Ministry of Environment
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Report: Predictive Wetland Mapping of the Williston Drainage Basin

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Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategies with the financial support of Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (Peace Region), to complete mapping of wetland and riparian units representing wetland extent and classification [e.g., fen, bog, marsh, swamp, flooded] using a Random Forest machine learning approach for the Williston Lake Watershed. BAPID=6492

Author:  Deepa Filatow and Tyson Carswell

Old Reference Number:  6492

Old Reference System:  BAPID

Date Published:  Jun 2018

Report ID:  54822

Audience:  Government and Public

The Ministry of Environment signed a Letter of Agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program to map wetland and riparian areas within the FWCP-Peace Region (FWCP-Peace). Ecosystem mapping products lacked coverage, and were cost prohibitive to map the remainder of the area. Therefore in 2016, a pilot study was conducted to assess the feasibility of machine-learning algorithms to map riparian areas and wetlands in the area. A Random Forest model approach was used to map riparian areas and wetlands across the FWCP-Peace at a 25m pixel resolution using 48 map codes. The resulting product is superior to publicly available Terrain Resource Information Management (TRIM) wetland polygons as it is more consistent and provides information on wetland and riparian type and distribution. Fieldwork was conducted in the summer of 2017 to support detailed site level inventories and verify model accuracy. The model reliably differentiates wetlands, Terrestrial-uplands (hereafter denoted, Upland, or, T) and water at the scale of the FWCP-Peace and identifies significantly more wetland and riparian area than TRIM. Four classes of wetlands and three riparian classes were differentiated at a moderate level of reliability. The model output was then used to conduct spatial analysis of wetlands related to biogeoclimatic zones, geology and disturbance. The project has delivered a 7.2 million hectare wetland-and-riparian mapping product for the FWCP-Peace. Importantly, methods and products were specifically designed for openness and transparency, thereby increasing value through further use and extension opportunities. Further considerations for extending the product to a wetland management context, as well as data and model improvements as part of continuous improvement cycle are presented herein.

Report Type
  Fish and Aquatic Habitat Information

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