Managing our natural areas

The desire to protect natural environments in Calgary dates back to 1914, when the Mawson Plan identified riverbank protection as a priority for Calgarians. These days, The City is committed to not only protecting natural areas in Calgary but actively managing them too. Our Natural Area Management Plan was developed to protect the long-term viability of natural areas.

About the city's natural area management plan

The plan was completed in 1994 and establishes an overall policy direction for the protection, management, public use and enjoyment, acquisition and stewardship of Calgary's natural heritage.

The Natural Area Management​ plan is governed by the following policies:

  1. Representative and viable habitat types will be protected and maintained as an integral part of the parks and open space system.
  2. Designated natural park lands will be managed in manner which, by intent, will maintain the natural character and integrity of these sites.
  3. Informed public, corporate and community participation, stewardship and partnerships for the acquisition, management, research and protection of appropriate natural environments are encouraged and welcomed.
  4. Year-round enjoyment and use by all Calgarians will be encouraged with appropriate sensitivity to environmental impact and safety. Where recreational use and the long-term survival of significant habitats conflict, protection of the resource will take precedence.
  5. The City will work with adjacent municipalities to cooperatively protect contiguous natural habitat.
  6. Natural areas will be acquired by a number of methods including; developer dedication as Environmental Reserve, donations, land exchange or outright purchase.

The plan also serves as a valuable foundation for numerous documents that provide direction to protecting and managing Calgary's Park system and ecological habitats and wildlife, such as the Open Space PlanWetland Conservation PlanEnvironmental Reserve Setback Policy, and the Nose Hill Trail and Pathway Plan.

What the Natural Area Management Plan means for Calgarians

Management of natural areas changes the way some of Calgary's park sites look as well as how they can be used. For example, maintenance methods like mowing and weed control will be different for natural habitat areas than for ornamental parks. As well, people and their pets may be restricted to certain parts of natural environment areas in order to protect the plants and animals native to the site.

There are a number of benefits to protecting natural areas. These include environmental benefits such as erosion control; economic benefits such as the reduction of the damage by floods when low lying river lands are set aside as park space; and social benefits which include recreation, relaxation and the fostering of an understanding of the importance of the natural world to our well-being.

Comments or questions about Calgary's Natural Area Management Plan or Calgary's Natural Parks may directed to 311 or 403-268-CITY(2489) if calling from outside of Calgary.​​​