Biological Diversity and Alberta Law


  • P. S. Elder



Biological diversity refers to the rich variety of all life forms presently on Earth. It is important to preserve and maximize biological diversity, because of its intrinsic value and its value to human survival and wellbeing. In order to do so, the author argues, a broad ecosystem management approach to species conservation is necessary. Numerous Alberta statutes are examined comprehensively to determine their effects and potential effects on biological diversity. The ecosystem management approach to species conservation is not prominent in Alberta law. Outside of National Park land, very little of Alberta's area offers protection for biological diversity. While the administration of some Acts (such as the EPEA and the Natural Resources Conservation Act) shows promise, a lack of specific duties permits decisions adverse to biological diversity. Changes to Alberta's planning legislation may be beneficial, through the regulation of development on private land. Because of the prime importance given to economic development in various Alberta statutes, the possibility exists for significant adverse impacts to biological diversity. The author recommends a number of legal reforms. These include the addition of explicit purpose sections in relevant legislation, the imposition of a positive duty on decision-makers to consider sustainability and biological diversity, and the creation of incentive programs to encourage private property owners to set aside habitat areas.