In August 2009, the Alberta Water Council kicked off the Provincial Ecological Aquatic Criteria for Health (PEACH) Project Team. The objective of this team is to develop a suite of criteria that can be used to identify areas that are significant to the maintenance of aquatic ecosystem health. In order to do this, the project team built on the Government of Alberta's Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA) report, which was updated and released in late 2009. The ESA process uses the science of systematic conservation planning and GIS technology to identify and map those areas of the province that are important to the long-term maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem processes. While some aquatic criteria were included in identifying the ESAs, a recommendation was made to include a more comprehensive assessment of aquatic ecosystems.
In January 2010, the Council released the final report from the PEACH project team, titled Provincial Ecological Criteria for Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems. The report outlines seven criteria that can be used to identify areas that are significant to the maintenance of aquatic ecosystem health. This work is a first, concrete step towards fully including the aquatic ecosystem lens in this type of work in Alberta. Subsequent steps in the process will need to identify available.
The PEACH Project Team worked according to an approved Terms of Reference and under an abbreviated project timeline in order to inform the current Land Use Framework planning process that is underway in Alberta. A report completed by a consultant was also used to inform the team's work and will be posted soon.