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      Biosphere Reserve Information



© photos, Guillaume Pech
  General Description   Waterton Biosphere Reserve and National Park is situated in the extreme south-west of the Province of Alberta and encompasses a section of the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains extending from the Continental Divide to the edge of the Canadian Great Plains to the east. The Glacier Biosphere Reserve and National Park in Montana, USA is located to the south of the area.
The steep environmental gradients from the Continental Divide to the prairies have created an unusual rich mosaic of habitats with their associated flora and fauna. The biosphere reserve covers prairie grasslands, aspen grove forests, subalpine forests, alpine tundra and meadows, cliffs, lakes and freshwater wetlands as well as disturbed, heavily grazed land in the prairies.
Waterton has a permanent population of 279 people and a seasonal population of about 2,250 during the summer peak season (1996). Major source of income is tourism which mainly takes place in the buffer zone. Agriculture, especially livestock raising and sustainable forest use within the ‘Blood Indian Reserve’, is of importance mainly in the transition zone.
The biosphere reserve organizes or helps co-sponsor public seminars or forums on matters that attract local community interest or concerns and also arranges outings for students.
  Major ecosystem type   Mixed mountain and highland systems; lakes and freshwater wetlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Prairie grasslands including Danthonia spp., Festuca scabrella and Koeleria macrantha; aspen grove forests with Populus tremuloides, Amelanchier alnifolia and Heracleum lanatum; alpine tundra/high meadows characterized by Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), limber pine (P. flexilis) and whitebark pine (P. albicaulis); arctic-alpine communities above the tree line dominated by Dryas octopetala and Polemonium viscosum; upper subalpine forests with Larix lyallii, Luzula hitchcockii, Picea engelmannii and Abies lasiocarpa; lower subalpine forests dominated by Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa); deciduous forest, coniferous forests dominated by Douglas fir and limber pine; cliffs, lakes and frewhwater wetlands; disturbed, heavily grazed land with Populus tremuloides, Urtica dioica, Bromus inermis and Phleum pratense.
  Location   49°00' to 49°12'N; 113°39' to 114°10'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   52,597
  Core area(s)   46,285
  Buffer zone(s)   6,312
  Transition area(s) when given   Extending 20 km to the east and north of the National Park. No defined area
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +1,274 to +2,918
  Year designated   1979
  Administrative authorities   Waterton Lakes National Park Waterton Biosphere Association

Last updated: 26/02/2007

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