Ha
1,017,452 Ac
411924 Ha
7,061,848 Ac
2,859,048 Ha
Total Native Prairie 6,364,367 Ac
2,576,667 Ha
1,077,239 Ac
436,129 Ha
1,556,170 Ac
630,028 Ha
1,417,422 Ac
573,855 Ha
10,415,198 Ac
4,216,679 Ha
Native Crown 4,185,306 Ac
1,694,456 Ha
187,398 Ac
75,870 Ha
652,104 Ac
264,010 Ha
805,888 Ac
326,270 Ha
5,830,695 Ac
2,360,605 Ha
Private Range 2,179,061 Ac
882,211 Ha
889,841 Ac
360,260 Ha
904,066 Ac
366,019 Ha
611,534 Ac
247,585 Ha
4,584,503 Ac
1,856,074 Ha

This map provides an overview of where the predominant areas of native prairie remain. The map includes only those quarter sections having more than 75 percent native vegetation.


Other Regions

A baseline inventory similar to that undertaken for the Grassland Natural Region is in the planning stages in the Parkland Natural Region.

Beyond the aspen parkland and prairie areas of south east and east central Alberta, native prairie grasslands can be found in various locations across the province, notably in the Foothills Parkland and Montane natural sub-regions, with remnant sites in the Peace River Parkland, especially the Kleskun Hills and south-facing slopes of the Peace River Valley.

The same data set that was compiled for the Native Prairie Vegetation Baseline Inventory is available for the foothills and Eastern Slopes south of Kananaskis Country. Further information is available from:

        Alberta Sustainable Resource Development
        Resource Information Unit, Prairies Area
        2nd Floor, Provincial Building
        200 - 5th Avenue South
        LETHBRIDGE, Alberta T1K 4L1
        Telephone: (403) 381-5624

Environmentally Significant Area inventories are another source of information about native prairie grasslands. See the link to the ESA page on this website, www.albertapcf.org.

top photo by Carla Koenig | RSS