In Alberta, approximately 8.2 million hectares (12.4% of the province as of 2010) are designated as protected. Environment Canada maintains 8 protected areas in Alberta, including 4 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) and 4 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs), comprising over 58 thousand hectares of the province's protected lands and waters.

Map of Environment Canada's Protected Areas in Alberta

Map of Environment Canada's protected areas in Alberta. (3) Richardson Lake MBS (4) Saskatoon Lake MBS (2) Red Deer MBS (1) Inglewood MBS (3) Meanook NWA (1) Blue Quills NWA (4) Spiers Lake NWA (2) Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield NWA

Long description for the Map

Map showing the number of Environment Canada's protected areas in Alberta totalling 8 divided among 4 NWAs and 4 MBSs.

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List of Protected Areas in Alberta

The tables below contain information about the NWAs and MBSs shown on the map above. In addition to the name, year of establishment, and size of each protected area, the tables indicate how these sites fit into national and international networks of conservation areas. The following entities may be noted:

Ramsar: Wetland of International Importance

Important Bird Area (IBA)

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN)

Biosphere reserve of the The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB)

National Wildlife Areas

Spiers Lake NWA picture

Photo: © Environment Canada
Spiers Lake NWA.

NWA NameYear establishedSize in hectares
Blue Quills NWA196897
Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield NWA200344,999
Meanook NWA1979214
Spiers Lake NWA198064

Migratory Birds Sanctuary

Richardson Lake MBS picture

Photo: © Environment Canada
Richardson Lake MBS

MBS NameYear establishedSize in hectares
Inglewood MBS1968111
Red Deer MBS1924129
Richardson Lake MBS194910,798
Saskatoon Lake MBS19481,150

Access and Permitting

Although access to NWAs is not restricted, the primary purpose of these areas is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats, and therefore most NWAs are not equipped with facilities to accommodate public visitation. Unless otherwise posted, all recreational activities are prohibited within NWAs.

In Alberta, access to the CFB Suffield NWA is restricted. CFB Suffield NWA is administered by the Department of National Defence and located within the restricted space of the CFB Suffield.

Although access to most MBSs is not restricted either, the primary intent of these sanctuaries is to protect migratory birds, and therefore hunting, as well as disturbing or molesting migratory birds, their eggs, nests or habitat, is prohibited.

A permit may be obtained from the Minister of the Environment authorizing the conduct of certain activities in an NWA or MBS, if the Minister or delegate is of the opinion that the proposed activity:

  • will not interfere with the conservation of wildlife; or
  • is consistent with the purpose for which the protected area was established; and
  • is consistent with the management plan for the protected area.

Contact Information

Additional information on entry, prohibited activities and permits in Environment Canada's protected areas is provided on the Management and Activities web pages of the NWA and MBS. For more isformation on Environment Canada's protected areas in Alberta, please contact the regional Environment Canada office:

Environment Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
Eastgate Offices
9250 – 49th Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
T6B 1K5
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

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